Fusion (not fission)

Solar panels, yada yada…
Fusion is where it’s really at. Using 192 massive lasers sucking 500 trillion watts, we MAY have ignition!(source)

Fusion power is the other nuclear power. Instead of ripping atoms apart and harvesting the released energy as in fission, fusion takes two atoms and smashes them into one, releasing even MORE energy than fission. We have been using fission for many years, starting with the atomic bomb and leading to the many nuclear plants around the world. While we have touched on using fusion in hydrogen bombs, we have yet to make a viable fusion reactor.

Fusion

The most common candidates for fuel I have seen (since we don’t live in a star and can’t just use everything up to iron on the periodic table) are tritium and deuterium, both isotopes of hydrogen. If we can create a fusion reactor capable of a sustained reaction, then we find the holy grail of energy (until we get to anti-matter). Cheap (relatively) fuel, waste that is only radioactive for decades instead of milennia, very little possibility for nuclear proliferation (neither uranium nor plutonium are directly involved), no possibility for runaway chain reactions,  and the bragging rights that our electric power source uses the same reaction as the sun.

Yes, my friends, fusion. Let’s hope we get there soon so we can all forget about oil and get on with our lives. And for those that are too far from the grid, SOLAR PANELS!

Tornado Power

Tornado and LightningTemperature gradients are the basis of thermoelectric generators. The potential difference allows for the creation of electrical current. What does this have to do with Tornadoes?

One scientist, Louis Michaud, plans on harvesting a by-product of large scale temperature gradients – tornadoes – to generate electricity. The core of his proposed power plant, called the Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE), will generate a tornado and harvest energy from the resulting air currents. In order to supercharge and sustain the vortex, the power plant will feed it waste heat generated by the turbines. This creates a cutoff switch in case of emergency, such as if a giant, permanent tornado next door to your house escapes its earthly bondage to reign destruction upon its human oppressors. If the waste heat is cut off from the vortex, the vortex dries up.

Early calculations by Michaud predict a possible 200 megawatt output from such a power plant, enough to power a small city. (source)