Most emerging technology of all : POWER GENERATION

3D Displays, RFID chips, medical diagnosis machines, 3D printers, augmented technologies are some of the few emerging technologies that everyone believes, but one major technological leap is required in the field of power generation to rid us of our dependency on fossil fuels. This in turn is solidified by the Copehagen summit this December when the world leaders will meet together to try to agree on cutting down on green house emissions. Getting back to the lists, here are some lists of prominent internet figures mentioning about the future of technology.

IBM’s List includes the following :

1. Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows

2.       You will have a crystal ball for your health

3.       You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back

4.       You will have your own digital shopping assistants

5.       Forgetting will become a distant memory

The interesting Forbes list, brings out these as the inventions:

1. Building-Integrated Photovoltaics

2. Personal Genome Sequencing

3. Molecular Imaging

4. Graphene Transistors

5. Multi-touch Displays

And last but not the least, the guys who decide where the money goes, Wall street journal and their list of emerging technologies here:

1. Space based Solar Power

2. Advanced Car Batteries

3. Carbon capture and Storage

4. Next Generation Bio Fuels

All of these lead to one question and one alone, which of these energy solutions are the best to move forward with, and with the help of research done at the Scientific American website, here is the top 12 energy sources along with their pros and cons.

12.  CORN AND CELLUSOLIC ETHANOL

corn-ethanol-pump
Corn ethanol pump

WHAT IS IT      : Corn, Plants, and other organic plant matter is fermented, distilled to create ethyl alcohol, a flammable liquid that can be used in Internal combustion engines.

PROS                    : Ethanol burns much more cleanly that any other fuels used in internal combustion.

CONS                    : On a life cycle basis, the energy expended to grow, plant, harvest and process the plant matter produces more air pollution, uses more resources, uses more land, and produces more waste than any form of power generation. Not to mention the strain it will put on our food supplies and resources.

11.  OIL – CRUDE OIL

oil-graph-picture

WHAT IS IT      : Oil and its refined versions petrol, gasoline, kerosene are burned by vehicles and power plants. In most power plants they heat up water and the resulting steam runs steam turbines which then produce electricity.

PROS                    : Oil has many uses in various industries and is available through many facets over many countries.

CONS                    : The widespread use of OIL makes it one of the highest producers of green house gases and CO2 emissions. Not to mention the political and economic impacts that it is already having on the planet.

10.  NATURAL GAS

natural gas

Natural Gas

WHAT IS IT      : Oil Natural gas is used to heat water and produce steam which is then passed through a steam turbine to produce electricity.

PROS                    : The cleanest burning fossil fuel, Natural Gas produces less emissions that Oil or COAL.

CONS                    : Air pollution is the obvious, although it is less long term usage would increase the risk of Global warming. Added to which the process of producing this gas for usage produces more waste and emissions just like oil making it that bit undesirable.

9.  NUCLEAR ENERGY

Nuclear energy

WHAT IS IT      : Nuclear power plants harness the energy of enriched uranium, an unstable radioactive element that decays over time naturally. Bombarding the uranium with neutrons breaks apart individual atoms, releasing huge amounts of heat. The heat boils a fluid, which produces steam that turns a turbine to generate electricity. .

PROS                    : A nuclear power plant produces minimal air pollution or direct carbon emissions.

CONS                    : The emissions resulting from mining, transporting and enriching uranium are significant, as are the radiation effects of the mining and disposal of toxic waste. Terrorism and security are potential issues as well. This is the reason of fear for most third world countries whose governments are looking at nuclear for power, but the Citizens are not.

8.  COAL WITH CARBON CAPTURE

Carbon Capture for Coal plants

WHAT IS IT      : The smoke from a coal fired power plant, instead of being released into the atmosphere is pumped into an underground cavity to be stored indefinitely.

PROS                    : This process is good at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing CO2 Emissions by 85-90 percent. .

CONS                    : Twenty five percent more energy is needed to power the equipment that pumps the carbon underground and the process does not reduce emissions associated with coal mining and transportation. No commercial-scale carbon capture and sequestration plant yet exists.

7.  HYDRO ELECTRIC

hoover-dam-directions

WHAT IS IT      : Damn on rivers restrict the flow of water, forcing it through a turbine that turns a generator, producing power.

PROS                    : As the most mature form of renewable power generation. Hydroelectric stations are more reliable than most other forms of power generation.

CONS                    : Most of the world’s suitable rivers have already been dammed and because rivers are subject to fluctuating levels depending on rainfall and temperature, hydroelectric plants can experience fluctuating supply. Emissions from construction of such projects are also significant. Not to mention the ecological impact as well as the economic impact.

6.  WAVE ENERGY

aquabuoy

WHAT IS IT      : Wave power is harnessed using generators attached to floating devices. One leading design uses a buoy carrying magnets that moves up and down over a stationary coil as it is lifted and dropped by passing waves. A current is generated in the coil as the surrounding magnetic field changes.

PROS                    : Wave generators take up very little space because they rely on the ocean, they place no burden on fresh supplies.

CONS                    : Wave generators require frequent maintenance due to the constant battering and corrosive impact of seawater.

5.  SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC

roof-solar-panel

WHAT IS IT      : Solar panels contain three layers, with a semiconductor material such as silicon sandwiched between two plates of metal or metal-coated glass. Sunlight hitting the cilicon atoms dislodges electrons, which are made to flow to one of the plates. The resulting current is stored in batteries or connected to the power grid.

PROS                    : Solar panel positioning is extremely flexible, making use of the most abundant resource on earth.

CONS                    : Solar panels take up considerable amount of space and are ineffective in bad weather.

4.  TIDAL ENERGY

WHAT IS IT      : While there are several designs in use today. Most tidal plants are turbines that sit on the seabed and spin either way as the tide moves in and out.

PROS                    : Tidal power is predictable, reliable and measureable years in advance.

CONS                    : Underwater turbines require considerable maintenance, and can negatively affect local sea life.

3.  GEOTHERMAL

geowells

WHAT IS IT      : Wells are drilled into a seismically active area to reach superheated water under the surface. The steam from that water is pressured on its way to the surface, where it powers a turbine to generate electricity. The water is then cooled and returned underground to be heated again by the bedrock.

PROS                    : Using resources concentrated in specific areas, geothermal operations take up very little space, generating a lot of power with no pollution and very low emissions.

CONS                    : Geothermal sites are not widespread, and individual wells may fluctuate in how much steam they produce.

2.  CONCENTRATED SOLAR

concentrated-solar-power

WHAT IS IT      : An array of adjustable mirrors is positioned to reflect sunlight to either a tower or a pipe filled with liquid. The concentrated beam of light heats the fluid, generating steam that turns a turbine to produce energy.

PROS                    : With no emissions or waste products. Concentrated solar plants make use of an abundant resource with minimal environment impact.

CONS                    : Because of the amount of reflectors needed for a concentrated solar plant, the footprint can also be large. Also, through air-cooled plants exist, many use water for cooling, which can strain local water resources.

1.  WIND ENERGY

windfarm

WHAT IS IT      : Wind blowing over either land or ocean turns the propeller blades on a windmill, which turns a generator attached to a transformer, that provides direct electricity to homes and where it is required.

PROS                    : Wind turbines, which are technologically mature, emit no pollution of no kind, does not need water to operate and take up very little space on the ground. Because wind is so abundant, you can you wind energy in a variety of locations

CONS                    : The spacing of wind turbines is absolutely essential to ensure that they make optimum use of the wind. This in some cases increases the wind farms footprint, but the empty spaces between turbines can still be used for agriculture or ranching.

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