Nuclear Power – It’s Back?

Nuclear Power – It’s Back?

Rushan District Hospital
Source: Flickr

Nuclear power plants currently provide about 17 percent of the world’s electricity, yet how much of the world’s current and future environmental problems does Nuclear Power contribute to?
Nuclear power has both powerful enemies and friends but does the bottom line come down to costs? The December 2005 World Nuclear Association report The New Economics of Nuclear Power states that “Nuclear power is cost competitive with other forms of electricity generation, except where there is direct access to low-cost fossil fuels”. The need for cheap energy can not be argued when every week price increases are announced from all the gas and electricity suppliers in the UK. The Ukraine recently had their gas supply stopped by Russia, how long is it before this happens to the UK? Do we not need to be self-sufficient when it comes to the generation of power? Can renewable energy not begin to take a larger role in this supply?

The report goes on to say that fuel costs for nuclear plants are a minor proportion of total generating costs, though capital costs are greater than those for coal-fired plants. At the NIA 2006 launch of the Commission’s position paper on the role of nuclear it confirmed “that nuclear is a low carbon technology with an impressive safety record in the UK” and “Nuclear could generate large quantities of electricity, contribute to stabilising CO2 emissions and add to the diversity of the UK’s energy supply.” While we have an impressive record of safety in the UK, Chernobyl has proved that a nuclear accident thousands of miles away can effect the UK for decades to come. The Tsunami also caused problems at Nuclear Power plants around Asia as the plants are built near the sea due to the large amount of water needed to cool the rectors.

Harvesting A Natural Resource: Wind Power

Harvesting A Natural Resource: Wind Power

Views from the Pamir Highway
Source: Flickr

In today’s economy, with America’s increasing consumption of electricity and natural resources, the possibility of an inexpensive, renewable and reliable energy source is seen by consumers as a breath of fresh air.
That’s where wind energy comes in.

According to the Department of Energy, modern wind turbines can convert winds in most U.S. states and coastal waters into reliable, clean electricity. While wind today provides only a small percentage of our national electricity needs, it is an immense homeland energy resource and is the fastest-growing energy supply technology.

The United States has an abundance of potentially viable wind resources-onshore and offshore-estimated at over 2,000 gigawatts (GW). To put this into perspective, 350 GW of installed wind capacity would represent about 20 percent of our nation’s current electricity demand. This is similar to the level of electricity produced from the nation’s nuclear or natural gas-fired generation today.

Today, the nation’s “wind farms” generate over 9,000 megawatts of electricity-enough electricity to serve more than two million households. Smaller wind systems are being used to generate on-site power and provide additional power to local utilities, and the market is expanding at over 20 percent annually. However, wind power represents more than just competitive electricity. It offers:

• rural economic benefits from project development;

• a hedge against volatile natural gas prices and planned use of imported liquid natural gas;

• cost-effective clean air compliance option for businesses and communities;

• strong potential partner for other domestic power industries including coal and nuclear; and

• a renewable option for producing hydrogen for transportation fuels.

Wind energy is a homegrown energy source that contributes to national security by reducing America’s dependence on oil and natural gas-most of which are imported from other countries. In addition, unlike most other electricity sources, wind turbines don’t consume water. For instance, irrigation and thermal electric generation use 77 percent of all fresh water in the U.S.; wind turbines, on the other hand, don’t use water at all. That makes wind energy a great choice for drought-stricken communities in rural America.

How Hybrid Cars Work

How Hybrid Cars Work

Wind generators farm near Tarifa
Source: Flickr

A hybrid car is such a car in which two types of motors are synchronized to provide power to the wheels. The most popular combination is the one in which the gasoline engine is assisted by the electric motor so that the gas engine is periodically shut off in order to reserve fuel.

Usually hybrid cars are subdivided into two major categories.

In the first type, only the use of electric motor propels the engine at very low speeds. The electric motor has the inherent ability to assist the engine when more power is required. It helps out the gasoline engine even while climbing or passing a steep road. The Ford Escape Hybrid and the Toyota Prius fall into the initial category.

The second of its kind requires extra horsepower for its gasoline engine to drive while in rapid acceleration or when moving up the hill. It utilizes that excess power only from the electric motor to assist the internal combustion engine. The Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid are ideal examples of the second category. These two engines do possess some resemblances as well.

When electric motor is used to assist the gasoline engine, both of the hybrids extract power from the battery depleting power, which in turn gets simultaneously self-recharged from the gasoline engine. Hence a hybrid car does not need to be plugged into a power source to recharge its battery, which is the most important aspect of hybrid cars.

Hybrid cars usually utilize sealed nickel metal hydride batteries, a technology which is popularly used in laptops and cell phones. These batteries are easy to make, cost effective and long lasting thus making it ideal for a higher valued car.

Hybrid engineers more than often have opted for unconventional design facets to maximize aerodynamics inside the engine, giving rise to its slim structure. These car units originally have very low (ultra low) drag coefficient due to sleek configurations, which make the cars slippery. All carmakers strive to reduce drag, as a vehicle with less drag requires less power as well as fuel to move.

The electrical system is monitored by an onboard computer system. The system is program controlled in such a way that when the vehicle is coasting downhill or the brakes are applied, polarity of the system is automatically reversed as the motor actually turns into an energy generating unit. This process is popularly known as regenerative where the conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy stores up power into the battery.

All hybrid cars normally shut the gasoline engine off during road signals so as to conserve fuel reserve. The phenomenon is called idle stop characteristics. It cuts electrical consumption down during idle condition other than fuel saving and emission reduction. On pressing the accelerator paddle, the gasoline engine resumes work getting assistance from electric motor. The process being silent and seamless, the loss or delay in overall performance during this time is almost negligible.

The hybrids are manufactured by a special forging process termed as shot peeing, which reduces friction in the sidewalls of the cylinder thus increasing efficiency.

Hybrid cars, thus, by virtue of their technological advancement, exceptional fuel economy and marginal gas emissions, can be easily termed as the next generation cars

Honda Inverter Generators

Honda Inverter Generators

Source: Flickr

Nothing has been quite so exciting in the generator manufacturing business as the new Honda inverter generators. Honda inverter generators give you all of the power that you need in a generator, with maximum fuel efficiency, light weight, and surprisingly quiet performance. Add to this Honda’s reputation for excellent quality, and these new generators are great news.

Regular gas generators are fine for running certain electrical appliances, such as lights and televisions. However, for more sensitive equipment such as computers, they are usually not sufficient. Computers, printers, and other sensitive electrical equipment need a constant, even electrical signal in order to work properly. The electricity generated from regular gas generators can tend to fluctuate; not a problem for lights, televisions, or coffee pots, but a possible disaster for more sensitive equipment.

The Honda inverter generator is the solution to this problem. Using inverter technology, Honda has created a generator that contains a microprocessor that regulates the flow of electricity from the generator, mimicking the flow that would come from a regular household outlet. This regulated flow of electricity makes it perfectly safe for anyone to run a computer or printer using a Honda inverter generator, without worrying about fluctuations causing a crash in the equipment.

Another benefit of using inverter technology is that Honda inverter generators need only be about half the size and weight of conventional generators, though they have every bit as much power. The alternator is built right into the Honda inverter generator, making it much more compact and light, and giving it exceptional portability. The fuel efficiency of the Honda inverter generator is unsurpassed; one small thirty-pound model can run up to eight hours on a single tank of gas, and a larger forty-six pound model can run up to fifteen hours on one single tank. As far as noise level, the Honda inverter generators run so softly that most people would not even notice that they were in use.

Though the Honda inverter generator is extremely efficient, you still want to choose the right model for your needs. Even though Honda inverter generators are smaller and lighter than their conventional counterparts, there are still different sizes from which to choose. The standard rule does apply with Honda inverter generators: the larger the model, the more work it will do. When shopping for a Honda inverter generator, keep in mind the tasks that you will need it to perform, and buy accordingly. The salespeople and technicians at Honda should be able to help you find the Honda inverter generator that suits your purposes.

Electrical Current As Pain Management

Electrical Current As Pain Management

Source: Flickr

Electricity, the natural force that Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla engaged in a bitter rivalry over due to differing

theories, is quite a subject of human fascination. Like magnetism, many charlatans of the late 19th and early 20th centuries

claimed to have developed devices that could do everything from increase breast sizes, to curing illnesses like tuberculosis.

For the most part, these claims were fraudulent. However, recent evidence is starting to suggest that at least one claim of

these clever tricksters was not entirely false in nature. In the same way that testing is being conducted to determine what

effects magnetic fields have on pain management, some are theorizing that the closely-related force of electricity might also

yield benefits for relieving acute and chronic pain.

There is still quite a bit of controversy surrounding the supposed effects of electricity in the area of pain management, as

well as a heated debate over whether or not it has any effects at all. Still, some scientists have found the idea plausible,

largely due to the data obtained from testing conducted with magnetism. Magnetism and electricity have always been closely

related by science, so some find it reasonable to try and discern if electrical currents, properly conducted through the

body, can achieve effects similar to exposure to a magnetic field. The effect of causing pain is widely known, with death by

electric shock being among the many ways that Hollywood killers dispatch of their victims. However, the main interest of the

current generation of researchers lies in whether or not electrical current can dull the sensation of pain.

It is no secret that a small amount of electrical current travels through the human body, though only recently has it been

found that electrical stimulation of the brain can induce the release of endorphins, chemicals which can dull the pain

sensation. Naturally, the current has to be precisely applied and controlled, largely due to the risks of disrupting the

delicate balance of the brain. Others believe that the current itself can be used to directly fight pain, such as by

hindering or blocking pain signals from the brain to the body. Market-available devices that use this method, which are

largely used for back pain management, with adjustable settings to increase or decrease the current as the patient sees fit.

A more intense version of devices such as this has been developed, but require being implanted deeper under the skin.

The above examples apply alternating current in relieving pain. Another method, known as galvanic stimulation, applies direct

current, and often finds use in treating muscle injuries or cases with major trauma to bodily tissues. The afflicted areas

where galvanic stimulation is applied generally have experienced bleeding or swelling due to the injury. The direct current

is believed to generate an electrical field in the afflicted area, which is maintained by both positive and negative

electrical pads. In theory, the positive electrical pads reduce the flow of blood to the afflicted area to relieve swelling

and pain, similar to how ice packs work. In contrast, the negative pads are believed to increase circulation and,

theoretically, stimulate the healing process. Instructions for their appropriate use come with the pads themselves, though

patients may also inquire about their use with their doctors.

Black To Basics

Black To Basics

electricity pylon
Source: Flickr

How the main electricity suppliers and the government plan a black future by reverting to traditional resources for Britain’s energy generation to solve the looming energy gap.

Greenwashing advertisements have now become commonplace in which slick campaigns are centered on being ‘green’ and more importantly, ‘taking responsibility for our carbon footprints’. Perhaps it is time that the bigger electricity suppliers and the government took some of their own advice?

Numerous articles in the press have recently pointed the finger at these offenders for their conflicting private and public agenda – publically we are all set for a heavy green agenda taking centre stage, from the political platform, right down selecting the most efficient type of lightbulb in your airing cupboard.

Whilst privately four of the big 6, notably E.On, RWE npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy are all planning development of new coal-burning generators, which produce double the amount of carbon emissions than using gas burning technology. This seems an odd investment to make as coal is the original mass polluter, the dirtiest fossil fuel which “let global warming out of its cage” in the first place.

Since the big contenders are focussing their multi-million pound campaigns around utilising precisely the opposite type of fuel to generate their energy, it forces one to ask the reasons which lie behind this massive public contradiction?

The government have as much of a role to play in promoting greener renewables to alleviate the looming energy gap, but they seriously underplay their intentions to publicise the fact that they have made a commitment to “securing a long-term future of coal-fired power generation”, which was buried on page 112 of a government report.

Additionally, according to another government paper, “£20 billion of new coal-fired power stations planned to be built in the UK before 2020” it seems that there will be little remaining to invest be that from the government or the big suppliers to put into desperately demanded research and development into carbon capture and storage (CSS): the other trick the government claims to have up its sleeve – the ability to capture carbon emissions and bury them safely within the earth. So, carbon emissions from coal for example, would be made more environmentally safe.

This would bring the UK ever-closer to its important CO2 reduction targets, with some deadlines in just 3 years, its last minute decision time for the government. As Paul Golby, UK chief executive of E.ON has noted, “it’s five minutes to midnight and the clock is still ticking” little time is remaining for the government to even make a dent in the UK’s climate change targets.

Shockingly, hidden in a number of low-key government documents are the facts: “CSS would not be commercially viable unless costs fell substantially…or unless the carbon price rose sufficiently to provide a larger financial incentive”. This enforces that CSS is not the easy answer to the prayers of the government and large suppliers to give the green light to using resources for energy which have a heavy carbon output such as coal, using CSS technology to counter this.

Therefore, the only remaining light of hope for the government is that by the time ‘safer’ UCG – Underground Coal Gasification (an alternative to old-fashioned less safe open-cast mining, where coal is drilled instead of mined) is developed enough for widespread use and when used in future with the more developed CSS, minimal greenhouse gasses are produced, it could have the ideal mass market to flourish within for the price to be competitive. The government could then freely publicise its firm commitment to using coal as its main source of energy and with an estimated five billion tonnes of previously unreachable coal under the Firth of Fourth alone, the energy gap crisis could be over for the foreseeable future.

The commitment of a black future has been enforced with recent pit openings in South Wales which will excavate 1,000 acres of land to a depth of 600 feet, it illustrates that solving the energy gap is no small feat. Ten out of twelve planning applications for new open-cast coal mines were approved in 2006 alone.

And yet, fingers from the UK are always the first to be pointed at nations which rely on coal-fired energy generation like China and India – but as the UK seem re-focussed upon utilising the unhealthier conventions of energy generation such as coal, it does seem somewhat hypocritical.

With a general election within our sights, green energy has been manipulated to playing something of a smoke and mirrors tactic as a means to strengthen the government’s election campaign by seemingly taking the upper hand in performing a miracle to solve the energy gap crisis, by providing a reliable and environmentally friendly energy supply solution, whilst reducing emissions: all ahead of schedule.

Taking this into account, the future looks black, Alistair Darling in May 2007 reported that the mass planned development of coal-burning power stations could “commit [us] to massive emissions for 40 years”. This of course, indicates that the potentially election-winning means of cleaner energy provision using greener renewable resource is simply off the agenda (especially with rumours of the UK abandoning its climate change targets) – its just no one’s told the millions of voters that yet.

Rising Uk Energy Prices Compound Fuel Poverty Problems

Rising Uk Energy Prices Compound Fuel Poverty Problems

Source: Flickr

More and more British households are spending a higher percentage of their income on energy costs. According to Tony Lodge of the Bow Group, research shows that the number of households categorised as being in fuel poverty is expected to have almost doubled in the past four years, up from 2 million to over 4 million. Then there is severe fuel poverty, which refers to spending more than 15% of total household income on fuel.

Using the UK Government’s own fuel poverty criteria and set against recent energy price rises it can be calculated that an extra 2 million households have become victims of fuel poverty over this period.

Last winter, more than 25,000 people over the age of 65 died as a result of cold related illnesses. This was way in excess of other European countries with more severe climates than Britain. 22% of older people living in fuel poverty have gone without gas or electricity in order to make ends meet.

After the 2005 series of energy price rises had hit British households, Energywatch said: “With no immediate end in sight to energy price rises the effect will be increased levels of debt, fuel poverty and the possibility of disconnection.”

So with the latest round of gas and electricity increases, fuel poverty becomes an even more crucial problem and challenge, particularly for the elderly and low paid. It is estimated that approximately half of people in fuel poverty are of pensionable age and that considerably more than half of vulnerable households in are pensioner households.

Fuel poverty amongst older people is a particularly serious problem not only because they are at greater risk from the cold, but also because they are more likely to spend time within their home. In fact, households containing people aged 65 and over spend more than 80% of their time at home, whilst this figure rises to over 90% for those aged 85 and more.

Help the Aged estimate that between 20,000 and 50,000 people die each winter because their homes are cold. For this reason alone, the urgency of tackling fuel poverty deserves a high priority from Government.

Indeed, the Government was officially committed to ending fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010. However, it is increasingly accepted that this target will not be met and it seems highly unlikely that the Government’s other target of eradicating all fuel poverty in the UK by 2016-18 also will not be achieved!

Energy policy and fuel poverty are intrinsically linked. A balanced energy policy which should include new nuclear power stations, clean coal stations alongside gas and some renewable capacity can play a key role is stabilising electricity costs.

Through this route strategies aimed at reducing fuel poverty can function in the knowledge that a large area of fuel cost – electricity – will be far less volatile than, say, in the recent past. Other strategies boost support for better home design and insulation to improve heat conservation while other energy efficiency measures for households are sadly lacking.

An energy policy that strives to reduce energy costs is available. It represents a strategy which can significantly reduce fuel poverty and provide a better degree of certainty for the energy generators and customers alike.

Meanwhile the Government risks placing Britain at the mercy of being over-dependent on gas for its electricity generation and all of the implications this represents on grounds of higher bills and the inevitable social problems that would inevitably follow.

Solar Energy-The Advantages And Disadvantages

Buffalo's Waterfront Sept 2017
Source: Flickr

Perhaps the greatest argument that could be leveled about having to use fossil and nuclear fuel is our dependence on it. Global warming, though a real serious threat, maybe something that we could only be very worried about. Singly nothing much could be done about it as it will take serious political will if it is to be addressed effectively and for now, other countries are not cooperating. But the choice between traditional and alternative sources of energy, that is something most of us can choose to do.

First the advantages:

Solar energy is abundant and is free. We can count the sun to rise tomorrow and the day after that. Oil and natural gases on the other hand are non renewable, once the source taps out, it is gone forever. Sure there are other areas that could still be tapped but sooner that could run out of oil as well.

Solar energy does not pollute the air. If ever, the heat coming from the sun cleans the environment and maintains the earth’s eco balance. Not so with oil. Oil, its derivatives and its byproducts are great pollutants. In fact, 22,000 pounds of carbon monoxide will need to be produced first for the oil to be processed and supply a home with electrical energy for a year.

Solar energy harnessing panels are silent operators. Except maybe for the mechanical contraptions that are built into the panels so it could track the sun, from the collection of the suns rays to its photovoltaic conversion, they give neither a peep nor a squeak. It is a world of difference from the cacophony of giant drills and pumps that are used to extract oil form the ground.

Maintenance for the solar panels is very minimal. Except for the mechanical parts that are optional, almost no maintenance is needed. Once it is installed nothing much will be the cause for worry. The energy that is derived is free. With oil there is no telling what the next pump price would be and when. Oil, being a commodity, heavily depend its prices on market forces. Often with the right strategies, even market forces could be manipulated that could cause volatility in pricing.

The Disadvantages of Solar Energy

The cost. While solar energy is free, the cost of installation setbacks many household from installing it. Brand new solar energy generating systems are expensive. Although it tends to pay off overtime, initial cash out could range into several thousands of dollars depending on the quality and volume of generated power a household or an establishment would require. While solar energy technology has been around since the 1950’s it is only in recent years that its development was spurred. While costs of installation could also be subjective depending on the purchasing capacity of a customer, the benefits that could be derived out of it is enormous although mostly in unquantifiable terms.

For mass consumption, distribution lines are needed and this remains to be a big issue. Old antiquated distribution lines used to transfer electricity and other modes of fuel into the homes are clogged in many regions that to deliver solar energy power into the houses of consumers will require a different approach.

Be that as it may, the benefits from solar power far outweigh its disadvantages. It is an ideal source of energy that it may soon be the norm in power generation.

Top 3 Solar Portable Electricity Generators

Top 3 Solar Portable Electricity Generators

Construction of Rampal Power Station, Bangladesh- January, 2016
Source: Flickr

One portable solar electricity generator we looked at comes in three different models. The first version is 12 amp AC with an inverter of 150 watts. The other two versions, both DC are either 12 or 30 amps. All these portable solar electricity power generators come with 20-foot long 12/2 cable and DC plugs for input. What are not included are batteries or modules.

These portable solar generators come factory tested and fully assembled. They are easy to use plug and go systems. The AC model has an inverter switch on the outside; they all come with PV module type accessories for mounting. Other features of these solar generators are 120 VAC sockets equipped with outdoor covers for the AC models. These same models also have 150-watt internal inverters.

You’ll always know the condition of your charge with these portable solar generators, thanks to their battery meters. Protective safety and durability features include separate fusion of all sockets, enclosures that are nonbreakable, rugged and resistant to weather and corrosion. The solar panels of these portable generators make them DC chargeable as well as friendly to the environment. Each of these made for your home power generators come with 2 DC sockets that can accommodate loads as high as 90 watts each.

This made for home portable power generator can be recharged from a solar module or an AC battery charger, an optional accessory. The unit is fully integrated and generators AC or DC electricity quietly. It is ideal for running lights, fans, laptops, and small televisions or power tools.

Cache In Your Chips And Get A Bus!

Cache In Your Chips And Get A Bus!

Live Wires...
Source: Flickr

Computer related terminology could sometimes be daunting to newcomers. These are relatively new words or hybrids of words, already in existence. Someone with a degree in English, for example, could not necessarily guess, the function of a particular devise, by its name. This is because such a devise never existed in history or in the history of the English language.
Tolerance and patience is required.
If you work in the field of computers, these “new” words must be learned. However, P.C.’s are designed for use by ordinary people, and the gritty details regarding their construction, can be largely ignored. A journalist, typist, builder or bookkeeper doesn’t need to know what an EIDE or SCSI is, or indeed isn’t.
Hard drive description is not relevant to the majority, as long as the devise is functional.
A “BUS”, though, could be guessed by some, as it carries something, not unlike a conventional bus. In this case, it carries current/electrons/data, and is simply a conductor. A bus conductor, if you like. For now, buses are made of copper with experiments underway to utilise other materials. I read recently that “prions”, which are a type of protein, are been considered as conductors. Will some of our computers’ components be organic? We shall have to see!
Fibre optics, which are, basically speaking, glass pipes around four thousands of an inch (0.1 mms. ), in diameter, employ the speed of light, for signal/data transfer. A light (diode), is on or off, at one end, and a photo-resistor at the other end registers its state. Now, wasn’t that simply put! These glass pipes are coated to reflect the light inwards, meaning that light can be “bent” around corners, while within its container/pipe. Heat generation is minimal and electrical resistance is redundant.
It is heat generation and resistance that brings your “fan” into play, keeping everything cool, and electron transfer at a controlled level.
Low resistance= high current. Your starter motor for your car has really thick cables allowing electrons from the twelve volt power source (battery) to do their job in turning over you engine, which is a considerably difficult task. A smaller cable would have a higher electrical resistance, causing it to overheat, and eventually, melt. Keep listening for that “fan”.
It is your computers first line of defence.
In fact, it is the principle of electrical resistance that is employed by electrical heaters.
CACHE is not legal tender in most countries, but a type of memory that your CPU (central processing unit ) first looks for. It does this, not to be awkward, but more because it is the fastest route, from a users point of view.