Flex fuel vehicles

Since 1980, the biggest automakers have built over 10 million vehicles that can run on E85 (this is far more than the number of hybrids on the road). In Brazil, a country that adopted a particularly aggressive policy toward the use of flex fuels, over 90 percent of their cars and trucks run off of ethanol gaso-line mixtures in varying proportions. This has significantly reduced Brazil's reliance on foreign fossil fuel suppliers. Flex fuel vehicles have a major advantage over other types of...

Practical Concerns of Electric Cars

What most people really want to know is how electric cars perform in comparison to conventional cars. Most people don't really care what's under the hood they simply want to know what happens when you press the accelerator pedal. One of the biggest changes you'll notice as a driver of an electric car is that you can't just say to yourself, I'll charge in the morning. You need to plan ahead because, unlike internal-combustion vehicles, electric cars cannot simply be filled up at the corner gas...

Wind Farms Utility Scale Electrical Production

The potential for wind power has grown considerably in the last few decades due to advances in technology. Utilities are now building large-scale wind farms that produce hundreds of megawatts of power. In 2005, the worldwide wind industry output roughly 17 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy. This displaced around 25 billion tons of carbon dioxide, 58,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 35,000 tons of nitrogen oxides. To put wind potential into perspective, if the U.S. were to exploit only...

Uranium mining

Producing the U.S.'s nuclear energy takes around 52 million pounds of uranium, which is mostly imported from foreign sources (77 percent of the total). The primary foreign sources are Canada, Russia, Australia, and Uzbekistan. However, obtaining nuclear raw materials from foreign sources does not entail the same types of problems inherent to foreign fossil fuel sources since there is much less raw nuclear fuel being used, and the source countries are of a much different political complexion...

Rising to the Challenge Balancing Fossil Fuel Use with Appropriate Alternatives

You solve energy problems by expending even more energy, not less. You need to devise alternatives that offset fossil fuel addictions, and invention and development take a lot of energy. Infrastructure takes energy. All human advancement requires energy in increasing amounts. Because the only consensus seems to be that fossil fuels are not the answer, you have to wonder what form this energy will take in the future. The following sections provide an overview of the alternatives as well as...

Quick Look at Fuels from the Fossil Fuel Era and Beyond

Under huge pressures and amidst the Earth's core heat, decayed and decaying organic materials formed complex compounds primarily composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms. These complex, carbon-based compounds are more commonly referred to as fossil fuels. The three most commonly available fossil fuels are coal, petroleum, and natural gas. The following sections outline basic information about each type of energy both fossil and nonfossil fuels as well as an overview of the world's use of these...

The US and fossil fuels

In the United States, domestic supplies of fossil fuels are dwindling and demand cannot be met at the rate of consumption growth that it's experiencing. Even if new reserves exceed expectations and next-generation oil and gas recovery technologies significantly improve, supply and demand are going to be imbalanced. Coal is the only energy source that the U.S. doesn't import. In terms of dollars, energy imports accounted for around 24 percent of the U.S.'s 483 billion trade deficit in 2002, and...

Comparing cost Solar Versus fossil fuels

As with any alternative energy source, the question is how does the cost of solar power compare to conventional fossil fuels Current electrical rates around North America range from a low of around six cents per kWh to over 50 cents, particularly in tiered rate structures where a progressive price is applied to the quantity of energy consumption used in a building. The more consumption, the higher the kWh price goes. A rule of thumb in the industry is that solar PV costs around 15 cents per...

Energy and Volume density measurements

The amount of energy that is contained in a unit of fuel (either weight or volume) is called the energy density. This is the amount of potential energy available in a given weight or volume of that fuel. Energy density determines how large a storage device is needed or how heavy a fuel will be in that storage device. Table 3-1 lists the energy densities for common raw fuels. Just how much energy does that take Here's a list that gives an idea of the relative amounts of energy that are involved...

Practical political advantages of alternative energy

Despite all the benefits that fossil fuel use has made possible, relying so heavily on carbon-based energy sources has put the U.S. in a rather precarious position today. We have to rely on not-always-friendly foreign governments for our fuel supply. We are vulnerable to price fluctuations due to geopolitical instability, environmental catastrophes, and other things beyond our control. And we are altering the environment in profound and often negative ways. All these things threaten our...

Advantages of impoundment systems

The attractiveness of impoundment systems is understandable Water is a renewable source of energy, and the natural rain cycle constantly replenishes the water supply, at zero cost. No fossil fuels are needed, and the supply of raw fuel is virtually automatic. Hydropower dams also reduce a nation's reliance on foreign energy sources. Following are some other key benefits Hydropower is cost competitive with all other energy sources, and in many cases it provides the cheapest energy obtainable. As...

In This Chapter

Understanding hydrogen technology Using fuel cell to power cars and homes Confronting obstacles facing broader fuel cell use M ydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. It is comprised of a single proton, and hydrogen gas is odorless, colorless, and imperceptible to the human senses. It's the main component of water H2O , and it's also one of the basic atoms in both carbohydrates and hydrocarbons, the energy sources that all life on the planet earth require to survive....

Arguments against subsidies and tax breaks

Obviously, when the government subsidizes any form of alternative energy, it's the taxpayers who are footing the bill. So society, in general, is subsidizing those customers who install solar. This is seen as unfair in some circles, since it favors the wealthier individuals who can afford the up-front cost of solar equipment. Just because the payback economics of a solar investment are favorable doesn't mean that people will install solar because a majority of the population are living from...

Early electric car design versus the ICE design

The early electric car designs were simple and very reliable, much more reliable than the ICE-powered cars of the time Electric cars They don't require starting an engine. As soon as electricity is applied to the electric motor, the car goes hopefully . When more electricity is applied, the car goes faster. You don't need a transmission because electric motors can operate over a wide range of speeds with equal effectiveness. Brakes and steering are the same for electrics and conventional, and...

Hydrogen and carbon content in fossil fuels

All fossil fuels are composed of hydrogen and carbon among other things that don't factor into the combustion energy production phase , hence the term hydrocarbons to refer to these energy sources. The vast proportion of the useable energy comes from hydrogen, whereas the carbon generates the vast majority of the waste. When carbon burns completely in an oxygen atmosphere such as the earth's , the product is a lot of carbon dioxide CO2 , the gas blamed for global warming. Other byproducts of...

First law of thermodynamics

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as using energy. All energy consuming processes follow the first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms. We consume energy, but what we're really doing is using energy in one form gasoline, for instance and converting that into other forms. What we seek when we consume energy is to change the form of the energy into useable work. As that work progresses, the energy changes form once...

Largescale solar condenser power generators

Large-scale concentrated solar systems use arrays of individually focusing mirrors, aimed at either a single point or a line. The concentrated heat can be quite intense, depending on the surface area of the mirrors, and the quality of the focus. The high heat is used to vaporize some form of liquid, and the pressure is used to drive a turbine, which in turn creates electricity. Mechanical trackers continuously focus the sunlight onto the solar collector or collectors. Southern California Edison...

Advantages and disadvantages of smallscale wind power

Like any wind power system, power can be generated anytime, day or night as long as the wind is blowing. In some locations, wind is virtually a constant magnitudes may vary, but output power is always available . Wind speeds vary over terrain, so you can find locations on your property that provide maximum potential. Ridge lines, coastlines, and the tops of barren hills are the best candidates. cjABEft Obstructions such as trees, houses, barns, and the like all affect wind speed. And because...

Intertie systems

In intertie systems, there's no need for battery backup. All of the system's potential is being used, because when the system is outputting more power than the household is using, that extra energy goes back into the grid the meter spins backwards and the owner is getting credited by the utility company . And if the wind turbine goes down or breaks, or there is no wind, utility grid power is still available to the household. The economics of grid intertie are much better than for stand alone.

About the Author

Rik DeGunther attended the University of Illinois as an undergraduate and Stanford University as a graduate student, studying both applied physics and engineering economics some of this education actually stuck . He holds several United States patents and has designed a wide range of technical equipment including solar energy platforms, military-grade radar jammers, weather-measurement equipment, high-powered radar vacuum tubes, computerized production hardware, golf practice devices, digital...

Leasing schemes

Leasing schemes for PV systems are beginning to proliferate. A company installs a system, and you pay that company an agreed upon lease amount. You then own all the production of the system. These deals are very similar to a lease for an auto, with residual value, maintenance responsibilities, and so on. The leasing company still owns the system, so if you default on your payments they can repossess it. This works well for solar because the lease payments are usually less than the value of the...

The Part of Tens

We're hoping to generate enough povrer to run our tanning beds.1' This would not be a For Dummies book without these handy chapters of ten. Because alternative energy is widely misunderstood, I dispel the most common myths and provide a list of the best ways to invest in alternative energy so that you can begin to make a difference, right now, today.

Small Scale Wind Power

Small-scale wind power turbines generate up to 20 kilowatts, under ideal conditions. This is enough to power most households in the U.S. Like their big brothers on the wind farms, they only generate power when the wind is blowing. A small-scale wind turbine looks like an airplane with a huge propeller and that s because that s what it basically is. Wind pushes the vane the opposite of what happens with an airplane propeller , which turns the propeller and forces the alternator generator to...