The sun is a star when it comes to sustainable energy

Feb 25, 2009 By Robert Sanders
In order for plastic solar cells with 8% efficiency to supply U.S. electrical energy needs, a land area of 58 million acres (shown as eight green blocks) would have to be covered by solar farms. The orange square in the California desert, however, could supply the state's needs with 1% efficient solar cells, and the nation's needs with 6% efficient photovoltaics. (Alivisatos lab/UC Berkeley image)

At a national scientific meeting last week where biofuels - principally ethanol - were uniformly trashed as an environmental train wreck, one bright, carbon-free light gleamed in our energy future: the sun.

Numerous sessions on energy and climate change at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement in Science (AAAS), held Feb. 12-16 in downtown Chicago, were premised on the conviction that the world must drastically reduce its carbon output to stave off the worst consequences of global warming.

"The sun is absolutely a singular solution to our future energy needs," speaker Nathan Lewis, who researches synthetic photosynthesis at the California Institute of Technology, told an audience at the meeting. "Nothing else comes close. More energy from the sun hits Earth in one hour than all the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year."

While the sun's heat is already being harnessed to run steam engines - Southern California Edison last week committed itself to buying 3.4 megawatts of solar thermal power for Los Angeles customers - solar thermal and photovoltaics make up a paltry one-tenth of 1 percent of the nation's energy supply.

The sun is a star when it comes to sustainable energy
A block of crystalline silicon (top), which is sliced to make thin solar cells, alongside electron microscope images of various arrays of nanocrystals and nanorods now being explored as solar cell materials. (Alivisatos lab/UC Berkeley image)

At a Friday the 13th AAAS session, "Basic Research for Global Energy Security: A Call to Action," Lewis, Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and interim director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and others described new research on solar cells, batteries and transmission systems that aims either to break through current limitations of our energy technologies or to find totally new and much more efficient systems.

"This is one of the most exciting times in memory for energy research," Alivisatos said, not the least because scientists around the country anticipate increased federal funding aimed at making the country energy self-sufficient while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Alivisatos, who oversees LBNL's solar energy research project, Helios, focuses his research on sunlight. His AAAS talk, "Nanoscale Materials for Solar Fuel Generation," provided examples of his laboratory's cutting edge work to improve the efficiency of solar cells and to lower their price.

Plants capture only about 1 percent of the sun's energy, which means growing plants to produce biofuels is inherently far less efficient than capturing the sun's heat with solar thermal or, even better, using photovoltaics to directly convert light to electricity. The problem with solar cells is the cost.

"We now can't afford to have it, but soon we can't afford not to have it," said Lewis at the same session. "We need to do the R&D to enable us to exploit it at scale. And to do that, we need to understand how to assemble these materials, how to exploit new physics and how to capture, convert and store the sunlight so we can bring the energy to wherever people want it when they need it."

The sun is a star when it comes to sustainable energy
The Helios Project's version of an artificial leaf would use sunlight to catalyze the splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen, which could be used as fuel for vehicles. (Helios/LBNL image)

Already, silicon-based solar cells are converting sunlight to electricity with a power efficiency of close to 25 percent, with 40 percent - and perhaps as high as 50 percent - efficiency likely with cells of layered semiconductors that optimize the absorption of red, green and blue light.

"From the point of view of physics, if you are just trying to make electricity, this problem is solved," Alivisatos said. But these efficient solar cells, made of crystalline silicon or semi-crystalline thin films of rare elements like tellurium and cadmium, are expensive to produce and, for now, affordable only in high-end applications like satellites.

Less expensive plastic solar cells of blended polymers can now convert sunlight to energy at 5 percent efficiency, Alivisatos said. Assuming this can be improved to 8 percent efficiency, he calculates that meeting the 3.2 terawatts of demand in the United States would require covering 60 million acres with plastic solar cells. That is one-quarter of all the agricultural land in the United States, although the plan is to use marginal land, even desert, instead of cropland or grazing land.

To avoid such immense solar farms, efficiencies need to go up significantly and costs need to come down. Alivisatos' goal is to produce cheap yet efficient solar cells using nanomaterials, and eventually to exploit nanomaterials as catalysts to use sunlight to split water directly into hydrogen and oxygen or to produce fuels such as methane.

Nanocrystals have a decided advantage over bulk crystalline silicon because it's easier to get perfect nanocrystals than perfect blocks of silicon, for the same reason that smaller diamonds are more common and cheaper than large ones: deep in the Earth, it's easier to create small, defect-free diamonds than large perfect stones.

Creating vast arrays of silicon-based solar cells is "like trying to coat the desert with real high quality diamonds," Alivisatos said.

Today's thin-film solar cells, which are sheets of semi-crystalline CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) or CdTe (cadmium telluride), are similarly difficult and expensive to make.

Tiny nanocrystals, nanorods or nanowires would thus be easier and cheaper to make, but one challenge is how to pack them into a film so that the electrical charges jump readily between nanocrystals and don't get stuck. New materials such as lead selenide or a mixture of lead, selenium and sulfur work with efficiencies between 1 and 3 percent, although they can be substantially improved, Alivisatos said. Tin may work as well in place of more toxic lead.

"No nanoparticle photovoltaic has matched thin film performance yet," he said, although the electron transport through them is getting pretty good.

A new study by Alivisatos, LBNL post-doc Cyrus Wadia and UC Berkeley's Dan Kammen shows that nanocrystal forms of some abundant and inexpensive materials - iron pyrite, or fool's gold, for example - have potential as solar cell materials, with cost savings even if their efficiency is less than that of silicon.

"It turns out that some of the materials we most emphasize in our thin film industry today don't scale to enough area to solve the whole problem (of supplying the nation's electricity from sunlight)," Alivisatos said. "We need to keep our options open."

Even more ambitious, Helios's artificial photosynthesis project aims to recreate an artificial leaf that will directly convert sunlight to hydrogen fuel instead of to sugar. Alivisatos and his colleagues have already shown that nanorods of cobalt and oxygen catalyze the production of hydrogen at a level that makes it a promising catalyst for use in integrated artificial solar fuel systems. UC Berkeley chemist Peidong Yang has shown the same with titanium-coated silicon nanowires.

In his new role as interim director of LNBL, Alivisatos was emphatic that the model of the Department of Energy's Joint Bioenergy Institute, which aims to take biofuel research from lab bench to the marketplace, will work with solar energy as well.

"I think that the national labs are going to play a very important role in energy research," he said, "and I am hopeful they can act as anchor points, working with universities and companies, where this type of interaction between basic and applied research can happen in a timely way so that we can move quickly. We're in a hurry."

The annual AAAS meeting typically draws 10,000 scientists and members of the public, as well as hundreds of international and national science writers. This year, 11 UC Berkeley researchers presented papers in 12 separate sessions, on topics ranging from exoplanets (Geoffrey Marcy) and human evolution (Tim White) to the mathematics of Go (Elwyn Berlekamp).

Provided by UC Berkeley

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User comments : 56

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Doug_Huffman
3 / 5 (10) Feb 25, 2009
The Solar Constant is 1350 Watts per square meter. Consume any bio-renewable energy at a higher rate and indebt the future just as has been done with bio-renewable fossil fuel.

Who fails to do arithmetic is doomed to nonsense.
Corban
2.5 / 5 (11) Feb 25, 2009
Photosynthesis is an extremely efficient process. The chloroplasts have a quantum wave cascade effect that lets electrons 'surf' their way through the chain smoothly and nigh-effortlessly.

Where is this technological elitism coming from? Plants kick our ass.
El_Nose
3.5 / 5 (6) Feb 25, 2009
ahhhh maybe i don;t understand your comment Doug --- but i think the issue that everyone is trying to get around is any synthetic fossil fuel no matter how good is still a fossil fuel that will pump carbon into our atmosphere -- even if you argue it is balanced over a large enough area -- solar is pure -- no carbon or very little carbon when taking manufacturing into consideration.
david_42
4.8 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2009
Something is seriously wrong with the image caption. It takes 10 times as many 8% cells compared to 6% cells in California? 58 million acres is approximately how much land is needed for bio-fuel production, if it was to meet all of our energy needs.

On a large scale, solar-thermal makes much more sense than photovoltaic.
lengould100
3.7 / 5 (9) Feb 25, 2009
Photosynthesis is an extremely efficient process. The chloroplasts have a quantum wave cascade effect that lets electrons 'surf' their way through the chain smoothly and nigh-effortlessly.

Where is this technological elitism coming from? Plants kick our ass.


Photosynthesis sucks. Less than 1% efficient even when perfect conditions, shuts down in cold weather eg 1/2 year in N America, huge user of high-quality water.

david_42 is correct. Solar thermal is NOW ready for large-scale deployment, and all deployments will still be useful when/if PV becomes economic.
lengould100
2.9 / 5 (7) Feb 25, 2009
Photosynthesis is ok if you like getting your ass kicked.
kerry
4.4 / 5 (8) Feb 25, 2009
lengould100:

Photosynthesis "shuts down" during cold weather so the plant can survive. Why do you think many trees shed their leaves when fall/winter comes? If they kept them on to photosynthesize, they would surely die! They would be frozen and dried out!

Plus, trees don't "use water" like humans use water. We leave water highly polluted with our urine and feces and heavy metals and all sorts of chemicals. Dump that in a body of water, and you're bound to get fish kills. Trees "use" water partly for making food (which results in nothing toxic) and partly for transpiration to keep cells turgid. Trees actually help transport clean water. Forests near coastlines soak up rain water and transpire it back into the atmosphere, to be rained down again further inland. Imagine having to design a machine that uses solar energy, self-replicates and self-repairs, is edible, AND cleans and transports water for you. Trees are amazing.

Photosynthesis doesn't "suck". It just wasn't meant to power our lights and iPods and stuff.
deatopmg
4 / 5 (4) Feb 25, 2009
What is conveniently overlooked is that in the north (look at the green squares) not only does photosynthesis shut down because it is damn cold but it is unlikely that solar heat or PV will solve any problems because the sun is so low on the horizon and it it only up for a short time.

At the AAAS conference they talked about "if" and "when" and we can't wait until "if" and "when" if we are to meet the political agenda of stopping global whatever and unite the world under a dictatorial regime that knows what is best for all of us, making sure that we get it.

In spite of the silliness above, the right thing to do is to use all available renewable sources, i.e. wind, solar heat and PV ("if" and "when" it becomes cost effective), tidal ("if" and "when"...), biomass for heat to steam to electricity, and algae to grow liquid transportation fuels (finally possible today).

oh and the solar constant of about 138 watts/MxM (the text characters available on this site are VERY limited) is not here on earth but 250 miles up. Considerably less is available down here to play with.
deatopmg
2 / 5 (2) Feb 25, 2009
1380W/MxM
tpb
4.8 / 5 (4) Feb 25, 2009
The article glosses over the fact that solar and wind as well have an Achilles heel, storage for night and calm days. A car battery holds about 1.2kwh's.
3.2 terrawatts stored for 12 hours would require (3.2e12 * 12) / 1.2e3 = 38.4 billion car battery equivalents.
This is a mind boggling number.
Also the solar plant would have to output twice the power (twice the size) during the day, to power daytime loads and charge batteries at the same time.
Soylent
4 / 5 (7) Feb 25, 2009
The article glosses over the fact that solar and wind as well have an Achilles heel, storage for night and calm days.


http://www.iesvic...Love.pdf

For the US you need more than 80 days of storage in a wind and solar-only grid with a hypothetical infinite transmission capacity inside the US. 430 GW* (80*24 h) is 650 TWh. That's on the order of a couple of hundred trillion dollars worth of storage right there(if 80 days of storage is the requirement for the rest of the world too the cost will land around a quadrillion dollars, assuming it was actually possible to build that many vanadium flow batteries, pumped hydro storage plants or electrolyzers fuel cells).

But don't worry, we'll have a "smart grid" that allows the utilities to wary demand by fiddling with your thermostat instead of warying supply to meet demand.

The world's largest Rube Goldberg machine is what it is and it won't happen. It's physicially and fiscally impossible to build that much stuff, that fast and that reliably.

Old king coal and natural gas will make up the shortfall; see Germany for reference. Most greens are about as clever as a box of rocks, so it doesn't take much pandering and marketing drivel to get their blessing to go on and continue to burn coal and gas(e.g. coal can disguise itself as a district heating co-gen plant and burn a little bit of biomass and municipal waste with the coal. Gas turbines can be disguised as energy storage in the form of CAES, even though more than half the energy is really comming from natural gas. It also helps if you've got a charlatan like Amory Lovins to wave some fantasies about wind mills, hydrogen economy and corn ethanol and source some BS numbers from an old article he wrote 30 years ago, which if anyone actually bothers to look were just as unsubstantiated then as they are now.).

Where is this technological elitism coming from? Plants kick our ass.


You're confused, plants blow chunks at converting sunlight into usable energy.
Arkaleus
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2009
It doesn't make sense to convert 100% of our energy needs to any single system. The key to energy security is energy diversity. We need to be able to rely on many sources of fuel and keep them in competition with one another. That will spur development, keep retail cost down and allow for adjustments to be made for changes in technology and supply. Hopefully diversity of supply will prevent monopolies and vertically integrated distribution systems from corrupting the market.
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (2) Feb 25, 2009
for the first time ever I find myself in agreement with soylent

kind of scary, eh?
Soylent
4.5 / 5 (4) Feb 25, 2009
It doesn't make sense to convert 100% of our energy needs to any single system.


It doesn't make sense to include sources that make the electrical grid less reliable, create unesscessary wear and tear on grid infrastructure and make electricity more expensive without providing significant amounts of usable energy.

We need to be able to rely on many sources of fuel and keep them in competition with one another.

Wind and solar do not compete with any other sources. Not on cost and not on function. If you have to resort to some combination of renewable mandates, feed-in-tariffs, production tax credits and direct subsidies; that's not competition, that's a form of protectionism and it will run up the cost of electric rates.

If electric rates go up, less people will switch to electric vehicles and heat pumps; you're providing an incentive to use oil and gas instead.

If either of wind and solar's dependencies go away then wind and solar become unusable. I don't see how this can possibly improve energy security. If wind and solar go away, all other sources of energy, gas, geothermal, coal, nuclear and hydro still play along with each other nicely in its absence.
Soylent
not rated yet Feb 25, 2009
It ate my quote tags for the second quote; I think I might have used less than and more than brackets instead of square brackets.
thales
3.3 / 5 (3) Feb 25, 2009
I think the kind of security found with diversification will happen naturally as PV becomes cost-effective. The only reason we have centralized power generation plants is because they have to be big to get the economies of scale required to be cost-effective (and safe and secure, in the case of nuclear). PVs are fungible and portable. Once they're cheap enough, or have a short enough payback period on the cost savings, we'll suddenly see them on roofs everywhere. This will happen even sooner once the government starts giving away tax credits for PVs. Centralization sounds like a silly idea to me.
KBK
2 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2009
The basics are to stop dumping heat and contaminants into the environment.

that's it.

Other than that-there is little to consider.

If given the technology does not solve the issue with the two points mentioned as part of the package....then it is not a good solution--it is a very bad one.
yep
3 / 5 (4) Feb 26, 2009
The Electric Universe guys had a post up with a new power technology that basically takes a hydrogen molecule's electron and changes its orbit .
http://www.blackl...wer.com/
ealex
not rated yet Feb 26, 2009
Doesn't their (Blacklight) process basically assume having large amounts of generated hydrogen to pump into the instalation?

I assume that still relies on the process of electrolysis to obtain the hydrogen, which requires external power?
El_Nexus
3 / 5 (2) Feb 26, 2009
Yep,
that Blacklight Power company is a lot of hot air. It's the worst kind of pseudoscience. You simply cannot have electrons in "fractions" of an energy level.
menkaur
not rated yet Feb 26, 2009
look guys, this one is a good idea, but technologies invented to be green really suck.
anyway
i think, fusion is thousand times better then any other technology we are developing
lynvingen
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2009
If you cant burn coal, and cant get these solar schemes up to snuff, only nuclear remains as a viable alternative. Look at France.
superhuman
2 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2009
You're confused, plants blow chunks at converting sunlight into usable energy.

I think you are confused, which form of energy do you find more usable electricity or food?

If for some reason photosynthesis stopped working 99% of human population would be dead within a few years and no human technology would be able to prevent it.
Modernmystic
1.3 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2009
Solar power is PIPE DREAM. Even if you covered the entire planet in 100% efficient cells our civilization would outstrip the energy that provided within a few hundred years OR LESS.

Get over it, solar will NEVER be anything but a a niche power source, it's not now, nor will it ever be a viable form of industrial scale power.

Only fission and fusion are realistic alternative energies....

The sooner you all realize that and pull your heads out the sooner we can start SOLVING the problems you incessantly whine about...
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2009

I think you are confused, which form of energy do you find more usable electricity or food?

Well since we depend on power in one form or another to produce the sheer quantity of food we need at this point, I think that's a peurile and ignorant question.

If for some reason photosynthesis stopped working 99% of human population would be dead within a few years and no human technology would be able to prevent it.


Wrong, we could grow fungus if we needed to first of all (granted billions would die, but we don't NEED photosynthesis to live). Secondly in the VERY near future we'll be manufacturing all our food...

People are going look back at us as savages for eating dead animals and food we grew out of the dirt.
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2009
1350 Watts per square meter may be equivalent to 5 kWh per square meter per day.

Who fails to do arithmetic is doomed to nonsense.
superhuman
not rated yet Mar 01, 2009
Well since we depend on power in one form or another to produce the sheer quantity of food we need at this point, I think that's a peurile and ignorant question.

It's due to your faulty way of thinking. There are plenty of energy sources while there is only one meaningful source of food - plants.

If for some reason photosynthesis stopped working 99% of human population would be dead within a few years and no human technology would be able to prevent it.

Wrong, we could grow fungus if we needed to first of all (granted billions would die, but we don't NEED photosynthesis to live).
We could do many things that's why I left 1% out.
And you seem to have an interesting perspective if you believe we don't need things on which billions of people depend for their survival.

Secondly in the VERY near future we'll be manufacturing all our food...

Talk about pipe dreams.
superhuman
not rated yet Mar 01, 2009
Misclick
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2009
Wrong, we could grow fungus if we needed to first of all (granted billions would die, but we don't NEED photosynthesis to live). Secondly in the VERY near future we'll be manufacturing all our food...


Chef or dietitian you're not. Fungi have vanishingly few calories.
yep
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2009
Paul Stamets has a great talk on [ted.com] six ways mushrooms can save the world. One being the breakdown of cellulose into "econal". Hemp coincidentally is up to 75% cellulose.
I do not believe blacklight power is a scam. They have apparently signed two deals and have University validation.
http://www.blackl...wer.com/
Arkaleus
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2009
One of the reasons we are so wasteful is because energy has always been very cheap to produce. There have been few pressures driving efficiency until very recently. Necessity is the force behind all invention, even today.

When the market pressures become great enough, efficiency and innovation will rise to keep the cost of our activities within acceptable levels.

"Alternatives" are mostly pie in the sky, but they have spurred development and refinements. There truly is no way out of the oil spiral - We have sold our souls to hydrocarbons and will be riding them until it or we are utterly depleted.

More worrisome than energy shortages are the resource wars our civilizations regularly engage in to secure what they think they need to maintain their wealth. Those are more destructive than all the pollution we have ever made.
jabe
1.5 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2009
Sustainable living is the key to life itself and solar has been an extremely efficient and prosperous form for, well ever. With the proper application and design, any home in the sunlit world can produce more power than it even consumes. It has been said that the US alone consumes enough resources that for sustainability we alone would need 2 entire earth's!. At present only solar and nuclear are, imo, sustainable. No matter what you burn to get electricity it is not efficient OR sustainable. Fusion may be an alternative but we are not there yet. TO THIS DAY all humans know is BURN. Just like the cavemen.
Ethelred
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2009
Solar power is PIPE DREAM. Even if you covered the entire planet in 100% efficient cells our civilization would outstrip the energy that provided within a few hundred years OR LESS.


That sort of energy use would kill all life on Earth. You can not double energy use to that high a like you just did. Heating the environment would be unavoidable. One more doubling over you hundred percent and you have the Earth well past boiling point. It doesn't matter where the energy comes from either. It all becomes heat in the end.

Get over it, solar will NEVER be anything but a a niche power source, it's not now, nor will it ever be a viable form of industrial scale power.


Yeah get over it, don't look, never try bury your head in the sands of ignorance and GO MYSTICAL.

Only fission and fusion are realistic alternative energies....


Again nothing is realistic at the levels you manufactured.

Ethelred
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2009
Paul Stamets has a great talk on [ted.com] six ways mushrooms can save the world.


Perhaps he should be more careful about the type of shrooms he takes.

One being the breakdown of cellulose into "econal". Hemp coincidentally is up to 75% cellulose.


Shrooms AND Cannibis. He definitely needs to cut back on one or the other.

I do not believe blacklight power is a scam.


You also believe that a giant Electro Blasto causes supernova.

http://www.physor...258.html

I am still waiting with baited breath for you answer as to where the energy comes from. Yes, I will keep asking.

They have apparently signed two deals and have University validation.
http://www.blackl...wer.com/


They also are into claiming that they will get the energy from water. Not once in human history has anyone managed this feat without first using energy to break up the water. Those claiming otherwise like Blacklight are using a scam that has been popular since the age of Alchemy. Whereby they use magical processes (handwaving, misdirection, and bullshit)to cover up the actual source of the buyers desire, be that gold or energy.

This allows the negatively charged electron that is otherwise in a stable orbit to move closer to the naturally attracting, positively charged nucleus to generate power as heat.


First we have handwaving, something Yep cannot get enough of.

BlackLight Power has recently achieved a breakthrough in power generation by the invention of a solid fuel that uses conventional chemical reactions to generate the catalyst and atomic hydrogen at high reactant densities that in turn achieves very high power densities. Plant designs utilize continuous regeneration of the solid fuel mixture using known industrial processes, and the only consumable, the hydrogen fuel,


Then the baffling with bullshit.

the hydrogen fuel, is obtained ultimately from water due to the enormous net energy release relative to combustion.


Then the claims for phlogiston, the Philosophers Stone or in this case WATER.

According to their own video what Rowan University (well a teacher there)did was to test the power that the chemicals Blacklight uses could produce. He did NO tests on how much power was needed to produce the chemicals. There is NO evidence that more power was produced than went into making the chemicals. This is typical of people running energy from water scams. Rowan by the way is not exactly MIT or Cal Tech. Its a teaching college.

This is a blatant con. Anyone taken in by it has not learned from history. Energy from water has been a classic scam for decades.

Oh, Yep, would you like to help me with a financial difficulty I have been having. The Nigerian Finance Minister needs a place to put some money that El Jefe can't get at. You would receive 10 per cent. All he and I need from you is your bank account number and the password. Please respond soon, as this is a severely time limited offer. The Finance Minister needs to leave the country before his appointment with the Shortener takes place.

Ethelred
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2009
Solar power is PIPE DREAM. Even if you covered the entire planet in 100% efficient cells our civilization would outstrip the energy that provided within a few hundred years OR LESS.


That sort of energy use would kill all life on Earth. You can not double energy use to that high a like you just did. Heating the environment would be unavoidable. One more doubling over you hundred percent and you have the Earth well past boiling point. It doesn't matter where the energy comes from either. It all becomes heat in the end.

Get over it, solar will NEVER be anything but a a niche power source, it's not now, nor will it ever be a viable form of industrial scale power.


Yeah get over it, don't look, never try bury your head in the sands of ignorance and GO MYSTICAL.

Only fission and fusion are realistic alternative energies....


Again nothing is realistic at the levels you manufactured.

Ethelred


Oh bull, when our civilization is sufficiently advanced to use that kind of energy we could put giant lasers at the poles to cool the planet, or a myriad of other solutions to any waste heat problem.

Just because you can't see an answer to the problem today doesn't mean one won't exist in the future.

People like you said we'd be out of every mineable resource by the early 90's...well guess what they've all INCREASED since then....
thales
3 / 5 (2) Mar 03, 2009
Ethelred, I just want to say I appreciate your clear-headed responses and civilized discourse. You are an example of how a Bayesian thinks.
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2009
Oh bull, when our civilization is sufficiently advanced to use that kind of energy we could put giant lasers at the poles to cool the planet, or a myriad of other solutions to any waste heat problem.


And when will this happen? Sometime after the Antarctic glaciers melt? Surely long after it has meaning in this discussion. Solar power can work in the meantime. I don't think it can ever do the majority of of power production though. Well not with Earth based solar power and any other kind just isn't relevant towards what we can do today or in the foreseeable future.

For a not presently practical future see John C. Wright's Golden Transcendence trilogy.

So no its not bull to call you on a pie in the sky by and by future that may never exist IF we don't get a better handle on things soon.

People like you said we'd be out of every mineable resource by the early 90's.


It makes it so easy to win an arguement when you make up both sides of the conversation. Why did you even bother to to abuse my handle in you post. You could have done it all in your head and been just as useful.

well guess what they've all INCREASED since then..


Yeah, we have more oil than ever before which was expected. Of course we are using it at a faster rate than we are finding it which was also expected. Do you think the supply is infinite? Even hydrogen has its limits(true the universe can't run out in any even remotely reasonable scenario but you should see some of things I have seen people say in favor of unlimited population increases).

I can go farther over the top than you. I just multiply by two until it gets ridiculous.

I bet you think I am against fission plants. (please note that I only guess, I don't claim to know). All for em, even breeders indeed especially for breeders. Until fusion becomes practical, if that is even possible.

Ethelred
MattJ
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2009
Solar power is PIPE DREAM. Even if you covered the entire planet in 100% efficient cells our civilization would outstrip the energy that provided within a few hundred years OR LESS.

Get over it, solar will NEVER be anything but a a niche power source, it's not now, nor will it ever be a viable form of industrial scale power.

Only fission and fusion are realistic alternative energies....

The sooner you all realize that and pull your heads out the sooner we can start SOLVING the problems you incessantly whine about...


Wrong, wrong, wrong. It is fusion that is the "pipe dream". Why? Because every realistic fusion process we have produces lots of neutron radiation, which degrades the material the reactor walls are made of. That is why fusion researchers joke about needing "unobtainium" for the walls!

The only practical way to shield from the neutron radiation is to use gravitational confinement and shield the reactor core with many tons of hydrogen plasma, allowing the heat generated by fusion to slowly move through the tons of hot plasma...

But then to shield from the heat, we need to put the whole thing 93 million miles away;)

Oh wait, we HAVE one of of those! So SOLAR power is the only practical fusion source. And it is available now, with increasing efficiencies soon available.
MattJ
not rated yet Mar 05, 2009
Paul Stamets has a great talk on [ted.com] six ways mushrooms can save the world. One being the breakdown of cellulose into "econal". Hemp coincidentally is up to 75% cellulose.
I do not believe blacklight power is a scam. They have apparently signed two deals and have University validation.
http://www.blackl...wer.com/


Well, believe it. It is a scam. It cannot possibly be anything else. No "university validation" can overrule such basic chemistry.

That basic chemistry is that water is the RESULT of an exothermic reaction. It has a huge bonding energy. Any attempt to pull the hydrogen and oxygen in water apart REQUIRES energy, it does not LIBERATE energy. Even any attempt to re-arrange the hydrogen and oxygen requires energy.

So your "university validation" is itself a scam.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2009
Wrong, wrong, wrong. It is fusion that is the "pipe dream". Why? Because every realistic fusion process we have produces lots of neutron radiation, which degrades the material the reactor walls are made of. That is why fusion researchers joke about needing "unobtainium" for the walls!


Yes we all know about this problem, but you simply have to replace the walls every so often. What you don't think that landfills won't be BRIMMING with used up solar panels if we were using it to power the entire COUNTRY??

Moreover, so what? If for some reason fusion is a problem, we know fission isn't.

The only practical way to shield from the neutron radiation is to use gravitational confinement and shield the reactor core with many tons of hydrogen plasma, allowing the heat generated by fusion to slowly move through the tons of hot plasma...

But then to shield from the heat, we need to put the whole thing 93 million miles away;)


Uh you do know they've already had about ten second sustained reaction in a test reactor right? The Earth didn't blow up, the scientists didn't die of radiation poisoning, and the walls didn't fall down...

Read.

Oh wait, we HAVE one of of those! So SOLAR power is the only practical fusion source. And it is available now, with increasing efficiencies soon available.


Yeah I keep hearing about the "increasing efficiencies coming to a theater near you" and NEVER see them. Kind of like (ironically) the sustained energy producing reaction in fusion reactors.
Ethelred
not rated yet Mar 06, 2009
Because every realistic fusion process we have produces lots of neutron radiation, which degrades the material the reactor walls are made of.


Design the wall for easy replacement. A lithium jacket would be needed in any case to absorb the neutrons to produce the needed tritium for a deuterium-tritium fusion cycle.

I don't see neutrons as a real problem. I see a lot of problems even for laser containment and a Tokomak still looks like an engineering nightmare with or without replaceable walls. It is beginning to look like fusion will be able to produce more power than it takes to reach ignition. The catch is making not just the ignition facility but a way to convert the energy to electricity in a way that is at least remotely effective. No one has more the vaguest notion as to how it can be done, especially for a Tokomak with its need for superconductors.

So your "university validation" is itself a scam.


Blacklight doesn't have validation. It has a test of the energy producing chemicals and NO information to show how much energy went into making them. A bomb calorimeter test of part of the process in no way validates the whole process. That Yep couldn't see this is not surprising. Critical thought is something he evades. He wants to believe and critical thought is terribly inconvenient for him.

He hasn't posted since. Of course that is only a few days but he was posting very regularly. I get tired of it for a while upon occasion myself. Then someone posts something I can't abide.

Ethelred
yep
1 / 5 (2) Mar 08, 2009
In my short life I have had several beliefs made obsolete by added knowledge. Critical thought can also be radically altered by perspective.

Where is the power coming from? Well the Universe is 90% Plasma. The American Institute Of Physics recognizes the Plasma Universe as an official field of Study.

Ancient literature shows Cannabis in a very good light as far as the mind and body is concerned. In fact Cannabis was the most valued medicine in the entire world until the industrialists eliminated it as competition to their petrochemical patent monopoly. "Fuel, Paper, Fiber, Food, Medicine, Educate Yourself"

Mushrooms are still safer and more effective in treating depression and anxieties than any approved poison pill today.

Many anthropologist believe was it not for our use of these entheogens we would still be living in the jungle with our chimp cousins.

As Far as Black light Technologies goes they seem to have all the funding they need. And I will keep my fingers crossed.

Bussard's Pollywell fusion reactor project seems to be going well.
Ethelred
not rated yet Mar 09, 2009
IWhere is the power coming from? Well the Universe is 90% Plasma.


Much of the Universe is not plasma. Vast quantities of cold gas exist. The Universes overall temperature is mere 2.7 degrees K. And that wasn't an answer to the question.

Awaiting the answer.

The American Institute Of Physics recognizes the Plasma Universe as an official field of Study.


I notice that you don't actually link to it and neither does your favorite site. Couldn't find it on the AIP site either and a search for Plasma Universe there turned up old stuff and standard plasma research. If you know of something significant post a link. Bare unsupported claims aren't good enough unless its easy to find.

Awaiting the answer.

Ancient literature shows Cannabis

I grew up in the 60's so don't try to snow me with Cannabis Sativa. Heck I played an on line variant of Diplomacy where the chief god's name was Sativa.

Awaiting the answer.

Mushrooms are still safer and more effective in treating depression and anxieties than any approved poison pill today.


Based on what research?

How about a deathcap for your depression Mr. Lincoln. Now there was guy taking the wrong pills. Mercury based.

Awaiting the answer.

Many anthropologist believe was it not for our use of these entheogens we would still be living in the jungle with our chimp cousins.


You need to cut back on the psychoactive drugs. It was tools mate. Again do you have a link to support that claim?

Awaiting the answer.

And I will keep my fingers crossed.


How about uncrossing them and giving them money. They are a con. If you really believe that they can get more energy than they put in you are seriously lacking in sense.

Awaiting the answer.

Bussard's Pollywell fusion reactor project seems to be going well.


It seems to be going but not all that well.

There are a number of fusion projects that are getting somewhere at the scientific and even technical break even levels. Not a one at the level of actually producing usable energy or even having a good idea on how to do it.

Awaiting the answer.

I did notice that you didn't answer the question. You mentioned it. And then did a snow job apparently hoping that I wouldn't notice. I noticed. I always notice when someone does an evasion of my questions.

So again:

You also believe that a giant Electro Blasto causes supernova.

http://www.physor...258.html

I am still waiting with baited breath for you answer as to where the energy comes from. Yes, I will keep asking.


Awaiting the answer.

Ethelred
yep
1 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2009
Where is the energy coming from? It does seem to be all around us. There is a wide spectrum of power coursing through the universe from radio on through to gamma from Birkeland currents. NASA's THEMIS project found evidence in 2007 of these coming from our sun. According to the Electric Universe theory the sun is created by pinches in galactic birkeland currents.
" Where do they come from I could not say, but I bet they have come a long long way."
Here is another Plasma Astrophysics Reference
http://www.plasma...phys.htm

Monkeys use tools so do crows and fish. For in depth research on my claim of entheogens (Schultes and Hoffman 1979) (Dobkin De Rios 1984)( Devereux 1997)( McKenna 1992)

"There is no experimental or clinical evidence in animals or humans that psilocybin, even in very high doses, is..neurotoxic." Roland Griffiths lead researcher at John Hopkins.

I guess we will find out within the next year or so how on the level some of these projects are. Again I will remain optimistic even in the face of overwhelming odds and nay sayers.

Ethelred
not rated yet Mar 10, 2009
Where is the energy coming from? It does seem to be all around us.


I was asking about the Sun and Supernova. Not trivial levels of energy.

Monkeys use tools so do crows and fish.


So do crows. Whats the point? Actually I am not aware of any monkeys and can't think of any fish at the moment but I suppose its possible. Perhaps you are one of those that mistakes chimpanzees for monkeys. They all use tools for perfectly good reasons and there is no sign that they got the ideas from a trip. Us either.

According to the Electric Universe theory the sun is created by pinches in galactic birkeland currents.


Just one more reason to think that Not a Theory is a load of crap. It is possible that electromagnetic fields could help a gas cloud collapse but if you take a look at the Orion Nebula you might just notice the collapsing areas are cold gas and not plasmas. Gravitational is more than enough to explain star formation.

Your link had nothing to do with power of suns or supernovas.I am fully aware that plasma has effects in the Universe but the stuff on that site is not supporting you. It just fairly standard stuff.

I noticed that you have again not responded to the actual questions. So how about I post them again.

Where does the energy come from? For the sun and the Electro Blasto that you claim smashes suns(of course that is my term but it fits your description)?

How about a link to support the dubious claim about Magic Mushrooms? With actual anthropologists there.

If the currents on the surface of the Sun are generating all the power from it why are the areas where we do know there are major currents colder than the areas that have nothing significant?

Ethelred
yep
1 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2009
Cold Gas is plasma. ".. when the Electric Universe theory is considered, cold nebulae are evidence of electrical activity even at temperatures near absolute zero... We are looking at Plasma structures when we look at nebulae, and they behave according to the laws of electrical discharges and circuits."

The energy is from magnetic fields of Huge Birkeland current filaments flowing through the universe.

Not on the sun surface but through the sun. The electrical model considers the sun like a anode, while the cathode is the limit of the coronal discharge.(Heliosphere) Creating a cell in a galactic field." A Electric arc-lamp plugged into a galactic power grid."

A fusion model predicts a hot surface,but the reality is near surface temperature is 4400 degrees K compared to 20,000 K 1200 miles out then 2 million more degrees hotter farther out with some ionized oxygen atoms reaching 200 million degrees at a distance of two solar diameters.
This reverse temperature gradient falls in line with the glow discharge model and contradicts the fusion model.

Actual Anthropologists? Dubious claim? You Have a list of 5 great ones with dates of the supporting work. I Know you can google there is tons of other stuff out there as well if you care to look.

Ethelred
not rated yet Mar 11, 2009
Cold Gas is plasma


Only if it has a charge and that is very rare if its a cold gas. Even more rare with a molecular gas.

The energy is from magnetic fields of Huge Birkeland current filaments flowing through the universe.


And what powers those? I know what powers plasmas the question is, do you? Hint, there is more than one cause but only one is dominant.

The electrical model considers the sun like a anode, while the cathode is the limit of the coronal discharge.


So what causes the voltage differential?

A fusion model predicts a hot surface,but the reality is near surface temperature is 4400 degrees K


What sun are using. Our Sun is hotter than that. Around 5800K

compared to 20,000 K 1200 miles out then 2 million more degrees hotter farther out with some ionized oxygen atoms reaching 200 million degrees at a distance of two solar diameters.


Now that is a plasma. However magnetic churning seems a likely cause of the heating of the near vacuum of that plasma.

This reverse temperature gradient falls in line with the glow discharge model and contradicts the fusion model.


That part is incorrect. Besides your wagging the dog with the tail. A hot vacuum has little actual energy.

You Have a list of 5 great ones with dates of the supporting work.


No I don't. Otherwise I wouldn't have asked. Perhaps you forgot to post it.

I Know you can google there is tons of other stuff out there as well if you care to look.


I suspected that sort of evasion might occur. Though I actually expected you to find at least one not so great anthropologist. After all I am aware of one that did a study on drinking in Country Bars. He came to the conclusion that slow songs sold more drinks. Making fun music contraindicated.

http://query.nyti...6E948260

See I can find stuff I claim exists. Now you claimed it, you show it.

Ethelred
yep
1 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2009
I guess some of these ideas are conjecture even though these prestigious anthropologists listed above have spent decades in research. There really is not a way to prove it. Archeological evidence is just proof of early societies ritual use, not that it helped us evolve. Though I will still side with them in this belief because of the profound effects, and communities these substances help create, and what else could have caused this evolution in the neocortex. Some say climate change was a catalyst others like you say tools. I concede it was probably all of the above and not just one thing.

Though some people think alien experiments are responsible. I'm not that far out, but who knows what I'll eat next.

"In cosmic molecular clouds where stars are formed, just one charged particle in ten thousand neutral particles is sufficient for electric and magnetic forces to overcome gravity."

"Magnetic fields generated by birkeland currents have been detected between and within galaxies. These currents are not visible because the current density is to low to excite the plasma to emit light:the current is in what plasma physicists call dark current mode." Once this current nears the sun the normal glow region (corona) current density increases radiating light with the intensity of neon. Closer still we enter the arc region (photosphere) with light intensity like an arc welder. Ralph Juergens was the creator of this Electric sun model. His hypothesis does not require a fusion solar genie or violate Maxwell's equation like the the fusion model does.

This magnetic churning is the twisting currents producing these magnetic fields and voltage differential created between anode tufts and the central umbrae the region called penumbra.

Did Schrodinger have a dog?
Ethelred
not rated yet Mar 12, 2009
I guess some of these ideas are conjecture even though these prestigious anthropologists listed above have spent decades in research.


You listed them about tool use. Not shrooms.

Schultes and Hoffman seem to study psychoactive drug use in human shamanistic rituals. This has been done for years. They may at some time have done to much 'personal' study and made some 'enhanced' remarks regarding creativity. No one has shown any actual improvement in creativity. Well nothing that can stand up to scrutiny.

De Rios, Marlene Dobkin is not much of a researcher. She is mostly a family therapist.

Devereux - I can only find a George Devereux and he died in 1985 so he couldn't have written in 1997.

And now a book by Paul Devereux and its the usual stuff in that regard. History of psychadelia.

Dr. Dennis J. McKenna, more of the same "pursued the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens."

This stuff has been around for a long time. Carlos Castaneda conned his way to a PhD. at UCLA with his alleged studies of shamanism in Mexico. He almost certainly made it all up. I am certain he did make up the sequels. If he met a guy called Don Juan it was at a bar in Tijuana.

Nothing there about fish using tools. That one I have to see to believe. Its possible if you have a loose definition of tools. A hermit crab could be described as a tool user.

Some say climate change was a catalyst


I think climate change may have driven human ancestors out onto the savanna and then tools use was developed. That is fairly mainstream.

Though some people think alien experiments are responsible.


Try David Brin's series The Uplift Wars. Of course David doesn't believe it and doesn't have rational humans thinking it. Or rational apes or dolphins either. Just the aliens and a bunch of born again Von Dankenites.

ust one charged particle in ten thousand neutral particles is sufficient for electric and magnetic forces to overcome gravity


I seriously doubt that. For one thing the particles are not likely to stay charged and for another the gas clouds are better vacuums than we can make in most labs. Any charged particles at that level of density are just not likely to affect the rest of the cloud. However once a cloud starts to collapse gravity will cause a positive feed back loop. Greater density yields faster collapse which yields greater density. Only the heat released can slow it down.

Magnetic fields generated by birkeland currents have been detected between and within galaxies


The Earth's Birkland currents are a product of the Earth's magnetic field interacting with charged particles from the Sun. The currents don't create the power. They are a channel for the power and the channel is delimited by the Earth's magnetic field. So the currents are not some sort of self-creating power source. They are result of power from the Solar Wind and not a creator of it.

Magnetic fields generated by birkeland currents have been detected between and within galaxies


I can't find anything to support that claim. I can find a statement on your usual site:

http://www.plasma...c_medium

That says something quite different. And it links to something that says some thing different from THAT. Kind of like a rumor game were what went in is not recognizable in what comes out.

The most tenuous intergalactic medium (between galaxies) has been calculated to carry current of 1017 - 1019 Amps


Please note the key word "calculated" and NOT detected. Then check the article that is sited to support it. Its a bit different further.

http://articles.a...y?1978Ap&SS..55..487A

"Interstellar clouds and the formation of stars."

Interstellar is NOT intergalactic. It fails by a rather large factor of about a 10 million. That's a pretty large error factor there. On top of that its all calculations with no testing of the numbers produced. I don't think it can be tested either. Interstellar probes just don't exist yet and its much farther to nearest nebula than the nearest star.

His hypothesis does not require a fusion solar genie or violate Maxwell's equation like the the fusion model does.


Well the fusion doesn't violate Maxwell AND fusion is real. Just ask the people of Bikini Atoll. The US Government is finally allowing them to return after we set off a fission ignited fusion bomb. Fusion has been achieved in two completely different types of bombs plus by both magnetic and laser containment in controlled fusion experiments. Fusion makes sense and the numbers work.

Oh gosh I am so impressed by Ralph Juergens. He worked with that utter crank Velikovsky. On the Ethelred Crank Scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being Hydroplate Nonsense Velikovsky scores a 10. One of many I am afraid. Right up there with the Hollow Earth. It has to be so idiotic its funny to get at a 10. Association with Velikovsky most likely causes brain damage.

Oh my, even Velikovsky thought he was wrong.

http://www.veliko...Juergens

Well his ideas about the celestial pin ball machine are still grossly silly.

Even Juergen's own numbers for the power the Sun would produce with his ideas were short by a factor of 40. I think its crap as an idea. Fusion is real. The numbers work. The neutrino prediction was off by a factor of three UNTILL it was proved that neutrinos had a small amount of mass allowing for neutrinos to change flavor. So with flavor changes one third of the electron neutrinos predicted turns out to be the right answer. So there just is no reason to claim the Sun is not fusion engine.

Did Schrodinger have a dog?


I don't know if even had a cat. He certainly had mistresses.

http://en.wikiped...ödinger

Ethelred
Ethelred
not rated yet Mar 12, 2009
It took me three tries to get all those quotes closed properly and that broke the links so four edits in total. Interesting that editing breaks the links.

So now I know how that happens.

Ethelred
dachpyarvile
5 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2009
Ok, let's not forget what will happen to the environment when they kick up production of these solar cells and begin installing them over many acres of land.

Increased amounts of gases which are up to 17,000 times stronger greenhouses gases than CO2 will enter into the atmosphere in larger amounts as a result, as well as huge amounts of habitat for "marginal" wildlife will be destroyed, endangering many species.

It's kind of like destroying the earth to save it! Isn't that ironic? :)
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2009
Ok, let's not forget what will happen to the environment when they kick up production of these solar cells and begin installing them over many acres of land.



Increased amounts of gases which are up to 17,000 times stronger greenhouses gases than CO2 will enter into the atmosphere in larger amounts as a result, as well as huge amounts of habitat for "marginal" wildlife will be destroyed, endangering many species.



It's kind of like destroying the earth to save it! Isn't that ironic? :)


Hush now....don't confuse the faithful with something as mundane as facts...
Ethelred
not rated yet Mar 31, 2009
Increased amounts of gases which are up to 17,000 times stronger greenhouses gases than CO2


Which gasses and why do you think they will be released in greater amounts?

Claiming it will happen is not enough. Give a reason.

Ethelred
dachpyarvile
not rated yet Mar 31, 2009
Increased amounts of gases which are up to 17,000 times stronger greenhouses gases than CO2




Which gasses and why do you think they will be released in greater amounts?



Claiming it will happen is not enough. Give a reason.



Ethelred


See http://www.physor...592.html
dachpyarvile
not rated yet Mar 31, 2009
dachpyarvile
not rated yet Mar 31, 2009