Oil isn’t the only thing that’s been changing in the past year. As the US continues to see plummeting oil prices thanks to an overabundance of it, 2015 saw coal use for energy production drop from 39% of total energy production to 34%. This drop in use reflects the closure of coal fired power plants, as well as an increased demand for other forms of energy, particularly among the renewable sector. The last time we had a coal mix this low was back in 1949.
Carbon emissions are also on the decline thanks to the reduction in coal use. This past year’s levels were 18% lower than 2005’s levels, which is a significant drop, considering that the coal industry was the biggest polluter and the prime target of President Obama’s clean energy plan. The drop in emissions is a little more than half of the target President Obama set of
Climate change is taking its toll around the world. California is facing massive droughts where wildfires are becoming common occurrences, polar ice caps are deteriorating at rapid rates, and storms are becoming stronger. The energy sector is especially concerned with record temperatures, droughts, and storms and their potential for destruction and disruption of power facilities.
Energy secretary Ernest Moniz mentioned that the extreme temperatures and droughts caused by climate change have had a damaging effect on energy infrastructure throughout the United States. He adds “we need innovative solutions that will make our energy sector more resilient, more flexible, and more efficient….” He made these comments alongside Mayor Eric Garcietti at a Los Angeles fire station that was about to be outfitted with solar panels and battery backup energy storage systems. These battery backups are needed more and more, particularly in California, where wildfires constantly threaten power lines.
When you hear the name “Tesla,” what do you think of? The gas-less electric vehicle? Tesla coils? Tesla was more than an inventor whose namesake went on to brand a sleek electric vehicle; he was a visionary that brought the modern world many useful things. In fact, every electronic device that you plug in inside your home is based on Tesla’s design for electrical energy transmission: alternating current or AC.
Though Thomas Edison, a mentor of Tesla, designed the light bulb, Tesla made the transmission of energy to power the light bulb more efficient. Alternating current reverses the direction of the flow of electrons at regular intervals. Thomas Edison’s method was direct current, or DC. This sends the electrons only in one direction. We still use this method through the use of batteries, but AC is definitely superior.
Among Tesla’s 300 or so patents, he
All of our thoughts and actions are the results of electrical impulses in our brains, travelling along nerves to muscles all over our body. Just typing the words in this blog results from thousands upon thousands of little electric impulses causing the muscles to expand and contract, forming precise, deft movements (when they don’t make typos) that allow a person to type. These electrical impulses are just like any other electrical charge you’d find in the world outside our bodies. From batteries to natural gas plants, hand crank generators to wind turbines. What if we could harness that energy?
All of the electrical impulses in our body, like that in a battery, come from chemical energy. Take the heart, for example. The cells of the heart (specifically, SA node cells) contain potassium at their center. Outside of a membrane barrier, there is sodium and calcium. As
“I love high humidity!” said no one, ever. Well, maybe no one except scientists. Recent discoveries in energy production technologies have revealed that humidity and the evaporation of water can produce energy. Through the medium of bacterial spores, bioengineers at Columbia University discovered that small “engines” can be produced using water as the sole fuel source.
In most cases, fuel is burned causing a chemical reaction which produces energy. In the case of the “evaporation engine” and the “moisture mill,” the only fuel is water, but it is not burned, only absorbed. The bacteria spores absorb water in the atmosphere around them, swelling their size. When the spore is exposed to dry air, it releases this moisture and shrinks. It may not seem like much is happening, but that shrinking and expanding can be used to great effect in generating energy.
In the case of the evaporation
Cities always tend to be hotter in the summer as opposed to more rural areas. They contain a lot more heat absorbing and radiating asphalt as well as numerous buildings, cars, trucks, and sometimes planes generating a lot of heat. This effect of cities being hotter is called the urban heat island effect. But with the rise of all electric cars, we could see these heat islands become cooler in the years to come.
Gasoline and diesel powered engines burn fossil fuels, containing small explosions to drive pistons which power the vehicle. Most of the energy expelled from these small explosions are lost as heat rather than the force pushing the pistons. That heat, as well as the air pollution, is expelled from the engine block. All electric vehicle engines run considerably cooler than a conventional gas engine.
Researchers have concluded that if the entire city of
Valentine’s Day is this week, and if you are still uncertain what to get your significant other, we have a few do-it-yourself electric gadgets to spark the love and charge you both up with 1.21 gigawatts of happy feelings. These projects range from “pretty simple” to “might need to be an electrician,” but if you have the know-how, you can definitely put a smile on your partner’s face!
1. LED Valentine’s Card - Take the classic Valentine’s Card and give it a jolt of awesome by making it light up! This LED Valentine features 16 red LEDs that pulse around a heart shape that you can set the speed of to match your own beating heart (awwwww).
2. LOVE LED Display - By using four 7-segment LEDs (much like the display of a digital clock), some wiring, a paper clip, some resistors, a 5 volt power source,
Power surges are sudden increases in potential energy that can overload electrical circuits, appliances, and electronics in your home. They can occur for several reasons and it is a good idea to take measures protecting your home from them. Power surges can damage electronic components and even totally fry items, like computers.
The most common cause of electrical surges is lightning. A lightning strike, even just near a power line, is enough to increase the nearby electrical currents by millions of volts. Most conventional surge protectors in your home cannot withstand the surge from a lightning strike, so the best way to save sensitive electronics like computers is to unplug them until after the storm passes.
Power surges can also be caused by some demanding appliances in your home. Refrigerators and air conditioners require a boost of electricity when turning on compressors and fan motors. These types
Energy is all around us, taking many different forms and being used for many different purposes. Do you know your energy? Energy comes from generation facilities that are either renewable or nonrenewable. This energy is purchased in shares by retail energy providers (REPs) and sold to consumers. So, what types of energy are out there?
Nonrenewable energy sources are finite reserves of fuel. These include coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power.
— Coal – Coal is probably the most common fuel source used for generating energy. Coal burns at a high temperature, which heats steam to power turbines. Coal is a cheap fuel source that is very plentiful, but it also releases the most carbon into the atmosphere.
— Oil – Oil is a very common fuel source for transportation. Crude oil is extracted from oil fields, then refined by boiling the different
For many, October is well known for Halloween parties, trick or treating, and costumes galore. For us, it’s about energy awareness! The U.S. Department of Energy has designated October as National Energy Awareness Month, during which it aims to increase the awareness and benefits of energy efficiency. In the past, the Department of Energy partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency to promote the “Change a Light, Change the World” campaign. This campaign demonstrated how changing from outdated incandescent bulbs to energy efficient CFLs and LEDs to reduce energy consumption, sometimes netting a company extra benefits like tax deductions for using these more efficient technologies.
Being Energy Aware
Energy awareness at its core is supposed to highlight the benefit of being green, which isn’t limited to just light bulbs. You can be energy efficient about running your AC or heat, cooking, or driving. You could use programmable or