Green Electricity: 25 Green Technologies That Will Electrify Your Future

Green Electricity: 25 Green Technologies That Will Electrify Your Future

Green Electricity: 25 Green Technologies That Will Electrify Your Future

Green Electricity: 25 Green Technologies That Will Electrify Your Future

Synopsis

Our existing electric utility industry and power supply and delivery systems are woefully outdated. Indeed, the existing power grid we use today uses 100-year-old technology This book lays out the possible blueprints for a greener future in a way that will engage middle school learners, enabling students and teachers to explore the emerging energy technologies that could become the future of our electrical supply system.

In Part 1 of "Green Electricity: 25 Green Technologies That Will Electrify Your Future," the author describes the amazing patchwork of 1,300 power plants and over 5 million miles of wire that comprise our national grid and reveals the environmental damages it produces. Part 2 examines the 25 leading ecofriendly contenders to modernize and replace our current grid, describing each proposed technology and how it works. Other relevant information is also provided, such as a qualitative assessment of the pluses, minuses, and limitations of each system, and an assessment of that technology's potential to contribute to our future electrical appetite.

Excerpt

Tuesday, May 15, 2030: The sun has just crept into the morning sky as the alarm clock in your electric CD player clicks on. Music fills your bedroom. Electric circuits automatically click on to warm your floor, heat water for your shower, and power the toaster for your morning waffle. It sounds just like today, right? Wrong! It may seem the same inside your house. But outside it’s a new and wondrous science fiction–like world of electric green energy technologies.

Your roof is now an electric power plant supplying advanced photovoltaic energy not only to your house, but also to sell back to the local utility company. No longer do the utility wires (called the “grid”) snake out from smoke-belching power plants surrounded by giant mounds of coal. A nonpolluting microwave receiver dish that catches energy beamed down from orbiting space collectors and converts it into electricity has replaced them. Or maybe your utility company will create its own fist-sized sun, using fusion energy that can convert a cup of water into enough electricity to power a city. As you stretch and rise from bed, you find that the electricity meter outside your house (part of the new Smart Grid) has sent you a text message that your clothes dryer is using more energy than it used to and likely needs repair. It also suggests that the electric rates for your water heater would be lower if you were to get up a bit earlier and shower before 7:00 AM.

Electricity may still look the same and work the same. (Plug something into a wall socket and you get electricity—as much as you want, any time you want. Flip a switch and electricity obediently goes to work—exactly where you want it to go and to do exactly what you want it to. Shove in a new battery, and the electricity hiding inside dutifully makes your portable music play all day.) But the way that electricity is created and delivered to your wall sockets does not. That part of the electricity story will look very different.

Will this fascinating future electrical world really be here by 2030? Depends on where you live. But it will definitely be here during your lifetime.

We technologically advanced humans are ravenously hungry for electricity. We use it to create our light; cook our food; heat our rooms; and power our phones, CD players, hearing aids, and computers. We rely on electricity to tell us the time, power our elevators and escalators, run the signal lights that control traffic at each city intersection, and start and control our cars.

Beginning with Benjamin Franklin’s famous 1750 kite experiment, we have learned that electricity is just a gushing river of electrons, those infinitesimally small particles that whiz around inside atoms. Collect trillions of electrons and send them stampeding down a wire, and you have electricity.

You flip a light switch, and it’s electrons that surge at your command through the wires that link switch to bulb. You push a button to fire up your computer, and it is electrons that faithfully race into the computer’s maze of circuitry innards to bring your e-mails and Internet searches to vivid life. Electricity is simply a flow of electrons.

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