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Power Science Technology

US Funding Five Game-Changing Energy Projects 529

coondoggie writes "Taking aim at developing some progressive energy technologies the US Department of Energy said it will write a $130 million check to develop five areas, including plants engineered to replace oil, thermal power storage, rare earth alternatives and what it calls the energy equivalent of an Internet router."
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US Funding Five Game-Changing Energy Projects

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  • Re:$130mil? Wowzers~ (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:25PM (#35926230)

    Well, we could change $130 million to $130 Billion if we could work out some sort of compromise. For example, we could drill ANWR, which is federal land (meaning federal oil), and mandate that the feds set aside $10 for each barrel of oil sold for investment into "green energy".

    Oh, wait. We can't do that. A Caribou may have to have sex five miles from where he had it last year. Nevermind.

    ANWAR solves nothing it's strictly about oil company profits. I believe Obama pointed out that we could provide as much oil as is in ANWAR by keeping our tires inflated properly. The Republicans made fun of him but neglected to point out that he was right. We can relive more pressure faster and cheaper through conservation and that is a fact than opening up all public lands to drilling. Set car average MPG at 50 and minimum at 30 which is doable and you'll save as much as 10 ANWARs and it can happen in a fraction of the time. The problem is conserving doesn't line corporate pockets and that's why it's not an option.

  • by jovetoo ( 629494 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @12:41AM (#35926598) Journal
    Routing power is a bit more complex than routing a packet.

    For one, a packet is a discrete amount of information, while power is a complex analog phenomenon. You can put a packet on a link and hope it gets there, you can't just put a kilowatt on a power line...

    A more conceptual difference is how demand is distributed. A network client talks to a few distributed servers on the Internet. A power client just demands power and does not care where it comes from or if the server cannot deliver it. When a server gets overloaded, the clients just have to wait. If a power plant gets overloaded and the power cannot be gotten elsewhere, the service of the whole network goes down (voltage drops) unless some of the load is cut. If a certain network link is overloaded, packets get dropped. If a power line is overloaded, (hopefully) circuit breakers pop and ALL power transfer is interrupted.

    Some practical problems you will run into with power switching:

    • power conversion - the power grid is not uniform. There are several types of high-voltage lines and power needs to be converted to route power between them. Those conversions introduce losses and have capacity limits.
    • transport losses - each length of power cable introduces loss.
    • power plant characteristics - each power source has its own characteristics. For example, the output of a nuclear power plant is more or less constant and cannot adjusted to changing demand.
    • changing demand - power demand changes drastically over the course of a day, both in level and geographically. During office hours, power is needed in office buildings, during the evening in households, ...
    • load characteristics - inductive load vs capacitive load. In ideal situations, you would combine them to get a resistive load as much as possible as this leads to optimum power efficiency.
    • politics - which, I have read on the Internet, is one of the major sources of blackouts in the US.

    As an aside to the last point, I wonder why blackouts happen so regularly in the US while the are exceedingly rare in Europe. I am in Belgium and I get a "blackout" once every decade or something. I do sometimes experience glitches where you see the lights dim and computers with lousy power supplies reboot... once every few years or so. It suggests to me, whatever the problem is, it isn't technical...

  • by BobGregg ( 89162 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:22AM (#35928092) Homepage

    >> The Obama administration, for example, both has engineered a ban of incandescent lightbulbs
    >> and a ludicrous increase in the required gas mileage for auto manufacturers via CAFE.

    Sigh... The Obama administration had nothing to do with the ban.


    Signed into law by George Bush. If yer gonna tell lies about Obama, at least do 5 seconds of research.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling