Martin on Apr 12th 2008
Most of the places where conditions to build a Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System are ideal are far from industrial or urban centers. So, what to do with the vast quantities of power if there are no electrical grids close enough to a TIE System? The answer is to export it in a chemical medium. There are many ways to store energy in chemical form that are familiar. The battery is the most familiar of all.
A battery generates electricity by moving electrons from one chemical to another. Rechargable batteries are set up in such a way that this flow of electrons can be reversed when an outside (stronger) current is applied. However, batteries are produced by heavy polluting industries and generally out of chemicals that are in short supply and hazardous. Also, batteries consume huge amounts of energy relative to the amount they can deliver at the end.
Hydrogen is also a chemical way to store energy but there are many disadvantages to it. (Please see Hydrogen)
So what else is out there?
One of my favorite technologies involves zinc by the Weitzman team in Israel. The idea is essentially that powdered zinc oxide is heated to the point where the oxygen is removed leaving pure zinc. The pure zinc is fairly stable and can be easily moved anywhere in the world. Once the pure zinc is added to water it breaks the water molecules apart. The zinc takes the oxygen to form zinc oxide and releases pure hydrogen. Pure hydrogen can be used in a fuel cell or burnt in a traditional combustion engine. This process is possible in many elements, including iron. Zinc has the advantage over iron of being much lighter and very abundant.
It is important to be creative about this process and I am very interested in other people’s thoughts about compounds and methods for safely transporting potential energy on a vast scale.
Just as a start for this forum: How difficult would it be to chemically make methane on a large scale? If the electricity generated at the TIE System was used to break water into hydrogen and oxygen, how difficult would it be to add the carbon atom to the hydrogen and turn it into methane? Methane is much more stable and easy to transport than pure hydrogen. It also has the advantage of fitting into our existing energy infrastructure.
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