Geothermal Electricity, Tidal Power Plant, Soy Biodiesel, and More Energy Flashes

Geothermal electricity, tidal power plants, and soy biodiesel were among the active areas of energy research the magazine reported on in 1980.

| November/December 1980

HEAT FROM A FORMATION OF GRANITE located two miles beneath the earth's surface has been used — by scientists from the Los Alamos, New Mexico Scientific Laboratory — to generate geothermal electricity. Simply stated, water under pressure is circulated through two deep holes bored into the granite, creating a closed-loop system in which the liquid's temperature can reach well above the boiling point.

TREASURE OF THE DEEP: Canada has announced plans to build a $46 million experimental tidal-power plant in the Annapolis Basin of the Bay of Fundy. The facility — scheduled to be operating by 1983 — will have a capacity of 1,200 megawatts ... roughly the equivalent of a modern nuclear plant. When completed, it'll be the largest tidal-power plant in the world.

SOY BIODIESEL: Scientists at Ohio State University are operating a campus bus with a 20-80 blend of soybean cooking oil and diesel fuel. The mixture gives better MPG and produces less smoke than does the petroleum product alone! And, there's an additional benefit: The price of the soy "booster" is right. The oil is recovered — after it's been used to cook French fries — from the school's cafeteria.

"HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME ...." Ironically, the crippled Three Mile Island nuclear plant has become a popular Pennsylvania tourist attraction. Between 1970 and 1979, a total of 180,000 visitors stopped at the nuclear facility's observation center. But since March 1979 — when the accident occurred — some 67,000 people have come to view the plant.

DROP THEM A LINE: If you operate an alcohol fuel installation — or are building or plan to build an ethanol plant — the Department of Energy's Solar Energy Research Institute would like to know about it. SERI is developing a data base on U.S. fuel distilleries.

TUCK IN YOUR PLANTS? Tests at Penn State, Cornell, and Rutgers indicate that greenhouse owners can realize savings of up to 60% in energy costs if they pull thermal blankets (made from air-inflated polyethylene or other materials) over beds of growing plants to limit the influence of chilly nighttime temperatures. Researchers estimate that fuel savings will recover the material and installation expense in one to three years.

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