Point-Of-Use Power Generation

Reader Contribution by Ruth Domingo
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Rethinking the Existing Power Grid

As the world enters into a new solar minimum, the chances of a massive coronal mass ejection are dampened at the very least, though still a factor that should not be entirely dismissed altogether. The potential for an electromagnetic pulse are a far more unsettling possibility, as such an occurrence would likely be ringing in the commencement of hostilities between nations … in which case electrical energy may not be the most pressing of concerns. Still, despite all of this, the electrical power grid is old, unstable, vulnerable to numerous causes of failure and expensive and time-consuming to replace. As such, it seems not only beneficial, but even prudent to consider the potential for point of use energy production devices.

The electrical grid is not sustainable by any stretch in its current form. There is a vast difference between a coronal mass ejection or CME and an electromagnetic pulse which bears noting, even in passing. An electromagnetic pulse is a very high frequency event that will effectively burn up virtually all of the electronic equipment exposed to such an occurrence. The CME on the other hand, is a much more commonly occurring, natural phenomena that requires a long antenna to transmit the burst. While a naturally occurring charged plasma CME would not necessarily burn up all of the electronic equipment, it would still effectively disable the entire electrical grid at least on the surface of the planet that was struck directly.

The Cost of Loss of the Power Grid

According to Dr. Peter Ryan, a physicist working with NASA, there is somewhere around a 10-percent chance of a massive CME physically striking the earth anytime between now and somewhere around 2022. According to the government, such a catastrophe would be more expensive than Hurricane Katrina, merely in terms of loss of infrastructure from the reigning chaos. It would take literally years before all of the necessary infrastructure was rebuilt and power restored to the coastal regions should such a strike hit the US directly.

This of course, does not take into account the toll on humanity. The coastal regions, in case anyone has missed it, are where the vast majority of the American population lives. A couple of years without telephones, internet, ATMs or other modern conveniences would all cause their own problems. Fortunately, as was noted, the chances for such an occurrence are at least minimized as we enter into a solar minimum … but this does absolutely nothing to stabilize the electrical grid either. Thus, there is a notable demand if not an absolute need for the means to generate electrical energy on site or as it is more commonly referred to, point of use electrical power generation.

Viable Alternatives to the Power Grid

Many homesteaders and others who live in more isolated, rural locations already have options at their disposal should they encounter any long or even short term loss of electrical energy. However, most of these options are very limited in nature and design, often create an excessive level of pollution, and are by and large wholly unsustainable in nature.

One of the directions that these articles will ideally lead into, is the introduction of numerous point of use technologies that can be introduced on the homestead, often without having to tie back into the broken power grid. Again, this is something of an introductory article, hoping to get some feedback from the readers in order to see what types of information are most commonly requested. However, in their work with governments and other organizations around the world, the author has come across a great many technologies that will be introduced in these pages.

Among the most promising technologies is a Helioconverter technology that converts municipal solid waste and other unregulated waste materials into a series of byproducts including multi-use, marketable byproducts, potable water and biodiesel. If there is any real drawback, it is that there is a net loss of natural gas production, but this is largely offset by the fact that there is no exhaust as the natural gas (or methane) produced during the decomposition, is used to heat the waste without incineration … meaning without any exhaust or the release of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide or carbon particulate matter into the environment unchecked.

Another very promising technology that may not be suitable for every homestead, but that can be used in locations with large volumes of running water, is a hydrogenerator that is fully scale-able and has the capacity to generate all of the necessary energy for the average home.

Yet another viable option is a solar generator that utilized high-efficiency collectors to generate a level of energy sufficient to charge batteries … which is another area of personal interest for the author … including the sodium/sulfur batteries and other viable alternatives to the lithium and lead acid batteries. These will be augmented with introductions to fuel cells that run on propane or natural gas, forced micro-turbines, electromagnetic technologies and other options that are either already available on the commercial markets in addition to some that are in the final phases of testing and development.

Some of these articles will be technical articles breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of the technologies being presented, while others will include interviews with the inventors, developers and other staff or key personnel who have a more intimate knowledge of the inner workings and exactly how it will benefit you, the reader. However, in order to determine what is most suitable for the existing audience as introductions are made, and as the place of the author on this blog becomes more well-refined, it is imperative that the reader let it be known exactly what it is that they want and need to see on these pages.

List of Historical Solar Events

In 1859, what became known as “The Carrington Event” stemmed from a solmass coronal ejection or CME coming from the sun. The Carrington Event was powerful enough to destroy the telegraph systems throughout Europe and the United States. It may be easy to laugh off the idea of losing the telegraph, but it should be noted that there was no electrical grid in existence at the time … had there been, it would have been completely destroyed as well.

“The Great Geo-Magnetic Storm of 1921” is considered to be one of the five worst recorded events of solar storms, it disrupted communications traffic from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River. On May 15, it not only disrupted but knocked out of operation, the entire signal and switching system of the New York Central Railroad below 125th street. This outage then was followed by a fire in the control tower at 57th and Park Avenue. The same storm burned out a Swedish telephone station and interfered with telephone, telegraph and cable traffic over most of Europe.

1958 – In the last century, there also have been other events such as the Feb. 11, 1958, solar storm which resulted in nationwide radio blackouts. According to various reports, auroras were visible in Boston, Seattle, Canada and Newfoundland. The storm reportedly was so intense over Europe that newspaper reports at the time said that there was concern for fires and the fear that war had broken out again.

1989 – The entire province of Quebec was blacked out from a glancing blow from a passing plasma storm. (The latter portion of the “tail” of the storm was likely the only portion that passed through the atmosphere of the earth … had the storm hit directly, the damage would have been substantially greater.

2012 – A geomagnetic plasma cloud resulting from yet another CME, barely missed the earth. This one was deemed to be larger than both the events of 1859 and 1921 which adversely impacted vast swathes of Europe and the US. The estimated damage and financial impact of a direct hit was estimated by the US government to be over two trillion US dollars … but that would not be the worst of it these days.

Reference Resources

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110302-solar-flares-sun-stormsearth-danger-carrington-event-science/

https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/186805-the-solar-storm-of-2012-that-almost-sent-us-back-to-a-post-apocalyptic-stone-age

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/23jul_superstorm/

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