dunniteowl's post-modern philosophical musings

The More Familiar I Become, the Stranger I Get


Bastrop, Texas, USA
October 11
Supreme Commander of the Universe
The Best Company in the World
Matriculated from: School of Hard Knocks and Diablo Valley College (AA in Communications Tech.) Done all kinds of things for work. Painted sidewalk curb address numbers, sold shoes, USAF Radio Electronics Tech, Semiconductor Tech for AMD, Intel & SEEQ Technologies, worked at Stanford Linear Accelerator upgrading motherboards for Beam Current Magnet Control, IBM building "Industrial Strength" Voice Activated Dialing networks, server systems and intranets, sold greeting cards, nuts, grapes, newspapers and found pets, janitored, worked in fast foods, pizza and data entry. I even clerked at a 7-11 and also ran a big searchlight for those events at night. Also worked at a zoo, where I pretty much did everything you can do at a zoo other than be eaten. Some of those critters do bite. I write and have been since 1972. I have written poetry, fantasy, science fiction and horror stories. I also have come to enjoy essays relating to human experience, the future and being good stewards of this planet. I believe I'm funny sometimes, so chuckle occasionally at my weird jokes and allusions. Very into science and technology, love logic and reason. For some reason, though, I am also a certified Shaman. I can cast horoscopes and read Tarot cards as well (from the expressions on people's faces and their responses, I am apparently quite accurate most of the time.) Love photography: You can find me here: http://s52.photobucket.com/albums/g31/dunniteowl/ and here: http://www.viewbug.com/my-account/photos (if those don't work properly, just go to the main pages and do a search for 'dunniteowl' I am the only one on the internet as far as I know.) I also love game design, starting with board wargames, card games and RPGs. Please comment if you feel like it. I don't care about being "tipped" and don't even really understand it as a function. I signed up on Open Salon so I could have a wider outlet for my writing and hope that you find it of interest at all. This bio is a reflection of things to come, so be prepared.


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JANUARY 30, 2012 5:45PM

The Alternatives: New Things, New Ways, New Ideas and Hope

Rate: 13 Flag

I have spoken before on the things that are wrong in the world today.  We have all sorts of things that could kill us in some fashion.  We have people and corporations, seemingly hell bent on controlling the world as it crumbles down around our heads.  Crumbling because of their selfishness, greed and lack of concern or compassion for their fellow man.


I’m not here to speak of this today.  Today I bring a message of hope.  I speak of new things, new ideas and new ways of doing things.  Forget for a moment that we are involved in an Ideological War right now.  That’s been the case since two men could argue over how to do something and the results expected.  I talk today of a battlefront of change.


Oil.  That gooey black stuff makes our world work and run the way it has for a century.  This resource is the harbinger of untold wealth, incredible power, change and technological innovation like nothing seen in all of recorded history.  You gotta admit, that ain’t no lie.  Oil has literally turned our world upside down and shook all the change it can out of it.


The times, as Bob Dylan says, they are a’changin.’  This is a short synopsis of the things that are being developed today that can literally reshape our world when it comes to energy usage.  There are some really exciting developments in batteries, solar power, wind generation, water power, materials that make electrical transmission cheaper, more efficient and other things as well.  I went through and compiled a series of links for you to check out.



 What’s My Motivation?   Battery Technology: 



     Since we were talking about oil, let’s start with Cambridge Crude powered batteries.  This is a new technology that utilizes two concepts combined.  Flow batteries are like liquid cell batteries.  You know, those big lead/acid monsters in your car, weighing forty pounds in a twelve, by fifteen, by ten-inch (and that’s one of the smaller ones) plastic container in your car, truck, or recreational vehicles of varying size.  The other is the same as standard lithium-ion batteries; ion exchange and transfer.  Combined, the liquid component resembles a thick, black goo, called “Cambridge Crude” even though it’s not oil at all.


     This advance promises to reduce the number of components, cost and complexity of standard batteries of pretty much all types.  It also promises other advantages.  Like, because it’s a liquid, it can be pumped out of the battery and refilled when the charge runs out.  In large batteries to power a car, say, you could literally pump out the discharged fluid and refill it with new, charged fluid.  Better yet, changing fluid to charge the battery isn’t the only way.  You could recharge the battery in conventional ways, leaving the slurry in the battery and putting it on a charger.


     Better still, these new batteries can potentially store ten times more efficiently than conventional ones.  Compared to a lead/acid battery, the storage potential is even higher.  This means your digital camera, iPod, laptop or Prius battery can power these things ten times longer before recharging.  Imagine; you could go on a nature hike all day on a single battery for your iPod, cell phone, GPS tracker, camera and flashlight.  All electric vehicles could be competitive with standard gasoline engines with this type of battery.


     How cool is that?



     Next up, something old, something new.  Engineers at Northwestern University have found a novel way to increase the power storage of standard lithium-ion batteries through the process of creating a perforated cell.  This process of micro or nano perforation in the material allows more ion storage in the same amount of overall volume.  It can increase performance up to ten times longer and charges ten times faster.  Additionally, the batteries will allow for more overall charges over the lives of the batteries.  It will last for longer charge times as well, though the technology isn’t expected to hit the streets for another five years.



     New nano-tube technology may allow you to recharge your battery-powered device in about a minute from drained to fully charged.  No more sticking your phone, iPod or other battery powered device in some wall socket or USB connected charger for two hours for you to be able to walk free, yet still hanging out with your latest cool tech toy.  This one comes to you from the Argonne National Laboratory.  Yes, the same of several DOE facilities that also bring you the latest in nuclear weapons and energy technology.


     You gotta admit, though, that’s still pretty cool, right?  Even better, by changing some of the materials, they can improve the reliability and safety of the batteries as well.



     Abandoning lithium for materials in new batteries, Yi Cui at Stanford University has created a battery that still retains 83% of it’s charge after 40,000 cycles.  Your average Li-O battery can withstand a measly 1,000 cycles.  40,000?  We’re talking some serious improvements that will reduce the number of dead or recycled batteries cluttering up the environment.  The materials have a high weight cost, though, so these puppies are not going to be running your laptops, iPods and other handheld devices – bummer.


     On the plus side, their storage capacity and lifetime recharging cycle makes them great candidates to act as storage batteries for wind power, solar and for excess capacity in conventional electrical generation.  A battery like this could last thirty years plugged into the power grid.  This battery still needs some work to be complete; the anode material is yet to be developed.  This one, though, when solved, looks like it could make a huge dent in our storage potential for electrical power generation on the large scale.


     In the case of these batteries from this type of materials improvements, the sizes of the batteries being discussed are like the size of a tractor-trailer.  Cargo container-sized batteries!  Holy Charge, Batman!



     You want quick charging and high power release of energy?  The boys at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign might have a battery for you.  Acting like something between a capacitor and a storage battery, the technology promises to give electric vehicle owners nothing to complain about: quick recharge of their car while they’re not driving it between stops.


     The promise of thin film materials for creating this hybrid type of battery is nothing short of phenomenal.  This technological advance comes to us courtesy of nanotechnology.  We have heard about this potential for decades now, even though practical applications didn’t really start showing up until about six years ago.  From the first carbon nanotubes and buckyballs, we are now seeing the first swell of the wave of change in electronics.  Even in one of the oldest electrical devices: the battery.



     Other aspects of battery technology are density, brittleness and opacity.  A Stanford University breakthrough allows for a thin, flexible and partially transparent battery.  Another Yi Cui breakthrough, it involves nano-scale spacing, allowing the thread grid to be a mere 35nm thick.  While not transparent, it does allow for 60% transparency.


     Applications could include wrapping the battery around the body of the item it’s powering, or allowing it to be integrated into a belt, clothing, optical gear or plastered along the body of a car door, etc.  The power output is not great, however it’s obvious that combined with other advances in battery tech, this could only lead to some very imaginative uses for new batteries.


Below are a few other battery links you might find of interest:









  Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone…  Solar Power Technology: 



     This is more of a market analysis of a new company called Nanosolar.  While somewhat unexciting in that it doesn’t describe the technology in any detail, it does talk about some staid and dry aspects of any market that should make you sit up and take notice.  Less weight, higher general efficiency, cheaper production costs, lowered shipping costs due to size and weight reductions in the product are all discussed and these are the traditional aspects of developing technology that any company should love to do.  That it is a solar panel company just makes it that much more appealing.


     You really should read this one, because the promise here isn’t amazing new technology, it’s just that improvements in efficiency of design, production, scale and construction of the product promise to make this company one of the first to make solar panels of Photo-Voltaic types as cheap or cheaper to generate power than from coal on a relative cost per watt to produce.  Yes, this could possibly be one of the first Solar Panel manufacturers to make one fossil fuel less effective at power production than a “green” technology for renewable energy.  That’s worth looking through the article all by itself.



     Here is a non-traditional method of generating solar power that promises to be cheap as well as much more efficient at utilizing Mother Sun to generate electricity.  Using small fibers, called Nantennas.  The idea is that these nano-scale antennae could also generate electricity from the infrared spectrum of light.  This means that the devices could utilize much of the non-visible spectrum of light the sun produces, thereby generating more electricity from available light.  The design is originally intended to generate electricity from industrial waste heat, which also outputs most of its energy in the infrared spectrum of light.


     In other words, one might consider this a Non Solar Power panel, because by generating electricity from infrared light, which is basically just heat energy, these units could generate electricity even in total darkness – as long as they are near a heat source of sufficient output.  This is another technological improvement that is about five years out from the date of the article, which was last May.



     And you thought quantum mechanics was just for theoretical physicists and uncrackable computer encryption.  This little breakthrough (pun intended) uses what is called quantum dots.  It also uses a single molecule layer of organic material.  This advance in technology allows for a threefold increase in efficiency of standard processes.  Oddly, through experimentation, it was discovered that as long as the layer was an organic molecule, the process improved markedly, and it didn’t seem to matter which molecules were being used for the layer.


     There is much work yet to be done, as current efficiency of this quantum dot method combined with the organic layer is running at .4%, which is not great.  Hey, it’s breakthroughs like this that lead science in new directions and generate new ideas.  Let’s hope that more comes of this, because the overall process of doing this is actually easier than producing standard PV (Photo-Voltaic) cells and could lead to serious reductions in cost to produce.



     Remember the first link?  It talked about Nanosolar.  Here it is straight from the horse’s mouth.  Now I grant that it’s company direct propaganda, but unlike many news outlets, technology companies are generally in the habit of crowing about specific and provable achievements.  Probably has something to do with that pesky peer-review concept most scientists and engineers fervently adhere to in the quest to improve stuff.


     In any case, they’re claiming a 17.1% increase in aperture efficiency through a printed CIGS process (Cadmium-Indium-Gallium-Selenium) that is a non-vacuum, printed roll-to-roll manufacturing process.  This could, in addition to increased efficiencies of PV cells, lead to radically reduced costs to manufacture.  Non-vacuum indicates that the process doesn’t require being conducted in typical semiconductor manufacturing machinery, which produces almost all processing under extremely low vacuum pressures – which is cost intensive.



     On that cutting edge, another type of solar antenna, modeled after cells in plants, is looking very green and promising.  This particular link is light on details and that’s too bad.  I don’t think most of us want to, or should, get our details from the New Journal of Chemistry.  I’m still looking for better detail at a relative layman’s level of understanding on this particular idea.


     Suffice to say, in a nutshell (or plant cell) the idea is to take even the relatively low light levels deep in the ocean, and convert them to useable electrical power through this process of biomimetic design.  Biomimetics is using biological designs in technology to help produce more efficient products that are also organically composed.  Through the process of biomimetics, it is hoped that man can utilize biological design principles in technology to produce low cost, high efficiency products with natural resources.  Let’s hope this sort of design methodology grows.



     I have to admit; I am not a huge fan of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, because I consider them a little too light on detail.  However, that said, the reason they are called “popular” is probably the same reason we call it “popular” wisdom, or “popular” culture, is that the masses can digest it readily – and that’s a good thing.


     This little article breaks down five of the more promising aspects of solar power technology.  It’s not ground breaking stuff, but it does put it down in plain English and has good pictures that help aid the non-tech reader in grasping the ideas.  In the case of this technology, that’s important to help it gain greater acceptance and understanding.



     Another printed, roll-to-roll process using less exotic materials.  The researchers behind this are at the University of Florida and they are claiming an overall 8% efficiency in their product.  Eight percent doesn’t sound like much, but most PV cells are running in the 3-6% range in general. 


     Most of the productive power-to-cost efficiency of solar cells, compared to coal, comes in the form of increased surface areas and cost to manufacture.  At 8%, the overall power efficiency is better than most PV cells.  With a relatively common and low cost-to-process, combined with the increase in efficiency of those materials, this could lead to some relatively cheap solar power panels.  This could possibly make them, watt for watt, cheaper than coal to produce and use.


Okay, I could go on for hours and hours about this stuff, but I have other things to cover.  Here are some more links with more information and more new ideas in them.  Read, enjoy, wonder.



     A link to many articles relating to solar power.  Interesting stuff.



     Possible new large scale effectiveness in heat use combination.



     Another more analytical site to preview up and coming technology breaks in Solar Power.



     Cheap plastic solar power generation?  Impossible?  Maybe not.



     3D now invades Solar Power.  It’s not just for videos anymore.



     More tech in 3D!



     It’s not 3D if it doesn’t have three points to view.  Yet another 3D article.



     It seems to be coming out of the very walls.  Even the news is reporting it.



     Behind the scenes improvements that don’t really make the front page.



     Wikipedia; no link farm is complete without it.



  The Answer My Friend, Is Blowin’ in the Wind…  Wind Power Generation: 



    Popular Science discussion as to how wind turbines work and are constructed.  Not as good as the next one, I think, but still worth looking at and comparing the two.



     Sometimes you get lucky.  On my first hit, this is a site that provides a literal cornucopia of fan related information.  (Get it?  Fan?  Wind power?  Yeah, baby.)  It touches on and provides links to all sorts of aspects of wind power.  I couldn’t digest it all, because I was on the hunt.  Well worth the first section where it details the general operating principles of how a wind turbine works.  And if you’re a secret (or not so secret) Nikola Tesla fan (hee hee hee) there’s a patented design here too that works off a patent from Tesla in 1913.


     This site even provides a bit of a history of wind power lesson.  Refreshing.



     Your tax dollars at work – and for a good purpose, too – oddly enough.  Now before you go dissing government projects and funding, don’t forget the Internet was once known as DARPAnet.  There are many good things the government (in the all-encompassing sense) does that make sense to fund.  This site is worth investigating to give you a good idea of just what our government agencies are asking about alternative energy and then asking private companies to answer.


     There are new materials for making the blades, new blade designs, more efficient generator designs and other such things.  Wind power is not a steady blowing thing, most times and those issues are important to consider.  Along with new designs, new computer controls and software, along with the above battery technology information, there’s a breath of fresh air in the long-term potential of wind power.  It’s great that we can combine technological innovations that makes each separate series of developments greater than they would be alone.



     This is a new design, putting the electrical generation components for distribution on the outside ring and the blades inside.  Seems obvious (I have a design in a SF RPG that makes magnetic alternators of space stations in order to help power them in similar fashion, so I guess it’s not that new to me…) when you examine it, but it took a while before anyone practically applied it.  Guess what?  It works better than the other way around!  Surprise!


     Honeywell, maker of fans and heaters for the home designed this one.  Again, is that really such a surprise?



     I hate linking to .pdf files for the reason that they take a longer time to load – at least for my aging laptop.  This one was titled interestingly enough to change my mind.  It seems that the study of how a whales flippers are shaped has helped to improve efficiency of the blade design of wind-powered turbines.  Wow, from the ocean to the wind farm.  Here’s another use of biomimetics in this improvement.


     Even better, the guy they consulted with?  A marine biology expert named – and I’m not kidding – Frank Fish.  Irony and poetry at the same time.  It’s a really interesting read, so I strongly recommend it.



     Along with advances in design and biomimetics, comes new ways of running a wind turbine.  Not so exotic, but simply changing the design from horizontal spinning blades to vertical blades following the shaft results in improved performance, less land required to put them down and in a much tighter spacing for the same overall power ratio of operating performance – big plus: fewer bird and bat strikes induced from the smaller aerial “footprint” of the units.





     Both of these links are from Science Daily.  This is a good site to garner all sorts of overall information and I highly recommend you peruse it a bit to decide for yourself if it deserves a place in your “Favorites” section of your browser of choice.  The first article talks about how studying wind stability and turbulence in the wind patterns (you’ve seen this, the wind is blowing trees like crazy a hundred feet away and you are standing in a “calm” pocket where there’s just a breath of a breeze) and how learning to predict and understand this behavior can lead to predictive computer controls that stabilize wind power output.


     The second article is Science Daily’s take on the previously mentioned Vertical Turbines.  They both contain pretty much the same information, though I think Science Daily puts up a bit more information on the subject.  Of course, you’d expect a science and technology site to put out more information on such things than MSNBC.



     And Wired also covers the same thing as the above two on vertical designs.  This is good, people.  It shows that there’s more interest than most people realize and it gives you a good one to one basis for comparison for getting your science and technology news.  You can get the short version or the more in depth version, according to your time constraints and inclinations.



     This one is so damn cool and nuveau that I couldn’t afford to ignore it – and I saved it for last in this section because I want to leave you with an impression of out-of-the-box design as you come away from this.  Not all wind power has to be just a take on an centuries-old design – once again, biomimetics to the rescue in a completely different way.


     Now you hear a lot of noise about how loud a wind farm is.  You get complaints about how ugly they are.  Have you ever wondered what’s more important:  Acid rain or slightly more noise?  How close are you going to live to a coal fired power plant?  Honestly?  How close do you think you’re going to be living to a wind farm?  In some cases, the answer to each could be: right next-door.  I’d be as worried about the electro-magnetic fields from the power lines all over the place in both instances as I would noise or acid rain.


     All that aside, here are some more links you can peruse to find out more about how the industry is moving forward and some things that are being marketed now.  There’s also a link in here that details the potential of wind power here in the US.  (Sorry for you non-US folks, I live here and I’m focused on saving my country – then the world.  No offense intended.)



     CNN Money.  So obviously this is geared to investors and the potential to reap profits.  So yeah, it’s getting some play.



     Okay, I am mad at China, but I don’t let my personal feelings get in the way of seeing information that might make a difference.  I just won’t buy products from China if I can find something else, even if it is more expensive.  At least I know I’m keeping some other third world country employee in his or her sweatshop job.  I sleep better.



     Another .pdf that covers quite a range of what the market is, the technologies being used and their improvements.  This is worth wading into for a more in-depth analysis of the market’s potential, growth prospects and trends.



     Probably could have put this in with the other advances above, but it’s more of a descriptive “out there” set of ideas with some of them getting initial seed funding to study and conduct tests.  Now, don’t get me wrong, that stuff’s important, but I was focusing more on things that are already showing test results and performance improvements.  This qualifies as more, “down the road” potentials, which I dig, but isn’t the focus of this piece.



     This one is interesting as it’s all about learning to reduce bat and bird strikes in a rather unconventional manner.  It’s more of a “tree hugger” oriented method and I applaud that, however, it seems like there could be a better use of time and funds overall than this.  I include it, because I can still see that, with many projects already up and running, this might be a way to help those older wind farms operate at better efficiencies and still reduce bird and bat strike deaths by their blades.



  Rollin,’ Rollin,’ Rollin’ on the River!  Water Power Technology: 


     Let’s not forget that hydroelectric power was the powerhouse before oil.  Sure, dams can be just as destructive in their own ways as coal plants, nuclear power, burning oil – just in different ways.  That said, it is probably the most easily mitigated out of all of them (short of a dam bursting – I just try to imagine the Hoover Dam cracking open and then giving way – oh my!) on the whole in the longer term.


    There are plenty of other ways to develop power from water and it’s not just by building some damn dam.  I think of the ancient Roman Aqueduct system.  Some of it is still being used, over a thousand years later.  Impressive.  There’s one image; I recall seeing an aqueduct power a series of grain mills, all in a series, one right below the other, developing power from the same water to turn something like eight mills.  And where did the water end up after doing all that hard work?  It ended up in a giant community cistern to provide drinking water for the public.  Now that’s ingenuity and conservation all rolled into one.


     We visit wave power, tidal power, river flow and new methods to develop underwater turbines and all sorts of other things.  This is the place where most of the new ideas are just that, ideas.  The technology to take advantage of the ocean and rivers to develop energy is nothing new.  But how do you power a city with wave action?  Can you light your house from your fishpond?  Is there a way to develop these power sources that don’t get overgrown with barnacles, corals and algae, reducing their performance?  Is there a way to use algae, corals and barnacles to help generate power?


     Read on and see what some of the ideas are in regard to using our most abundant resource beyond air and sun – the water – to power our electrical needs for the future.



     This is a brief explanation of the three primary technological avenues of wave power generation in the ocean.  It is really brief and should not be construed as the definitive word on any of this.  For a synopsis, however, it should suffice to grant you an opening understanding of what wave technology is taking advantage of in the oceans of the world.





     This is Alternative Energy.  Don’t let that AE fool you, this is not the site for A&E (Arts and Entertainment) Channel.  The page linked provides an overview of what wave and ocean power is all about.  It’s pretty simply put and allows one to gain a quick perspective on what’s going on.


     You might recognize this style from an earlier presentation on wind energy – and you’d be right.  I didn’t think it would be cool to send you one link for the home page and make you search out all the little details yourself.  While I expect you to educate yourself, it’s not laziness on my part.  I expect you to find out for yourself, because I don’t want you to simply take my word for it.  That’s important to me.  It should be to you as well.


     This site is a great one – in my opinion – if you’re at all interested in alternative sources of power generation.  There’s a list of latest news items in each category which is well worth the time to peruse for those looking for hope in this world.  Hope to increase power, reduce pollution, to find clean sources of energy and innovative ways to explore wind, sun, water, geothermal and biomass as sources of power generation.


     The second link provides a decent explanation of the general principle of using wave power to generate electricity and you don’t even have to read – it’s a play list of videos that talk all about it.  Worth it.



     The ubiquitous wiki site link.  Need I say more?



     This is a DOE site that provides all sorts of interesting bits of statistical information on waterpower of all sorts of stripes in the world.  It’s got all sorts of ways to review the data.  I didn’t spend too much time on it, because this was not my focus.  I’m hoping to present to you a wide array of different clean energy and power sources that are making headway.  It’s a message of hope, after all.  This site, though, will help you to understand what’s going on, how it’s being done, by whom and where in the world it’s taking place.  It’s very useful to gain a greater idea of what countries are making the most progress in which areas.



     Here’s another government site.  I included it, but honestly didn’t research it past the linked page.  There’s a list of “news” items or articles at the bottom.  It’s a government site, but the face reads more like a corporate News page.  Not sure of its utility, but again, you should check a wide array of sources in order to form an opinion based on as much information as possible.  The links looked like they could provide a series of viewpoints and interesting concepts.



     Another government site, but one I’d say has a much higher academic bar placed on it.  We are talking about Oak Ridge National Laboratories, one of the first nuclear enrichment sites in America.  These boys cornered the market on horn-rimmed glasses and pocket slide rules in their day.  It’s clear they’ve been spending some of their time exploring ways to not have to increase nuclear power development in the nation.  Good on them.


     The opening page is just filler to get you all excited about alternative power.  There are links aplenty and you should explore them.  I found them to be much more readable than you might expect from a bunch of serious eggheads.  I hope you do, too.



     Okay, I found another reason why I don’t really care for Popular Science or Popular Mechanics websites.  They’re as bad as the magazines with advertisement inserts that get in the way of actually reading the material.  The price of commercialism, I suppose.


     Even so, the explanations come with plenty of pictures and the words aren’t too techie, so most people can follow along without having to resort to a dictionary.  I think that’s a good thing, even if I find the explanations personally a little light on meat and potato.



     Okay, I admit it, as “into” this sort of stuff as I am, this one surprised me.  I can’t tell you how strange and definitely out-of-the-box this one is, but from the article, I found myself getting a bit excited at the prospect of this particular idea.


     This is a two-for-one deal of wave motion energy and photovoltaic energy from solar cells placed on the buoys.  They call it a spider web, but I would offer that they call it a jellyfish colony.  Keep those water references intact!  Like jellyfish, they float on the surface, but there’s a lot going on beneath with all those tentacles.  In this case the tentacles are the interlaced cables keeping the unit together and to provide the motion interface between the floats and the energy capture devices.



     Now talk about leveraging available assets!  This is so simple and uses off-the-shelf concepts that I don’t know why it’s not already being done.  Could be we need better batteries?  See the top of this article.  Maybe there’s an opportunity here to utilize that “Giant” grid sized storage battery concept for this as well?  Exciting!


     Okay, now I know this has been a long series of links and no ripping or gripping narrative to go along with it.  So let me provide you with another series of links and I’ll close with what I hope are some final words and a message of hope that proves uplifting.  Meanwhile, here are some more links relating to wave and tidal power:



     A wave farm?  Are you serious?  Yes.  Very.



     This has pictures of the Pelamis system referred to above.  Also more information in general.



     Also have some stuff on the Pelamis system being installed out in Portuguese waters.  At the bottom.  Not the ocean, the site, silly!



     Information on the Power Buoy system.  Still preparing to deploy, but apparently while getting dissed by Venture Capital and Investment companies, they seem to be making headway, even against the negative tide of profit motive sentiments.



     Proof of the fallacy of the phrase: “If it was such a good idea, then why don’t we see it around already?”  I always hated hearing that, as if saying it made the idea you were expressing less worthy of consideration.  This proves that there’s a good reason to scoff at the scoffer.



     This is virtually a compendium of “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Wave Energy.”  It’s mind bogglingly large.  Take it in small doses.  You’ll drown in all this information if you’re not careful.


Following are four company links to wave power developers.






     There are plenty of others out there and you can find their names in the other links provided.



  I Have a Dream…  A World That Doesn’t Want for Power. 


     Oil is already past that marker known as Peak Oil by most experts’ estimates.  This is the point where output can no longer increase.  In fact, it’s decreasing and it has also passed the point where supply can easily meet demand, which is steadily increasing.  At least, that’s the message you’ll get if you do any research at all into the amount of oil we seem to be producing, the estimate of proven reserves, the additional estimate of unproven (and as yet untapped) reserves, and the amount of oil that is being demanded in the world and will apparently continue to be.


     Right now, current thinking is that when the oil starts really drying up, the world economy will not only collapse, it will take Western Civilization right along with it.  The world doesn’t have sufficient alternative sources of power to supply the gap.  So it’s a pronouncement of doom, Doom, DOOM!  Dirty Roughnecks walking around with signs saying, “The End is Here!”


     It’s going to be bad, they say.  More CEOs and Investment bankers jumping out the windows than the Crash of Twenty Nine.  No, it’s not a song from the Weather Girls, but they say it’s going to be “Rainin’ Men!”  No umbrella will hold them back.  Watch where you walk when the oil runs out!  You’ll be slipping on the blood in the streets instead.


     We’ll all get to witness the end of the world as we know it.  No celebration, communism, democracy, socialism, liberals, conservatives, the rich and the poor, we’re all doomed, Doomed, DOOMED!  Or so they say.  I don’t think so.  I think history is on my side in this opinion.


     Look: Mankind has watched civilizations rise and fall, again and again.  It’s never been about resource depletion.  Then again, we have stretched our world to a point where this may be a historical first in written history.  It’s always been about the collapse of social cohesion, the breakdown of law over lust (and I mean that in a pedagogical sense of base desires ruling over reason) and the destruction of any sense of social order beyond chaos and anarchy.


     I don’t think oil, even if it does run out, is going to make that happen.  I’m not saying it won’t be rough, but the end of Civilization?  I don’t think so.


     We are hard at work coming up with alternate sources of energy and we really are just on the cusp of some major breakthroughs in materials sciences, designs and in understanding how some really cool stuff works that could make us more energy independent.  There’s a lot more out there we can do.  In this article, I simply focused on wind, water and the sun, along with better ways to store and convert energy to power the world.


     We, as a species, thrive when our survival is at risk.  We tend to have a few who always rise to the occasion and come up with novel ways to do things.  In the past, that has been spread equally amongst the peaceful pursuits and the arts of war.  Our ability to communicate, transport, kill, defend, purify water, store food, build things quickly, generate power, you name it – all have their place in history and sometimes it was simply the difference of survive or die.  Other times, it was novel ideas and approaches to doing things that were clearly superior to the way we did things before.


     These things are novel and doable methods to wean us off oil as a power source.  It must be remembered that even were we to find a way to no longer need to burn oil to power our economies, we’d still need oil for some time to come.  Oil makes fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and plastics of all sorts.  It lubricates all of our moving parts in the mechanical world.  While I don’t advocate wholesale use of the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer aspects of oil, you have to admit, those things have made food production increase – even if we haven’t fully appreciated the concurrent damage it has also done – it’s made a difference in the way we carry out agriculture.  There’s a value in that which is hard to fully appreciate unless you really look at it.


     You have to give oil it’s due.  It literally changed the world.  It’s time is coming to a close and we need to respect what it’s done, both the bad and the good.  At the same time, we need to ramp up our production and research into alternate power and storage of energy sources before the oil gets too hard to get out of the ground without fracking, shale oil extraction or tar sands extraction processes, which are very bad for the environment and that means very bad for us as a race.


     I have provided you with information that proves we are searching for better, cleaner ways to power our world and store that energy.  Now, we as a race, as a people, as a nation and as individuals must realize that the time to act is now.  I will reference Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall’s work also here on Open Salon.  We must Flee Vesuvius before it erupts.  This is in reference to Dr. Bramhall’s essays and reviews on the book, “Fleeing Vesuvius,” the New Zealand version.  You can read them here:








     The point is that Vesuvius, in all it’s history of activity, has never just suddenly erupted without warning.  The ground rumbles, smoke begins to spew from the caldera and earthquake activity picks up before each eruption.  Yet, through inattentiveness, complacency, or faith that the Gods couldn’t possibly wish them ill, people just stayed until the lava and sulfuric dioxide clouds of poisonous gas, combined with ash and lava bombs rained down on them.  And that is truly, doom, Doom, DOOM!  Such ignorance is no longer something we can afford.


     In today’s analogy, we hear the rumbling.  We feel the seismic tremors.  We have yet to see the steam and smoke coming from the mouth of the volcano that is oil’s depletion, but for goodness sake, we know its coming, right?  So now it is time to start making plans and taking action to avoid the eruption of chaos that is bound to ensue if we are not ready with an alternative in place.


     As usual, I am not asking you to take my word for it.  I want you to doubt me.  I want you to wonder, though, am I wrong, am I right?  I want you to look up the information for yourself and stop listening to all the naysayers on the TV, the radio, in books and on the net that keep telling you, “We’re okay, nothing’s wrong here, move along, go on about your business.”  I want you to doubt them as much as I want you to doubt me.


     I say that, because the internet is truly one of the greatest sources of information available to you for researching and finding out.  Sure, you can find those Conspiracy Theory sites that talk all about the Bilderburg Group, the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Skull and Bones, etc, but you can also find plenty of “Official” media sources that tell you nothing’s wrong.  In between both of those is a lot of academia, independent studies, financial planners, economists of note and merit, sociologists, historians (not Newt, a little too biased for this particular subject) and people who’s job it is to study and verify things out there.


     If you are diligent, you will find out, like I did, that we’re moving in a direction that points to oil running out.  Climate change is happening.  The ice is melting.  The weather is changing.  Wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a few and the masses are worse off than before.  But it’s not all doom, Doom, DOOM!


     There’s also plenty of information out there that tells us we’re making progress in finding ways to divest ourselves of oil as the source of fuel to power the world economy.  Most of the greatest innovations in this race are happening right here in the USA.  Most of the production, however, is taking place in other parts of the world.


     We need to become a manufacturing and production nation once again.  We cannot allow our energy security to be dependant upon us coming up with the ideas – then farming out our ideas to cheaper nations to make what we need.  I am not interested in becoming a beggar, trapped in a nation of beggars, because we don’t make what we need to be self-supporting.


     The ability to produce solar, wind and water power and the storage technologies of these new batteries provides the USA with opportunities galore.  If we develop this technology and we own the production and manufacturing of it, then we are free and clear of foreign oil – and foreign dependence on being supplied with the materials and products to produce this energy .  We make it here and we don’t ever have to worry if another nation will hold over our heads the power they have that we don’t to make us their pawns. 


     We make it here, we manufacture it here and people here will have jobs.  We will have long term jobs that pay more than subsistence pay.  That money they earn will be spent on a better quality of life here, on things made here.  Our balance of trade, which is currently a deficit, will swing to a profitable home economy.


     They’re ideas developed here.  We should make them here.  Isn’t that what we call pride in effort?  I think we can do it and I think it will change our country to a more industrious and ethical one, where people are given fair wages for honest effort for products made here that could be the best in the world.  The whole while, we will be making products that ensure our own power needs are met without foreign interference, without being dependent on others to supply us – and we won’t have to take resources from others in the process.


     Instead of telling me it won’t work, it can’t happen, I’d like you to think of it in a more hopeful way:  What would our country be like if we could provide long term, good paying jobs, free ourselves of oil dependence, increase our economic power at all levels and invest in ourselves?  What would that America be like?  Isn’t that something to hope for?  Isn’t that something worth fighting the status quo for?


     I think so.  I hope you do, too.  This is a message of hope, after all.


Occupy Your Mind.

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There is so much in this post, my friend, I have to read again and look up some of those links. I'm amazed at how thoroughly you must have researched. Thanks. Just the headings alone, give me a smile. ♥
Wow - you did SO much research here - thank you. It's a post to bookmark and come back to over and over again. I don't think Western Civilization as we know it will end once the oil drys up. The trick is going to be getting people to realize that it actually WILL DRY UP someday so that they get off their butts and figure out ways to make barrels of money off of some of these other things you list here. Before it totally runs out, preferably!
Thanks, FusunA! Yeah, I do a lot more research than I let on. As these technologies are of extremely great interest to me, I don't mind the -- let's see, I think this particular round was something closer to twelve hours -- effort expended. I get more out of this in particular, because I plan to make a grid-free green energy home at some point and solar, wind, water power generation will be part of that effort.

I also hear time and again how the only way we'll 'pull ourselves out of this mess' in the world is for the industrialized world to "step down" their quality of life and standards of living to be more on a par with the third world's energy levels and we'll all just have to be a bit more 'earthy' with lowered expectations. The alternative to most of this is to continue to rape and pillage the world for the luxurious lifestyle for a few at the top of the pile -- until the lights go out, maybe permanently.

I think we're smart enough to have Option C: To find new ways to generate power, store energy, use it more efficiently, do it without screwing up the environment any more than we absolutely must, and provide everyone who can use it responsibly, a better quality of life and a higher standard of living.

These technologies provide us that possibility. We may be able to achieve something using more, More, MORE nuclear power plants, or by extracting oil from shale and tar sands, but at what incredible cost?

It's estimated that the amount of energy solar radiation bathes the planet in every 90 minutes, is enough to provide the world's electrical energy needs if we could convert it. 90 minutes -- supply the world's daily energy. That's about ten and a half hours of bonus storage -- every day!

The amount of wind blowing across the planet is estimated to be able to supply the world's electrical requirements each day within four to six hours if properly harnessed.

Water? It's even better. The amount of kinetic energy in wave action alone along the shores could provide the world a month's supply of electrical energy in thirty minutes.

Do we have the ability to harness it at those rates? No, but if we could even achieve a thousandth of the ability, we'd be able to power the world, every day, it's energy needs for all 7 billion of us.

I think that's worth exploring.
Fascinating compendium Thanks! r.
It's great that the price of wind and solar are coming down. Hopefully people won't forget that they both have an extremely low EROI (Energy Return On Investment). Thus most of us will have to cut back our energy use substantially to get buy without fossil fuels. See http://fleeingvesuvius.org/2011/06/22/future-energy-availability-the-importance-of-net-energy/
What a great service you have done. To present all of the cutting edge material on alternatives. I will be back to read more and follow more of your links. I just had some eye surgery so I could not read as much as I wanted to today. I think I will share it on my facebook page so I can find it quickly and impress my friends with my discovery of this brilliant post.
rated with love
This represents an enormous amount of work. Thanks for pulling all of this together on a subject we should all be paying much more attention to.
What a great resource full of hope. I'm sharing it on Facebook. Thanks!!
Thanks all! Dr. Bramhall, with respect, I have to maintain a difference of opinion on the current view, which you seem to share that we will have to cut back on our energy use.

In "Fleeing Vesuvius" and in your review of it, it seems that no-one is accounting for advances being made right now, today, tomorrow and next year. If current estimates of oil reserves and useage, as well as increases in demand are remotely accurate, then I'd say we have at least another thirty years of work ahead before we really have to worry.

Nanotechnology, biomimetics and new methods of creating alternative energy are really starting to grab hold. I could shake my head in regret at the forty previous years of lost time from just after the 1973 Oil Embargo by the OPEC cartel. Instead, I prefer to look at what's happened in the last ten years with carbon nanotubes, room temperature superconductance (which has been going on still and while they're not actually "room temperature" yet, they are at the point where liquid helium and nitrogen are showing real strides in superconductance) and the combining of those with monomole thin films, organic composites, OLEDs and CIGS LEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes and Cadmium Indium Gallium Selenium LEDs) as well as more traditional LEDs made with Indium Phospates and Arsenic as dopants.

We have lighting systems that are now capable of outshining, across the spectrum of light, the best incandescent technology available and on a per-watt cost basis are actually performing better than High Pressure Sodium and Halogen lights for growing. Some are even beating flourescents in this arena.

The cost and energy savings, considering if we could convert an entire nation, are relatively enormous. In addition to this, we are making things that are battery powered and portable, like laptops, iPads, MP3 players, digital cameras, etc, last longer on the same charge, while, as you see from the first section on battery tech, great strides are literally around the corner from retail that stand to reduce our waste, increase the performance and longevity of batteries used for all sorts of applications.

I don't think the answer is to "Scale back our expectations." I think this mentality is the mentality of the hopelessness and futility that the current Either/Or philosophy our society engages in to a very high degree. It happens so often that we, as a nation, as a world wide society tend to buy into it without seriously or critically considering that there might be another, more viable way to continue to improve our technical ability in power generation, power storage and efficient usage of same.

I believe we can. I believe we must. I believe we will.

I take your review of "Fleeing Vesuvius" and the book itself for whast I percieve it to be: A Stern Warning to Wake the Fuck UP!

In this wake up call, it's time for us to get to work. Yes, we must prepare for the end of oil as our power source of choice. Yes, we must start treating our planet, people, and energy as more valued and more important than they have been in the past. Yes, we must start preparing for a more simplified, though not necessarily simple lifestyle. One that, while not engorging our energy desires, still allows us the modern conveniences and technological advances that provide humanity with the means to be more productive, more efficient and more creative in solving our world wide woes.

For this reason, I consider "Fleeing Vesuvius" an important, perhaps required read for the Reniassance Being of the 21st Century. It's not: Either we ruin the world and destroy civilized society to a medieval level, or we all go to a third world level of technological blessed poverty voluntarily. Not to me, anyway.

While I am relatively confident we will find ways to improve our overall lot, I am just as certain these advances, workarounds, fixes and improvements will reveal to us more challenges, more issues and more unintended consequences. I worry about these things and if I can reach or teach anyone in the loop of ideas, invention, production and processing for saving our collective asses anything, it would be to consider the potential ramifications of the solutions we seek to implement and be on the lookout for ones that pose the least overall danger (as well as that can be known.)

Life, survival and improving the quality of our lot is always going to be a gamble. We could go back to an agrarian society and dump all this technology, thus guranteeing everyone has work to do, our food is relatively clean and safe to eat and the materials we all use are biodegradeable, recyclable and made from organic materials. We could do that. It might even work for a while.

But people just don't stop thinking about what could be. My experience is that there are a lot of people who simply go along with the flow. They don't think creatively, they don't even really problem solve if they don't have to. But there's a percentage out there that will never stop being creative, never stop looking to find answers to problems and solving them, never stop looking to find new ways to do things and make new ideas come to life.

History will back me up on this one. We just can't do the backwards tracking thing unless forced to by calamity of such incredible proportions that going backwards would be less a concern than the ultimate survival of the species as a whole.

The moment, though, that we can start feeding ourselves more than we can eat and can then trade and export to others for things we don't have -- It's just going to start all over again.

For the same reason I am not going to shake my head at the last forty years of lost advancement potential, I am just as unwilling to accept that going forward means moving backwards. We're smart, naked apes. We alone on the planet have learned to bend our environment to our will, instead of simply accepting what nature throws our way, deciding nothing can be done to change things.

Our ability to do this, change things, is part of the nature of Nature. I embrace our intelligence and believe, properly motivated, rationally approached and logically moderated, mankind can do damn near anything.

Batteries, Wind, Water, Sun, Biomass, hell, even the potential for true Zero Point Energy or Fusion (there's something that's been "just around the corner" for the last 60 years) or possibly something we haven't even realized yet is going to be something we invest our time and energy into.

With each improvement in efficiency, reduced complexity of parts, increased power controls, better implementation of our resources (such as the Aerotopolis concept as mentioned in "Fleeing Vesuvius and elsewhere [see my post on Vertical Farming and check out the links list/bibliography]) including better use of our human power, both physically and mentally, will lead us to a potential for a literal Golden Age where we control our population levels and our resources, power useage, habitations, agricultural ability all achieve a level of if not balance, at least stability that provides for us all the possibility to live a live without lack for food, medicine, intellectual and physical stimulation and improvement.

Through these and other advances being made today, right now, if we, the common people can see them, understand their potential and realize that it is in our collective best interests to not only desire them, but to demand them, we will have them.

I would happily spend half my life from here on out, hiking, living off the land, conserving nature and exploring the world to understand it better -- but I'm not going without a camera, a communications device of some sort, a nice sleeping bag, a coffee pot (I like Old School percolators all the way around) and some means to give my self emergency first aid and something to take notes with.

I can blend the high tech with the natural lifestyle without contradiction and I believe the rest of the world can, too. I don't think it requires of us to be forced to lower our expectations of what a good and technologically rich life is or can be.

All that said, we do, however, need to reassess and re-evaluate our place in this world, our methods of dealing with our environment as well as each other, and come to terms with those things that cause us more harm than good -- then change them.

And in the end, that's what this is really all about -- changing the world by changing ourselves through honest and critical self-examination of not just ourselves, but our whole damn society in this world. And making sure that the changes we make cause less trouble than our old ways. Then being able to see where we are still making mistakes of judgment and find solutions for those as well.

Change for the sake of change alone is not progress. We must come to grips with our own desire to make things new and come to the honest ability to recognize when some changes really aren't such great ideas and not allow ourselves to be duped into doing something because our interest level or knowledge of what's being proposed isn't up to the task of seeing if we're being tricked -- or if we're just being too hasty.

In closing, I believe we are due a real change of attitude and certainly our technology requires a strong rethinking on the lines of our continued survival and not be some profit based technological bread and circuses to keep the masses amused and entertained while our world burns down around us.

If this message appeals to any out there, then consider yourself automatically obligated to start thinking of how we can make a better world. The masses aren't going to simply jump on the new bandwagon -- they must be led there. If we do nothing more than we have so far in the last forty years, Dr. Bramhall's view of what will happen will be the most likely ending scenario -- and I'd bet on the more pessimistic one, at that -- at least at first.

I'd prefer those of us with the desire to see things get better before they fall apart start shouting and encouraging a more positive and solution oriented approach to our situation.

As always, thanks to all for reading and commenting.

Occupy Your Mind
This is a Keeper for a forty hour week of research. You don't mess around.
You BIO makes me sense you are good and strange peculiar. Peculiar and Stranger is gifted.
I was called a Stranger.
A beautiful neighbor said"`

"Howdy Stranger."
She is in her twenties.
We are talking friends.
She sees me in my P.U.
She stops and we speak.
I sit under a willow tree.
She's mature beyond age.
We people no need robots.
Gizmos no pink sunflowers.
Gadgets never say`"Golly!
What a beautiful morning!
Robots never smile or cry!
W. S. writes ref:., Peculiar.
We're to be most Peculiar.
Strangers are so Peculiar.
It's joy to be so Peculiar.
Asimoy's fears we amok.
Gizmos are not sentient.
Humans are so majestic.
I love body's physiology.
Some (not you folk creep.
I've wonderful neighbors.
Thanks for this research.
People are amazing to me.
No kiss any red lip robot.
Thanks, Art!

It is said that for anything to be art, it must have intent.

Art is Art
For Art's Sake
Art is in P.U.
Composing life
Living the dream
Not singing the song
No Gizmo's sing
Only people have the chords
Octaves, range
No gizmos create
No intent in gizmos
Only Art.
Art has intent.

'Tis but a poor imitation, but in my defense, I am out of money.
My imitation, though, is sincere.

Thanks again!
Thank you for this masterful, thorough essay. I have forwarded it to my husband who is hoping we can solar in the near future. I always thought it was too expensive, but according to your research, there are more affordable options. Very hopeful. Thanks again.
Thanks for all this hopeful information!
Ladies, it is my express pleasure to have provided this stuff to all. As old Angus MacTavish used to say:

Ah cannae change yer mind, laddie, but Ah kin gee yeh all yeh need to change it yer self. Now get me that hammer and be quick aboot it!

Thanks for reading and commenting as always!
I will come back to finish this excellent article that should be an EP and on the Cover, but obviously Emily has her head in another place right now. Excellent work my friend!
Thanks scanner and Kate! I would love another EP and cover, but I don't care if this is the one. I think we have so many things going on in the world right now that it's easy to get focused on a single issue.

That said, I wouldn't say no to an EP on this one, either.

Stay tuned. I am focusing on the optimistic and upbeat things that have the potential to make this world a better place. I'm certainly not burying my head in the sand and ignoring the things that make the world a not so cool place in which to live. We require the ability to see what's going wrong, to be certain. More importantly, what's wrong must be balanced and weighed against how we can make things better, improve our situation and create a lasting, hopeful society that places a greater emphasis on truth, improvement and the betterment of all.

This is what truly drives me to speak on these things.