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(1/31/10)  Comments are Welcome

Introduction               Questions for Curious Minds

There has never been a more exciting time for science: It is the new Age of Invention, where everything old is new again; where we now value energy, look at what we have done before and ask if there is a better way.


Solar - What different types of solar energy strategies exist?  What is the difference between solar electric and solar thermal?  How good are these at collecting energy?  What is a PV cell?  How is it different from a computer chip?  How is it the same? 

Wind - How many wind turbine designs are there?  What are the advantages of one compared WindFarm_Chinato another?  Are some better in low winds, or high winds, or variable winds?  Where is wind energy a resource?  How are today's wind turbines different from the old windmills in Holland, or the water-pumping windmills used in the Midwest and Prarie states? 

Nuclear - Is nuclear energy really a renewable or sustainable energy source?  What resources are needed for nuclear power, and what byproducts are produced?  How big does a nuclear power plant need to be to be efficient? 

Hydro - How does a dam work?  What is the difference Small Dam in Europein efficiency between a large dam and a small dam?  What is the difference in terms of the environmental impact?  What different designs are there?  Is there a difference between a dam that does mechanical work, and one that creates electricity?  How much hydropower exists? 

U of Illinois, Miscanthus Crop

Biomass/Other Fuels/Fuel Cells - Compare different forms of fuel: What is their energy content per mole?  What is their energy content per volume?  What steps are required to make these fuels?  How cleanly do they burn?  How much land does it take for different types of crops to provide as much energy as a barrel of oil? 




In Sources - Compare the efficiency of different CoalPlantinIllinois energy sources What is their efficiency when running?  What percent of the time do they run?  When do they operate at maximum efficiency?  Does the performance or production of byproducts change at different efficiency levels?

In Transmission and Conversion - Compare the efficiency of utility-scale versus distributed energy: Where is the energy lost? TransmissionStationWhat is the difference between AC and DC?  What components lie between energy capture, e.g. in hydropower, and transmission?  What about other conventional or renewable energy sources?  What is the difference between peak load and average load?  What strategies can be used to reduce peak load? 

In Electrical Appliances - Compare the efficiency of different appliances in your home, school, or at a Converter for Laptopbusiness:  One way to do this is to measure heat, since heat is simply disorganized energy. Why does your laptop need a converter?  What other things need converters and why?  How efficient are they? 

In Buildings - How do you measure a home's efficiency?  What are the biggest causes of heat loss/gainDiagram of Energy Flow in a House?  Are replacement windows a good strategy?  How do energy analysts gather data? What about lighting?  What are efficient methods of creating or storing heat? 


In Transportation - Where is energy lost in a car or Logo for AltWheelstruck?  How much does it depend on driving habits?  What is the difference between a diesel and regular gasoline engine? 

    This is only the beginning. . . So many possibilities for new question and new ideas. . . Have Fun!
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