The Green Guy Blog

This blog is dedicated to clean energy, the discussion of environmental concerns and all things to do with reducing your carbon footprint on the Earth.

I firmly believe that saving the environment is critically important to our survival here. At the moment we are definitely abusing the planet and draining natural resources without a concern for far enough in the future. We are dependent upon resources which are going to run out relatively soon and as a result we are putting all of our eggs in one basket.

I am hopeful that together we can see that this is not a sustainable way to live and that, also together, we can work towards developing and living in a way that is in the best interests of the planet and will work well for all of us.

In this blog I am aiming to write about topics that are important to me and that I believe should be seriously considered in order for us all to live in a way which is more in keeping with the sustainability of the environment. Sometimes I will discuss topics such as home heating, while at others I will talk about the specifics of convection heating systems.

Should Energy Conservation be Taught in Schools and What Should it Teach?

Energy conservation needs to become something every human being practices. Reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency help improve the quality of our environment. Not only that, people who practice good energy conservation techniques will save money by limiting their use of energy resources. These techniques need to be taught in school in order to pass down the importance of preserving the earth’s resources to our children, and our children’s children. The reason for this is that just like any healthy skill or habit, it needs to be taught and impressed on children at a young age. This allows young children to learn and develop good practices of energy conservation and increase their knowledge of it as they grow.

Experts agree that the younger you start developing a child’s habits the more likely they are to retain those habits for the rest of their lives. Learning and developing fundamental energy conservation strategies, should be taught to children as young as 4 and 5 years old so those habits mature with age and never leave.

Now you don’t want to inundate young minds with depressing environmental realities. Teachers and schools need to make sure that what they are teaching children is age-appropriate. For example, you don’t want to teach a young child that they need to conserve water when brushing their teeth or taking a bath because if they don’t they won’t have any water to drink in the future and will die because there is a very limited supply of fresh water in the world. Not only is this way too complicated for a child to mentally process, it can and should be taught without going into all the specifics of why saving water is important. There are many books and websites that offer great energy conservation teaching techniques that can be effective without getting into all the depressing details surrounding them. Parents and teachers need to start by broaching these topics and techniques slowly, and then get into the more mature subjects when the child is at an age where they will be better understood. Simply teaching children that developing and practicing these eco-friendly techniques is good for the Earth will be explanation enough for them to want to help.

Schools are perhaps the best environment to teach kids about energy conservation. They have the resources and teachers necessary to make learning about it a cooperative group effort while still making it fun. Teachers can also impart this knowledge by setting a good example by modeling proactive energy saving habits, such as turning off the lights when they are not being used and unplugging unused technology. Planting gardens and tress, as well as, learning about endangered species by going to the zoo are other great activities that will make a positive impression on young minds.

Here are some of the specific things that should be taught to children in school about energy conservation.

  1. The Basics of Energy
  • Children need to learn about what energy is, where it comes from, and why it is important.
  • They need to be taught that energy is the ability to do work and that it can come from heat, light, motion, electricity, etc.
  • That energy is needed to do pretty much anything, from walking to school, to driving to grandma’s house. In order to for your body to be able to get up and walk requires you to eat food and drink liquids. This in turn, provides the body with the energy needed to perform any task. The same goes for the car. It needs to be filled with gasoline to power the engine to make the wheels move.
  1. Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy
  • Knowledge that the various sources of energy can either be renewable or nonrenewable is important for students to learn in regard to energy conservation. They need to understand that some resources are only available in a limited amount and cannot be easily recreated, while others can be easily replenished.
  • Children will also need to understand that energy resources can be manufactured into heat and electricity by a variety of different processes.
  • Children should be taught to identify renewable resources such as, solar energy from the sun, wind energy, geothermal energy produced by the heat from inside the earth, biological resources like trees, corn, and other plants and lastly hydroelectric power from moving water.
  • Nonrenewable energy should be focused on as well. Teachers should explain that this is where most of the energy powering our world comes from.
  • That fossil fuels are the most widely used, nonrenewable resources, and they include, (oil, natural gas, and coal).
  • Need to know that they are named fossil fuels because of how they are formed, over millions and millions of years of pressure and heat from the earth’s core turning the remains of dead plants and other living creatures into oil, gas, and coal
  • Also, learn that other nonrenewable energy sources exist, such as nuclear energy.
  1. Environmental Effects
  • Understand the ways various energy sources impact the environment, the impact of land and water usage, pollution caused by emissions, and the different types of waste products.
  • Students need to learn what greenhouse gasses are, how they relate to fossil fuels and their effects on the environment.
  • How the ways in which we use energy to heat and light our homes, manufacture products, and travel use energy from resources, and effect the environment.
  1. Ways to Conserve
  • Learn about ways in which our energy use can be lessened by making responsible choices.
  • Understand the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency. We can find many ways to use less energy by conservation, but also find more efficient ways to use that energy.
  • How to develop habits and behaviors which result in less energy use, turning lights and appliances off when not in use, using energy efficient light bulbs, windows, cars, etc.
  • Learn about recyclable materials and the importance of recycling and how it helps conserve energy.

Is Nuclear Power Safe & How Does it Work?

The issue of safety concerning nuclear power cannot be discussed without first mentioning the three major nuclear disasters that have occurred since the invention of nuclear energy. These being the partial melt-down of a nuclear reactor on Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania in 1979, the 1989 explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, and most recently the 2011 tsunami in Japan that led to the meltdown of three of the six nuclear reactors in Fukishima, Japan. All have instilled fear into the minds of people living near, and working at nuclear power plants, as well as, those skeptical of the stability of these power plants. Proponents for nuclear power say that its benefits greatly outweigh its harms, mainly because nuclear power is much cleaner than the burning of fossil fuels, (nuclear power plants produce no harmful greenhouse gasses) and just a small amount of nuclear fuel, can produce exponentially more energy than the massive amounts of coal or gas needed to do produce the same.

Of course, there is a major down side to these benefits, which comes in the form of sometimes deadly, but always incredibly harmful radioactive waste left over from nuclear fission. Unpredictable natural disasters, like the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukishima reactors to leak are also threats that could trigger a nuclear disaster. When exposed to this waste people can die from cancer caused by radiation, babies can develop life altering birth defects, plants and animals can become mutated, and environments uninhabitable. The issue of how to get rid of the radioactive waste is another concern that has yet to be solved. The only solution experts have decided is plausible is to simply store it in concrete or steel containers in underground warehouses.Most countries though, based on their continued use of nuclear power believe its advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

The safety precautions nuclear facilities have implemented to guard against nuclear disasters have provided workers and surrounding communities with a sense of comfort. There are numerous precautions and procedures that protect against potential disasters. To prevent the escape of deadly radiation from uranium rods they are housed in a very thick layer of concrete and the reactors themselves are surrounded by massive steel walls. Also, these steel walls are protected by another, outer concrete building. The cooling rods are hooked up to an automated system, which in the event of a disaster will automatically shut the reactor down to avoid a melt-down. The fact that there have only been three major nuclear disasters and considering there are over 400 nuclear power plants in the world, most experts would agree that they are a safe and necessary means of generating power for the world. Here’s how it works.

  1. Nuclear Fuel

The primary ingredient needed to generate nuclear power is the element uranium, more specifically the isotope,uranium-235, which is found naturally in the Earth’s crust. Uranium is an extremely heavy metal which makes it possible for it to be used as source of profuse concentrated energy.Uranium-235 is also fissile, meaning that under the right conditions its atoms can be split which yields a lot of energy. The manufactured pellets of enriched uranium used in nuclear power plants are about 96- 97% uranium-238 and about 3-4% uranium-235. The ½ cm wide pellets are then stacked on top of each other into the fuel rods of the reactor which are about 3 and ½ meters long. About 200 of these rods are bundled together, and the reactor typically has about 200 to 300 of these bundles which are immersed in coolant surrounded by steel casing.

  1. The Reactor

Now once the enriched uranium fuel rods are loaded into the fuel assembly the process of generating electricity can begin. In order to do this the uranium atoms need to be split by neutron particles to create fission. So when a beam of neutron particles is fired at the fuel rods the uranium atoms become unstable and split. This results in two smaller uranium atoms and two to three neutrons, which collide with the other uranium atoms,creating a chain reaction. The product of this chain reaction isheat, which comes from the release of energy when the atom splits millions of times. Now if this chain reaction were allowed to continue uncontrolled the heat would become so great that it would melt the reactor and all the radioactive energy and waste would escape. In order to prevent this, neutron absorbing control rods are installed amongst the uranium fuel rods. When they are released they absorb the neutron particles to reduce the heat by slowing down or stopping the chain reaction. These control rods can also accelerate the chain reaction by raising them out of the bundles of fuel rods increasing the collision of neutrons and uranium atoms.

  1. Pressurizer, Steam Generator, and Condenser Coolant

The heat from the reactor is transferred and turned into electricity by a series of three water systems or loops. In pressurized water reactors, (the most common type) there are three separate, interacting loops of water. The pressurizer loop, steam generator loop and the condenser coolant loop. In the first loop, (pressurizer) water is constantly being cycled through a pressurized tube getting heated to around 325 degrees Celsius by traveling around the hot reactor. The water remains a liquid even at these temperatures because the pressure in this loop prevents the water from boiling. This super-heated wateris cycledthrough a second loop,(steam generator), which is part of a separate low pressure water loop. This water is heated by the first loop and turned into steam.The steam energy thentravels past a turbine, which is connected to electrical generators. The steamis cooled back into water in a heat exchange in the third water loop,(condenser coolant), which carries water from large cooling towers to cool the steam back to liquid water. The water in loop two, (steam generator) can nowcycle back to be boiled again, repeating the process.

The Best Green Energy Fuels

Green energy fuels are a popular, environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. There are many kinds of natural and clean ways to provide power for our everyday needs that do not cause excessive pollution. These renewable resources come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are limitless.

The following are considered to be the most cost efficient, popular, and effective green energy sources.

I. Solar Power

One of the fastest growing, cleanest, and most efficient green energy fuels is solar power. The sun has long been considered a Wind Turbines great source of renewable energy and the technology to harness its massive power is now becoming more and more affordable and widely used. The development of solar panels and cells used to power everything from flashlights to entire homes, and even entire power plants, are now being used around the world. These panels and cells store energy from the sun and provide users with an unlimited source of electrical power. Recently, an increase has been seen in the use of solar energy in homes and cars because many government programs are offering users of solar energy tax incentives in an effort to promote a cleaner, everlasting, energy source, thus now making it an affordable option for everyday, environmentally conscious people.

II. Wind Power

Wind power is great source of natural, clean, energy and is one of the best ways to provide pollutant free electricity to homes and businesses. Converting wind energy into electrical power through the use of turbines are being used to power large scale power plants, as well as, isolated, rural farms, where electricity is not easy or cheap to come by. Wind power has almost no negative impacts on the environment and the industry has seen a huge jump in the production, and use of wind turbines within in the past few years. Many countries are beginning to develop and produce mini wind turbines designed to power home appliances, and even entire houses. The great thing about wind energy is that it can be harnessed pretty much anywhere on earth. Many European countries are building huge wind turbines in the seas and oceans which border their countries. China and the United states are doing the same thing on their vast reserves of rural farm land in order to provide clean power to its citizens.

III. Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric power is the most widely used alternative green energy fuel source, and its popularity is continuing to grow. Electrical power generated by damming flowing or falling water has little to no waste by-products, making it one of the cleanest renewable resources available. Hydroelectric power provides limitless clean energy to large electrical plants which power large industrial complexes. They also are cost friendly to run and maintain. This saves communities tons of money in maintenance and repair costs. A typical hydroelectric plant will operate for nearly a century.

IV. Geothermal Power

Geothermal power is one the cleanest, most powerful green energy fuels. Produced naturally by the earth, it is cheap, and can be used for both large and small scale electrical needs.Though limited to areas where tectonic plates meet, where friction produces the heat necessary to produce its energy, geothermal resources are still found and used all over the world. More than 20 countries are currently using electricity produced by geothermal energy, and its popularity and use are continuing to grow. It has the ability to both, heat a house, as well as, produce enough energy to meet the power needs of an entire city. Technology used to capture geothermal energy has been growing, making it more affordable and trustworthy than ever before.

V. Biomass and Bio-fuel Power

Living, or newly dead, plant and animal matter, are some of the best sources of clean, renewable energy. This is because it can be grown relatively easy and used as fuel to produce electricity. Humans have been using these materials for fuel throughout history. Burning biomass materials such as wood to cook food and heat homes have evolved into large scale industrial growing operations. These are specifically designed to grow certain types of plants to be used as fuel to generate electricity. Biomass production and recycling is a growing source of green energy that reduces fossil fuel dependence, while at the same time reducing the amount of biological waste taking up valuable landfill space.

Petrol Fuel Drums

 

VI. Wave and Tidal Power

Similar to the way wind power is captured by turbines, wave and tidal power can be used in much the same way, and with the same effectiveness. Still on the cutting edge of clean energy technology, underwater generators and buoys are able to capture the energy of moving ocean water and use it to produce electricity with little impact on the environment. Energy from waves, tides, or ocean currents that are harnessed in buoys and underwater wind turbines are the newest renewable technologies being developed.