Two recent and largely ignored news stores bode well for potentially game-changing energy technologies such as Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) or cold fusion. One of these stories shows us could happen if we don’t deal if with our looming energy crisis, the other the potential and hope from next generation energy technologies.
Energy poverty has come to America, The Washington Post just ran an interesting feature about Sharon Garcia and her children who live in the old steel town of Pueblo, Colorado, about 100 miles south of Denver. Garcia has to keep most of her lights off most of the time and no longer uses her dishwasher in an attempt to keep her electric bill from eating up a large percentage of her income.
At one point, Garcia’s power was shut off and she and her children found themselves huddling under blankets and using candles for light because of no electricity. They also ended up boiling water on the stove for bathing because even their water heater did not work without electricity.
Pueblo now has some of Colorado’s highest electric bills, the Post reported that Garcia pays around $200 a month. Your blogger who also lives in Colorado pays around $70 a month. Electricity costs are so high in Pueblo because of costs related to the abandonment of coal-fired power plants. Pueblo’s utility Black Hills Energy has basically dumped coal in favor of more expensive natural gas and is now passing those costs onto its customers.
This situation could get much worse really soon because America’s railroads no longer have the capacity to haul coal to power plants. The Denver Post reported that some utilities have had to cut service because they couldn’t get enough coal. There simply aren’t enough trains or tracks to handle the demands on America’s rail system and the highway system is too small and jammed with traffic to pick up the slack.
These stories mean that there’s going to be plenty of demand for other sources of electricity such as LENR, fuel cells, solar panels etc. America’s electric grid is no longer dependable. New technologies and alternatives are needed now and fortunately they’re here.
Toyota Unveils New Energy Technology
Okay that’s the bad news, last week Toyota announced that its hydrogen fuel cell powered car will go on sale in Japan and California next year. A fuel cell is a device that uses a chemical reaction to directly generate electricity. Fuel cell powered vehicles are superior to cars powered by Lithium-Ion batteries because fuel cells have a greater energy density than lithium ion-batteries. Fuel cells are also far more efficient than engines, around 80% of the energy used by a fuel cell can be used to power a vehicle. Only around 30% of the energy used by a present generation gas or diesel engine can be applied to moving the vehicle.
A marriage of fuel cells and LENR could power future transportation because present generation fuel cells burn hydrogen. The production of hydrogen requires large amounts of electricity which could be provided by LENR power plants or reactors.
The good news is that there are lots of innovative technologies out there that could meet our energy needs. The bad news is that our so-called leaders are ignoring many of them, including those that provide the most promise such as fuel cells and LENR.