What is Energy Exactly?


Energy is the ability, the ability to do work, the ability that causes motion or changes. To live our life, to keep things moving, to keep the systems running on, both in the world and in the universe, we need energy. We eat with energy, travel with energy, we work with energy. Even when we are sleeping, energy is flowing throughout our body. So, the instances of energy are in everywhere, in every form that we can imagine or sometimes may not. The universal quantity of energy cannot change though the forms can. Discussing all the sources would take ages. So here we are naming the decent ones. Light, Heat, Potential, Kinetic, Gravitational, Electric, Magnetic, Nuclear, Chemical, Thermal, Elastic are some of the forms that we deal with regularly. Heat and light together make solar energy, Potential and Kinetic make Mechanical. However, the most important question to raise is, “where do we get the energies from that we use in day to day life”?


Apart from the fact that sun is the only source of energy for the earth, in today’s world, we mostly gain our energies from fossil fuels. Additionally, we have Biomass, Nuclear and Renewable energies. Fossil fuels are extracted, decomposed animal organisms and plants from millions year back. Biomass is nothing but biometric materials that can be got directly from plants. Nuclear energy is released during nuclear fusions, taking place inside the big mystic nuclear reactors. With the nuclear researches in the late 30s and in the first half of 40s, mostly for using them in war fares, man discovered that masses can be transformed into energy and vice versa! Finally, we have the renewable energy which is not diminished while using, coming from sources like solar or wind. Apart from its rational price tag, Fossil fuels come with a huge cost, impacting our environment vigorously. These impacts include climate change and global warming, dropdown in the air quality, acid rains, and oil spills that destroys eco-systems. Moreover, these are going to run out in within the next century anyway. Biomass energy also have similar issues. Nuclear reactors also produce a huge amount of nuclear wastes which are both dangerous and take thousands of years to decompose. So, the only kind of energy left is the renewable ones, the ones that we consider green energy, the one that is badly needed for us right away. These energies come in different forms like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, wave and geothermal. Presently we do have the technologies to be 100% renewable reliant. So, let’s talk about these most advanced sources of energies.


Tidal Power

By harnessing the ocean tides, we can easily power the entire world, even beyond our needs. That is why many companies worldwide are already well into this. The largest wave energy project is to be built in the Australian offshore generating 19 MW. Furthermore, researches in this field are going in a decent pace which may allow us to get 99% of the wave's energy instead of the 50% that the present technologies give us.





Hydrogen

Engines burning pure hydrogen gives no pollution. In our planet, it comes with other elements like Oxygen, like in the form of H2O. By separating these hydrogen molecules, it can be pumped into mobile fuel cells into vehicles, and then can be converted in electricity, making ways for electric cars to come into the market.


Geothermal Heat

This is done by converting the uprising heat from the molten earth-core. It is already a well-established method, powering millions of homes and industries around the world. In places like Iceland and Philippines huge percent of the national energy need is got by this way.


Solar Window

Apart from the regular solar panels, there is a new, amazing discovery that is opening new possibilities for the solar energy concept. Some great researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico has invented transparent glasses that can work as solar panels. So, it is a huge possibility that within few years, when the product goes cheap enough to come into the market, we will have our windows that will provide us with both the sunlight and its energy.





Biofuels

In the last decades, the production of biofuels has increased in large number. In the US alone, biofuel production grew more than 500% from 2002 to 2013. The problem with these however is that we need special crops to grow from which we get the most of this ethanol and biodiesel which competes with our food growing lands, making the food price go high. But there’s still lot to do as we can use algae as the third generation of biofuels. By processing righteously, it can be converted into electricity, natural gas and even fertilizer. They grow fast and don’t need farmlands, proving its viability. Furthermore, it can also be used to treat waste-water very effectively and cost efficiently. These waters can then be released into the rivers or oceans, or even can be drunk as pure water!


Flying Wind Turbines

Flying wind turbines are indeed the next version of the traditional ones we use today. On an article published in the MIT News, it stated that “The Buoyant Air Turbine (or BAT), developed by Altaeros Energies, uses an inflatable shell to float 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground, where winds blow five to eight times stronger, and more consistently, than winds at tower level”. A ring-shaped balloon, tied tightly enough to the ground with the turbine in the middle of it. It will be able to produce power by dealing with winds more than hundred miles per hour. These flexible turbines are designed to bring wind turbines to places where building a regular turbine would be ineffective, and the first of its kind would be serving Alaska. With the potentials mentioned, it is hoped to soon take-over the usual wind turbines of today.



Airborne wind turbine. Photo Credits - bit.ly/2GX4rZJ


Human Power

Scientist are trying to invent and modernize devices that will work harvesting the power of our regular human movement. Considering the fact that electronic devices are day by day becoming less power consuming, this form of energy production is surely ready to see the face of light. Moreover, thinking of the world population we have, this can be a serious form of energy despite it might tiny right now.


So, it's clear as daylight that renewable energies are indeed the best what we can get. And the best part is that we would never need to compromise our planet to harness it, like we would need for the fossil fuels and the other harmful conventional ones.


Written by: Bayezid Hossain

Bayezid Hossain is volunteering for Voyager Space Outreach to write Blog posts on Space/STEM oriented topics.

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