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ABOUT AUTHOR

Dr. Alexander Bell, USA

Dr. Alexander Bell


Dr. Alexander Bell, American Scientist, Engineer, Inventor has authored 37 inventions, published more than a hundred technical articles and has been 9-times winner of the "Best Design Ideas" awards by EDN and Electronic Design Magazines.

Dr. A. Bell has been a long time enthusiast, technology evangelist and promoter of the Alternative Energy. He pioneered multiple R&D and design works in this area, including variety of ultra-low voltage micro-power electronic devices and, in particular, Capacitive Energy storage replacing the electro-chemical batteries in portable and stationary applications.

Electrical Capacitors replacing Batteries: three decades ago this idea sounded more like a technical prophecy or some kind of scientific abstraction, placed far away from technological realities. Today it eventually became one of the most exciting technical opportunities with potentially tremendous positive socio-economical implications. These core innovative engineering concepts served as the topical umbrella for the first public release of GEL INITIATIVE.

GEL INITIATIVE: #1 ON GOOGLE

Shortly after its first introduction "GEL Initiative" became a kind of societal phenomenon, topping the Google™ search result list for many years. The initial text of the GEL Initiative was revised several times, reflecting additional ideas, engineering findings and providing the balanced systematic approach to the Alternative Energy transition. Recently it was amended with special provisions, addressing rather important environmental (in particular - Climate Change) concerns.

Note: in a context of this GEL Initiative the terms: Alternative Energy and Renewable Clean Energy are synonymous, used interchangeably.



DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

This Document and its Author are protected by the Law of the United States of America, and in particular, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Though the Author has made significant efforts to ensure the accuracy of this Document please be notified that the Document is provided on 'AS IS' basis without warranty of any kind. In NO case the Author and/or his affiliates could be held liable for any damages related to this Document.


  1. Revised as of 01/28/2009
  2. Revised as of 08/09/2011

GREEN ELECTRICITY INITIATIVE: ENERGY AGENDA FOR THE US

by Dr. Alexander Bell

PREAMBLE

In a context of this document Alternative Energy is a synonym for Renewable Clean Energy, the vital part and the centerpiece of the ongoing "Green" technology revolution we are witnessing.

Revolutionary transition to Alternative Renewable Energy on a massive scale requires systematic approach, forward thinking and coordinated efforts of many industries on every stage of Energy consumption cycle, namely:

  1. Generation
  2. Storage
  3. Distribution
  4. Utilization

GEL Initiative is intended to speed up the "Green Energy" technological transition, addressing all above areas with primary focus made on environmentally preferred, renewable Energy Generation and Storage. Special provision is included regarding the Climate Change prevention as this issue is tightly correlated with the Alternative Energy agenda.  Conceptual umbrella of proposed solutions is composed around several core technical ideas and key concepts, outlined below:

1. POWER GENERATION

A. Solar Power. It should be recognized and clearly stated that Solar energy is the first and foremost long-term Alternative Energy solution. It could be used either in direct form (e.g., for heating purpose) or indirect form through photo-voltaic technology. Sun provides several orders of magnitude [1] more energy than the mankind need for the daily use. The Sun is our ultimate power plant, providing practically unlimited amount of sustainable clean energy for several billion years without any environmental risks and other side effects; all maintenance, delivery and waste management problems already been taken care of by God himself (mother nature for non-believers).

B. Wind Power is coming next, providing an abundant amount [1,2] of clean renewable energy with a very little environmental impact.

C. Hydro, Tidal and Wave Power [3,4,5] provides another alternative energy source with relatively small negative environmental impact.

D. Geothermal Power [6] is eco-friendly, but not commonly available, and as such should be considered as a supplemental energy source to primary ones.

E. Biofuel, Biomass [7,8] could serve the purpose of valuable addition to the above mentioned energy sources, but should not be considered a primary energy sources; they are also not as eco-friendly as above listed ones.

F. Nuclear power generated by traditional fission reactors [9] is not a renewable energy in a strong sense as the resources of splitting materials, used for nuclear fission are the subject for rapid depletion in the same way as it applies to fossil fuel. To the contrary, fusion reactors (currently in experimental stage) could provide enough energy for several thousand (deuterium based) or even millions (lithium based) years, provided the power consumption as it exists now. The issue of potential environmental risk due to radioactive waste and also, geo-political risks make this source of energy less attractive comparing with other green technologies.

G. Mineral fuel. As a general rule, any use of mineral (fossil) fuel as energy source should be considered least desirable in the energy consumption cycle primarily because of the potential depletion and negative environmental impact (in this regards natural gas provides the most clean solution among other types of mineral fuel).

H. Novel power sources includes the variety of non-traditional, sometimes seemingly "exotic" electric energy generators, e.g., muscle-driven electrical generators [10], energy "scavengers", extracting energy from ambient mechanical vibration [11]. Though their share in the overall energy consumption is relatively small, the positive environmental and social effects of their use could be rather high.

2. ENERGY STORAGE

Electric Energy Storage technology is a centerpiece of the revolutionary transition to Alternative Energy.  For example, in regards to the proliferation of Electro-Vehicles (EV) in the US: it was heavily overlooked and not clearly articulated, that the biggest obstacle to the mass production of EV in our country is the lack of commercially-available technically-efficient portable energy storage devices, either electro-chemical Batteries, or electric Capacitors, or Hydrogen energy storage.

A. Capacitive Energy storage devices

Utracapacitor as Electric Energy Storage. Copyright © Alexander Bell

Capacitors replacing electro-chemical Batteries in portable applications - it was the cornerstone idea of the article [12], selected as the "Best Design Idea" by EDN Magazine. To clarify the subject: there are special type of electric Capacitors, called interchangeably Supercapacitors or Ultracapacitors [19] that are used to store the electric energy in a form of electrostatic field. To the contrary, traditional Batteries (primary and rechargeable) utilize the electro-chemical reaction as the source of Energy. Capacitors could replace electro-chemical Batteries in any portable or stationary applications; commercial [10,13] industrial[14], military [15,16] and space [17,18]. The image shown above demonstrates the Light-Emitting Diode (LED) powered by Capacitor instead of traditional electro-chemical Battery. 

Major advantages of electric Capacitors  vs. rechargeable electro-chemical Batteries in energy storage applications of any type (portable or stationary) are listed below:

B. Electrochemical rechargeable Batteries for pretty long time were considered to be the most obvious and popular energy storage solution intended for portable applications. In the context of potential electric car (EV/HEV) proliferation, there is increased interest in particular Li-Ion technology, which most likely will dominate this market until the Capacitive energy storage devices reach the required level of technical sophistication and economical competitiveness.

C. Hydrogen energy storage represents another option, equally applicable to the stationary and portable applications. Hydrogen in not a primary energy source; the process of hydrogen generation is not as straightforward and environmentally friendly as Solar/Wind Power generation coupled with Capacitive storage.

D. Grid Energy Storage [21] is currently the most common method of managing the electric energy surplus on a massive scale, but its usage is essentially limited to the stationary applications.

E. Mechanical Energy storage represents arguably the biggest variety of devices, tracing back to the dawn of human civilization. This group includes pumped water, hydroelectric dams, compressed air, flywheels, etc. Most likely they will be around for pretty long time as a valuable addition to the electric energy storage devices.

F. Thermal Energy storage devices, e.g. the ones utilizing some sort of molten salt to store the heat lack the flexibility and universality of energy stored in electric form, and as such their industrial prospective is relatively limited.

3. ENERGY DISTRIBUTION

A. Novel local low voltage DC power bus. Electric Energy distribution systems in general are rather sophisticated and well developed. They mostly utilize AC power transmission. The same goes to the end pints, i.e. power outlet, either residential or commercial, which operates typically within the range of 100V...240V (commercial), 50/60 Hz depends on national standards. At the same time, Solar photovoltaic panels typically produce DC electric energy of relatively low voltage (up to 48V). In this context, developing the Low Voltage local DC power bus [14] could be a valuable addition to the residential power systems, especially having the fact, that majority of electronic equipment requires low-voltage DC for their internal operation. Such power bus will allow eliminating duplicate AC/DC energy conversion and also increase the safety due to lowering the outlet voltage.

4. ENERGY UTILIZATION

This is the final step in the Energy consumption cycle, providing tremendous potential for the improvements, which could come in multiple flavors.

A. Conservation is valuable approach, equally applicable to Alternative/Traditional Energy technologies: "a saved kilowatt is an earned kilowatt". Conservation could come in many different forms, reducing energy losses either directly or indirectly. Thermal-effective housing technologies, transportation vehicles with high mpg, in particular, HEV/EV [22], high-efficiency LED-based lighting devices, proper adjustment of vehicles' tire pressure give us good practical examples of direct energy conservation. Conservation could come in indirect form, for example, implementing paperless technology, thus reducing solid waste and associated energy consumption by paper manufacturers. It's utmost important to ensure that the conservation agenda/projects are based on common sense, solid engineering background and serve the best public interests. Conservation agenda should not be "over-used", serving as a topical umbrella for some weird senseless projects, which could lead to the substantial degradation of our life style. For example, we should explicitly reject such notions as "taking less shower", or "using less toilet paper", or "making "less laundry", or "turning off the thermostat and putting on two sweaters", etc.; We must also prevent any attempt of over-exploiting the conservation agenda for the purpose of political and ideological benefits by special interest groups.

5. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Solid waste reduction

Battery contamination in NY Subway. Copyright © Alexander Bell Battery contamination in NY Subway. Copyright © Alexander Bell Solid waste reduction. Environmental concerns associated with gaseous contamination (greenhouse gases) have been well addressed by current US government officials. Another aspect of environmental protection is the reduction of solid waste, associated Energy generation and consumption cycle. Improper Batteries disposal practice presents huge ecological problem, which could escalate due to anticipated proliferation of EV, which would require dramatic increase in battery production. The scenes like shown below are rather typical not only for the New York City subway system, where they were taken, but could be seen almost in any places throughout the country. Current electrochemical Battery production worldwide exceeds billions of pieces annually. Most sophisticated types of Batteries are using Lithium, which is relatively rare metal; its availability is also a subject for certain geo-political concerns. Replacing Batteries with Capacitors (Ultracapacitors) could dramatically reduce the environmental impact due to increased operating life and RoHS-compliance of Capacitors.

SUMMARY: TOP PRIORITIES AND RECOMMENDED ACTIONS

Certain provisions of this Initiative require Legislative actions, and as such, must be brought to the attention of the Federal, State and Local governmental officials. Other provisions could be implemented just based on the public support, participation of various engineering, scientific and business communities, venture capitals and foundations.

A. Strategic Government investment in Clean Renewable Energy generation, in particular, Solar and Wind Power is the highest technological priority. Transition to Alternative Energy could provide tremendous socio-economical and geo-political benefits for the US and also addresses the most critical environmental concerns, including Climate Change prevention.

B. Massive Government investments in Energy Storage Technology, especially in Ultracapacitors (Supercapacitors) to be considered one of the highest technological priorities in a context of "Green" revolution.

C. Paperless technologies must be considered of a high national priority and receive an adequate support from US Governmental and Legislative bodies. In particular, there is a compelling need for the development and wide adoption of:

  • Paperless Educational technologies
  • Health Care digital records processing

C. Energy education is pivotal for the success and proliferation of "Green" technologies in our society. Having the importance of this issue the author recently submitted proposal [23] outlining the concept of novel Internet-based online Interactive Tutorials, replacing the traditional printed educational materials, thus serving the dual purpose: providing the universal access to the educational resources and moving our society toward paperless educational technology.

D. Transparency in Energy/Environmental projects is a must. In order to avert the risk of Governmental money/resources waste any significant investments in Energy/Environmental projects should undergo the public scrutiny and due diligence. It's highly recommended to create a Government-sponsored dedicated to "Green" technologies Web portal to serve the multiple purpose of adding transparency about ongoing and planned projects, to provide effective knowledge sharing, demonstrating best practices, etc. This portal could also implement a polling/voting ("referendum") engine to be used as a modern tool of working democracy regarding the highly-important techno-economic decisions on Alternative Energy projects (the voting could performed on a state and/or federal levels).

E. Fight Obesity with Man-made Electricity is an initiative, introduced in the recent proposal [23]. As the obesity in the US reaches epidemic proportion then proposed idea could have multiple positive effects: it gives a stimulus to exercise as a mean of personal fitness and also as a direct personal contribution to the "green" technological revolution. Well, it could also save some money (roughly about $1 bln per year nationwide, provided that all adult population in US exercises 1 hour a day), though monetary factor is not the primary consideration in this context. The idea is rather simple to implement - there is a big variety of commercially-available muscle-powered electric generators (e.g. [10]); btw, the concept of using muscle power to produce electricity is probably a century old. On the quantitative side: the rough estimate of 75W average power the human's body could produce during the 1 hour execise gives the approximate energy figure, which is sufficient to charge the typical laptop battery to the operating level (their energy capacity is about 60...90 Whr). 5 min of exercise should produce enough energy to fill the average cell-phone or iPod battery. Needless to say, this idea could greatly benefit from replacing the traditional batteries with electric Capacitors [10,12,13], as described above; this will potentially reduce the required charge time from tens of minutes to just seconds.

AFTERWORDS

The Author of this initiative has a firm belief, that the core technologies of modern time, which will also define the future US technological, political, economical leadership and overall humanitarian progress of the mankind are Energy and IT (Information Technology).

Support the Initiative. The Author would welcome the partnership/cooperation with US Governmental Agencies, Legislative bodies, private Companies and Foundations in order to support this Initiative, in particular, several derived R&D project listed below:

  • Electric Capacitors replacing electro-chemical Batteries
  • Micro-power low-voltage electronics: ideas and implementation
  • Novel Alternative Energy generators and converters

Dr. Alexander Bell,
NY, USA
Contact email: bell@alexanderbell.us


REFERENCES

  1. Solar Energy, Wiki
  2. Wind power, Wiki
  3. Hydropower, Wiki:
  4. Tidal power, Wiki:
  5. Wave power, Wiki:
  6. Biofuel, Wiki
  7. Biomass, Wiki
  8. Geothermal power, Wiki
  9. Nuclear Power, Wiki
  10. Alexander Bell. Muscle power drives battery-free electronics, EDN, 11/21/2005
  11. Joseph A. Paradiso, Thad Starner. “Energy Scavenging for Mobile and Wireless Electronics”, Pervasive Computing, January-March 2005, pp. 18-27.
  12. Alexander Bell, Single capacitor powers audio mixer EDN, Mar 1997
  13. Alexander Bell. Mobile Electric Power: Battery-Free, Renewable, Clean
  14. Alexander Bell. “Ultracapacitor based clean energy solution”, EISG Grant Proposal, California Energy Commission, 2007.
  15. Alexander Bell. “Alternative methods of wireless sensor power”, Proposal N052-130-0219 (DoD SBIR), 2005.
  16. Alexander Bell. “Hybrid soldier power source”, Proposal A052-013-0969 (DoD SBIR), 2005.
  17. Alexander Bell. “Innovative Battery Charger Control System”, Proposal (DoD SBIR Topic AF99-041), 1999.
  18. Alexander Bell. “Ultracapacitor for Satellite Energy Storage”, Proposal AF071-182 (DoD SBIR), 2006.
  19. Electric double-layer capacitor (Supercapacitors), Wiki
  20. RoHS Home Page (UK Gov)
  21. Grid energy storage
  22. Tesla Motors web
  23. Alexander Bell. Edumatter: Educational Web Portal, proposal to the US Department of Education (currently under review), 2010.
PRACTICAL GREEN ENGINNERING

New generation of recheargeable batteries (so-called "precharged") represents improved power management solution due to high capacity combined with dramatically reduced self-discharge rate


Novel high-capacity SD memory card extends the storage capability of many portable devices and greatly contribute to the "paperless" office technology

Copyright © 2003-2011 Alexander Bell. All Rights Reserved.