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Solar Electric Energy

Jennifer Said:

How much money would it cost if we used solar energy and kinetic energy to supply the united states?

We Answered:

Concentrating solar energy collectors with liquid salt heat storage for nights and cloudy days would need to cover about a 100 mile square area in a desert location to power the entire US including transportation. The total estimate for that to be built is around 10-12 trillion $$. If you figure we buy 100 billion $$ worth of oil each year from foreign countries, spent upwards of $1 trillion on a useless war in a region rich in oil (don't tell me oil had nothing to do with our being there, I don't believe that) and will spend another $1 trillion paying for the health care of those wounded in that war, made enough enemies so we will have to spend another $1 trillion over the next few years fighting the muslims in the mideast and destroying our environment while making millions sick at a huge cost to the economy by continuing to burn coal I think $10 trillion would be a pretty good bargain.

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Gertrude Said:

What are disadvantages and advantages for electric cars, & solar energy cars?

We Answered:

first why do you need sound the world is too noisy anyways. when I'm riding my bike I check the mirror every 20 seconds so why can't everyone else. second probably 75% of the population drives less than 50 miles a day in their commute so an all electric is perfect for them. A pulse charger can charge a lithium ion battery in 20 minutes, and there not that expensive if you know where to look. I bought a container of 200 LI's 300AH 24v from Hihon corp in china a few months back for 10k including shipping about $50 a piece. I finished converting a 85 dodge Omni for the wife. I just started an 86 Fiero for me, next will be something for my son, daughter, and son-in-law, and I'll still have enough to do another 20 cars plus replacement batteries. and as already stated solar is fine for a house supplemental system, I have 10kw on the south roof of my house as well as 4 vertical axis wind turbines on my garage roof. but neither will work on a car. Electrics are small and light, they can't be large trucks but bio diesel is renewable and relatively clean especially if they make up a small percentage of the vehicles on the road.
I'm keeping my gas and diesel cars and trucks I just won't drive them around town when an electric will do.

Hazel Said:

What is the difference between "thermic solar energy" and "electric solar energy"?

We Answered:

Normally I see this when discussing the difference between Photovoltaic (light electricity) solar panels and thermal (heat) Solar Panels. Solar thermal is the more mature technology with photovoltaic as a relative newcomer.

There has been an explosion of research in photovoltaic solar in recent years. Most is using visible light and efficiency has been slowly creeping up to around 40% presently with projections around 60% although what you can buy is probably around 15%. But the light that we can see is only part of the energy spectrum. Work is being done to try and capture other parts of the sun's rays that are not visible. Even if they are less efficient they will be drawing from a bigger pool.

Solar thermal applications also convert the suns rays but in this case to heat. The efficiency is about 60% to 80% and includes both visible and non visible light. Thermal solar applications usually place more emphasis on concentrating solar energy with mirrors on to a target or within a medium like water or some salts.

Solar thermal panels can heat air within them or water that flows through them. In each case there is a target that conducts heat to the medium. The latest advance in solar thermal panels are vacuum tube collectors. Often these use phase change materials and a vacuum in a tube to collect more of the sun's heat in cold environments and on cloudy days.

A greenhouse or a sun room is a solar thermal application as are windows placed on the sunward side of a house. Most commonly solar thermal is used to heat water or for space heating where it matches well with radiant floor heating but needs some thermal mass for storage.

Solar thermal applications can be used to run air conditioning using an absorption system for refrigeration.

Solar thermal applications can also produce electricity. There are three main designs: A power tower where a target is centrally located and many heliostats (mirrors that track the sun) focus sunlight onto a target. The steam produced might then be used to power a steam turbine. A hyperbolic mirror is used to power a stirling engine. This has an advantage of a potentially smaller scale. And last the trough collectors that focus light in the trough to central piping that is used to power turbines.

Nelson Said:

Is there a way to make car paint that collects solar and wind energy to power an electric car?

We Answered:

No. Air drag is one of the chief components in auto efficiency. What you describe would increase air drag.
As far as the solar part goes most cars have about 12 square feet of surface in the sun when the car is in the sun. 12 square feet can produce 900 watts. In four hours that would be 2700 Watt hours. A gallon of gasoline is about 37,000 Watt hours. What means is is that it is going to take over 100 days to produce the energy of one gallon of gasoline and everything has to be perfect.

Eleanor Said:

Do you think the economy and government will stop using gasoline and start using electric and solar energy?

We Answered:

Definitely not in the near future, despite of what Bush and everyone else would lead you to believe... First of all the oil companies won't let go of their monopoly till they run dry, 2nd of all there is no one focused company that is working on alternative fuel to be used as a mass product. Everyone is doing their own thing, Toyota is playing around with hybrids as is Honda and some other Japanese manufacturers, then they also dabble in hydrogen as well. German engineers seem completely lost when it comes to electronics and hybrid vehicles, so they rely on diesel and biodiesel. New Mercedes are being developed that will have both diesel and electric motors, which is awesome, but expensive, and highly unreliable. Diesels run very high pressures and use expensive parts like turbochargers, while electric motors got their own problems, like batteries, etc. Not a great idea to put them both in one car. On top of that it's the car manufacturers who are doing all this, not the companies who will be selling the fuels, so the car companies won't be making most of the profit, which makes means they are not funding these projects to the fullest. There are more reasons of course, but the thing is that we need to narrow down the alternatives and pick one or two fuels, then pool the available funding in that particular area and get some results. That way when there is a viable alternative further research can be done if necessary at whatever pace desired.

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