(Readers: Please note the blog about the 5th revolution in the US is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, after reading a few recent entries, you might want to start at the beginning. More about the blog and about the author. )
 

Scene: Italian restaurant. Jordan and friends, Ms and daughter, Maggie. Having dessert and coffee. Dinner starts Entry #61.

Maggie: “OK, so you are working on a project to rebuild US manufacturing. I’ve got a question.”
Jordan: “Fire away.”
Margaret Maggie: “Does more US manufacturing mean more pollution?”
Ms: “Yeah, Jordan, why does it seem that increased manufacturing always means more pollution. There must be a better way. Let’s hear it smart guy.”
Jordan: “You guys are tough…and asking a good question.”
Ms: “We’re waiting for the answer.”
Jordan: “The answer is economic growth and pollution are not inextricably linked.”
Maggie: (Looking at her mother) “Does he always talk like this?”
Ms: “Usually worse. More eco-babble, please.”
Jordan: “Economic growth can occur using clean energy – solar, wind, etc.”
Womens symbolMaggie: “Solar seems OK but wind uses those large propeller things. They’re ugly, make lots of noise and kill birds. Isn’t there any type of clean energy?”
Jordan: “Yes. Thermal and kinetic energy.”
Ms: “Tell us more, please.”
Jordan: “Let me give you a couple of examples. Ms, think back to when you were a kid. Its summer time.”
Ms: “Hot and sticky in Louisiana.”
Jordan: “Was there a garden hose at your house?”
Ms: “Dark green.”
Jordan: “Did you ever get a drink out of the hose?”
Ms: Yes but the water was so hot we had to let it run for a while before we could drink it.”
Jordan: “Next example. Maggie, where do you want to pretend to be?”
Maggie: “Back in Newport Beach.”
Green Garden HoseJordan: “Alright. Now take off your sandals and walk through the parking lot to your car.”
Maggie: “I live on the beach and don’t have to walk through the parking lot.”
Jordan: “Your answers sometimes remind me of your mother.”
Ms: “Jordan, be nice to us and I’ll buy dinner.”
Jordan: “You know what I meant. And yes, I will be nice. You know I like both of you very much.”
Maggie: “Back to the example…and I will play along.”
bare-feet Jordan: “Good. Go to the store and walk across the parking lot in your bare feet.”
Maggie: “Can’t. The asphalt is too hot and my feet will burn.”
Ms: “Where are you headed with these examples? A garden hose and an asphalt parking lot.”
Jordan: “Each is an example of the effect of thermal energy.”
Maggie: “You’re saying the water and the parking lot were made hot by the sun and nothing else.”
Jordan: “Exactly. And heated for free by the sun.”
summer-smile-sun-hi Ms: “So back to your project. How can we capture thermal energy for free and replace energy from say coal or oil?”
Maggie: “Besides oil, coal…even natural gas…are expensive compared to free. Coal, oil and natural gas have lots of pollution.”
Jordan: “We’re getting better are reducing pollution from fossil fuels but zero is hard to beat.”
Ms: “What can we use thermal energy for?”
Jordan: “The most obvious is heating, especially water. Heating water takes lots of energy.”
Maggie: “How much does it cost every month to heat water?”
Jordan: “Spoken by someone who must live in Newport Beach.”
Ms: “Jordan, you are on the edge of not getting me to pay for dinner. Be nice.”
Jordan: “The comment was such an opening I could not resist. Anyway, depends on the area but to heat water costs $40-$50 per month.”
Ms: “That’s more than I realized. $50 bucks is more than 25-30% of my monthly electric bill.”
Maggie: “Can you convert thermal energy into electricity?”
Jordan: “Yes. A simple approach is making water hot enough to turn to steam. The steam then turns a generator and makes electricity. In many ways like a power plant fueled by coal but without the pollution.”
Ms: “Let’s not turn dessert and coffee into a physics lesson. I’m too old to go back to high school.”
Maggie: “You gave us two examples. Thermal and what was the other one?”
Jordan: “Kinetic energy. Easiest way to think about kinetic energy is the energy of an object in motion.”
Maggie: “Like a car or truck or motorcycle.”
Kinetic EnergyJordan: “Good examples.”
Maggie: “So the faster the car goes, the more kinetic energy?”
Ms: “And I suppose the heavier truck has more kinetic energy.”
Jordan: “I know you want to skip the physics lesson but the formula for kinetic energy, or KE, is ½ mass times velocity squared.”
Ms: “In the words of Ricky Ricardo, ‘Splain that, please.’”
Jordan: “Half the weight of the object multiplied by the square of how fast it is going.”
Maggie: “Say a rock weighs 10 pounds. And as you carry it you accidentally drop it on your foot. The KE would be ½ weight of the rock – 5 pounds – times the square of how fast the rock was going when it hit your foot – say 10 miles per hour. So KE would be 5 (pounds) times 100 (10 mph x 10 mph).
Jordan: “You got it.”
Ms: “So, if we’re in the car, KE at say 40 mph is not simply 2x KE at 20 mph but 4x KE at 20 mph. The square of 20 is 400 and the square of 40 is 1600.”
Maggie: How do they measure KE anyway? What’s miles per hour times pounds? Even I know that won’t work.”
Jordan: “The measurement is joules.”
Ms: “I like that measurement. Maggie, we could take the car and have a jewel crash. A little ding could be a ruby incident. A fender bender could be an emerald crash. And totaling the car would be a diamond crash.”
Crown Jewels Maggie: “I could tell my hubby, ‘Gee honey, I’m your queen. And he’ll ask why. Then I can tell him I had an emerald crash today in the car.’ That sounds a whole lot better than ‘I dented the front fender.’”
Jordan: “The measurement is spelled ‘j-o-u-l-e-s,’ not ‘j-e-w-e-l-s’.”
Ms: “Too bad. I thought we were on to something.”
Maggie: “OK, Jordan, other than wrecking the car, how does one capture kinetic energy?”
Jordan: “One of my favorite examples is capturing the energy of waves in the ocean. Any kind of wave, actually, but waves in the ocean have the most energy.”
Ms: “What do you do, build some device to convert waves to electricity?”
Jordan: “As a matter of fact, I’m part of a group that designed such a device. We’re not the only ones working on converting kinetic energy to electricity.”
Maggie: “But capturing KE…and thermal energy…are ways to generate electricity without any pollution. And the energy cost is free.”
Ms: “Why isn’t this country adopting more of these ideas? We seem to be fighting innovative ways of generating electricity with little or no pollution. Resisting this makes no sense to me.”
Jordan: “Unless you are in a business that’s going to be replaced.”
Maggie: “But that’s a losing battle. Otherwise we still be riding around in buggies pulled by horses.”
Jordan: “I agree, but a lot of people are fighting it. I think that attitude is changing. We have a real desire among a lot of people to make changes. People are starting to call the events the last months the beginning of the 5th US Revolution. The people also elected a new Congress and demanding Congress get something done. I’m actually hopeful.”
Ms: “Glad to hear that.”
Maggie: “Guys, the waiter is here. Let’s have some more coffee.”

(To be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements