December 4, 2013 – Vol.18 No.38
THE LITTLE CLOCK THAT COULD POWER THE WORLD.
by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News
There isn't a problem that can't be solved.
Simple solutions are always the best.
Look back before you leap into the unknown.
The world needs new power plants that operate cleanly 24/7 with an inexhaustible supply of zero emission fuel.
Nuclear power, right? Nuclear power wrong.
Nuclear power is not clean. Its emissions are deadly radiation. Its waste – spent fuel – must be cared for for centuries.
There's a much simpler clean power solution, and it requires looking back about two hundred years (or perhaps over two thousand years*) to the simplest battery technology: Two pieces of dissimilar metals touched against a wet frog's leg by Luigi Galvani that caused the leg to twitch. The twitch was recognized by Alessandro Volta as an electrochemical reaction and Volta went on to build the first batteries.
For this simple primary battery to work one of metals must have the ability to oxidize (what we think of as corrosion or rust) in the presence of the other, and there must be some medium for charged particles to convey between the two metals. That medium can be as basic as water, or even humid air. This battery can provide electric current until the oxidizing metal is fully oxidized, consumed, or the medium (better known as electrolyte) is no longer available. If the electrolyte is water it will slowly break up into oxygen and hydrogen, with the hydrogen dissipating into the atmosphere and gone into space.
What's this got to do with clean power plants? Simple power plants could be built using batteries with replaceable metal plates, that when fully oxidized were removed and shipped to a recycling facility operated by clean energy. The recycled plates and the electrolyte would be the fuels for the power plants.
These simple battery power plants would need to be huge, measured perhaps, in portions of a square kilometer, and the number of metal plate combinations (aka cells) would be at least in the hundreds to develop adequate grid voltage. Each metal plate would be large, measured in square meters, to supply enough electric current, and daily operation would require the continual removing and replacement with recycled plates as they decayed, corroded away and sacrificed. Plates might last a few weeks perhaps. There'd be a steady round-trip flow of spent, oxidized metal plates between plant and the recycler.
Most will scoff at the idea. Too bad for them.
Yet on a much (much) smaller scale you can buy the technology behind this simple clean power plant idea as the Bedol Water Clock, or its latest version the Bedol Water Alarm Clock. As the names imply, the clocks run on water, but they also run on the dissimilar metal plates inside, which could last years before they need replacement. Both water (the electrolyte) and the metals are fuels in other words. The company says the water clocks don't use batteries, meaning store-bought replaceable or rechargeable batteries. The clocks with their internal dissimilar metal plates are mostly batteries in themselves.
So try one out for a Christmas gift for others or for yourself. And while it's telling you the time or time to get up, remember that scaled up hundreds of times this little clock could power the world, cleanly and forever.
(* If you believe that the first batteries were created in Baghdad in roughly 300 BC.)
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