Move aside, wind and solar.
It has been taught since grade school how vast amounts of water evaporate with the help of the sun. But little did we know that this can actually be a source of renewable energy.
With its huge scale, even just those that evaporates from the US' lakes and dams can provide up to 2.85 billion megawatt hours of electricity per year, according to Ozgur Sahin of Columbia University and colleagues. And that's exclusive of the Great Lakes! To create a comparison, that's about two-thirds of the 2015 electricity generation of the US.
So, Sahin's team created several miniature evaporation engine prototypes. They've designed it in such a way that it can run during both night and day. Usually, lesser evaporation happens at night but evaporation during the day can actually be blocked to store energy. “At night you take advantage of this power,” says Sahin. “This is a great advantage.”
However, one of the biggest problem with this would be the harnessing . “The question is whether there is any practical way to capture that energy,” says Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California. Not to mention the difficulty of mass-producing these engines.
Nonetheless, if this becomes successful, it could even influence local weather for it generally reduces evaporation--as long as it covers an area of 250,000 square kilometres.
Sounds like a grand plan with great responsibilities. As long as it saves the planet, I'm all for it!
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