Renewable energy becomes more important as we burn through our non-renewable resources. “Going Green” seems to be an increasingly popular idea and it’s no wonder why. To learn about renewable energy, why it’s important and how steam and solar power are used to generate it continue reading
What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is power that is created through the use of resources that cannot be depleted. Natural processes are used to generate energy from sunlight, the wind, geothermal heat, water, and other renewable resources. These resources are continuously replenished naturally.
Why is Using Renewable Energy Important?
The use of renewable energy is important for a few reasons. First, it helps reduce climate change. The greenhouse effect is one of the main causes for climate change. The greenhouse effect is caused by burning fossil fuel. Burning fossil fuel is the way we generate non-renewable energy, which leads to the next point. Using renewable energy reduces the dependence on fossil fuel. Fossil fuel is non-renewable and is becoming harder to find and more expensive because of it’s increasing rarity.
What is Steam?
When water is heated it starts to evaporate, causing steam. Steam is the gaseous form of water. It can also be called vapor. When boiling water in a pot, steam is the hot cloud produced above the pot. The boiling point is the temperature at which water turns to vapor. 212° F or 100° C is water’s boiling point.
Steam as Energy
Heating water increases the amount of energy in the water molecules. Those molecules spread farther apart when they are energized causing water to take up a greater volume in its gaseous form than in its previous liquid form.
Steam builds pressure because the volume increases from its liquid state. The steam’s thermal energy is converted to mechanical energy when the pressurized steam is used to drive a turbine to generate electrical current.
Steam has been used as a form of energy for a very long time. Steam engines have been used to power trains, ships, and early automobiles.
Using the Sun to Create Steam
As mentioned above, steam is created by heating water. Heat can be generated numerous ways, but we have the ultimate renewable heat source in the sky. The sun emits heat every day and we merely need to harness it to create renewable energy.
MIT has invented a new structure that generates steam using the sun. Their structure converts 85% of the collected solar energy into steam. The structure has a porous surface and floats on water. Inside the structure are flakes of graphite. When sunlight touches the surface of the structure it creates a hotspot in the graphite flakes that draws water into the pores and creates steam.
This structure is the most efficient attempt on solar-powered steam generation. The structure can be made at low costs and can generate steam with low solar intensity.
Renewable energy is important to the future of our planet. Steam is one of the most powerful forms of energy that can be generated with low costs and no damage to our atmosphere. Steam is renewable, but the process of heating the water to produce it isn’t. With the help of solar energy, we can eliminate the non-renewable resources needed to produce steam.