Energy policy

December 12, 2012 

WILLIAM WOLKENHAUER, West Richland

As our leaders craft a strategy for future energy growth, they need to ponder physical laws, which they are not at liberty to modify. Favoring electrical generation sources hobbled by physical limitations will be expensive.

At the present time, electrical generation is accomplished by chemical reaction, fission, fusion and gravity. Chemical reaction generation is accomplished by burning stuff such as coal, oil, natural gas, wood, waste, etc. Fission generation is accomplished in a reactor. The sun, which generates heat by several fusion reactions, is the energy source for solar, wind, tidal and hydro generation with consequent poor heat transfer and low energy density due to the extreme distance to the sun.

Of the fusion sources, hydro generation is the winner because the earth's gravity and topography allow for concentration of the collected energy resulting in higher energy density.

Natural gas and coal combustion, fission and hydro generation are the highest energy density options and thus the economic winners and will remain so. Fusion in a reactor may join this list, although it will have a lower energy density than fission and its own radioactive byproducts.

There are inherent reasons why the lower energy density options were abandoned in the past.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service