MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Are there feasible alternatives to transporting energy as electricity?

Date: Sun Mar 28 23:20:21 2004
Posted By: Donald Howard, Nuclear Engineering, Retired
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1077149538.Ph

Predicting the future is dangerous, particularly when it comes to the 
stock market, but with science, it is slightly less risky.  

Energy is transported in many forms.  Electricity being one, gasoline 
being another, and coal being carried in railroad cars also qualifies, but 
the transportation of coal is, for the most part, for the generation of 

I would think the answer to your question is probably no, the major form 
of energy transmission is likely to remain electricity for the foreseeable 

In some of the older science fiction stories, they used "beam power" where 
electricity or some other mysterious energy form was transmitted much like 
radio waves, through the atmosphere.  There was even some serious talk 
about putting solar collectors in space and beaming power to earth-side 
collectors, but unfortunately, strong beams of energy, here, you can think 
of lightning, will ionize the air it travels through, creating a lot of 
nasty side effects, and heavy energy loss.

What is a possibility is the development of a "room temperature super 
conductor."  Should that happen, infinite amounts of energy can be 
transmitted through hair thin wires at low voltages.  Low voltage means 
not much insulation, and such electrical transmission systems could be 
laid in like the fiber optic systems used for data transmission today. 

Other than that, I see no other viable systems on the horizon.

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