Sunday, December 20, 2009

Earth and Sun and Moon

I recently read a story about research to use Helium-3 from the Moon for fusion power. Helium-3 is a non-radioactive element that is rare on Earth. However, it is abundant on the Moon. If we ever wanted to use it to generate energy, this has, among other things, the obvious complication of moving the helium-3 (or the energy) from the Moon the Earth. This is just research and not going to be a cure to our energy issues anytime soon, if ever. But it did provoke an interesting thought.

Would this be the first lunar source of power that we could harness? No. At least to a small degree, we collect lunar power today with wave and tidal power. And furthermore, helium-3 is caused by the solar winds interacting with the lunar surface, so it is actually an embodied form of solar power.

Drat, what I thought was the first Moon power source was neither the first, nor from the moon.

What are the original sources of all of the energy that we use today? I propose that they all originate from one of three sources: The Earth, the Sun, or the Moon.

We have already covered wave and tidal energy from the Moon's pull on our oceans.

Geothermal and hot springs are an energy sourced from the Earth's fiery core. Some chemical energy could be Earth sourced too. More on that below.

Fossil Fuels are biological matter that were trapped and converted by bacterial processes, heat and pressure. This is true for crude, coal, and natural gas (methane). The majority of the biological matter would have been fed from the food chain and so is originally sourced from the Sun with Earth processing for the heat and pressure.

From the Sun more directly we derive photo-voltaic and solar thermal energy. Other sun sources include plant matter including biomass and plant, animal, & algae oils and even a simple campfire.

Hydro power harnesses the water cycle, this is primarily driven by water evaporated by the Sun.

Lightning: This is an interesting one. It is not harnessed, but you can't deny that it is powerful. Lightning is caused by weather, therefor this is a result of the Sun.

Chemical energy could be either Sun or Earth sourced. It depends on how the chemicals were created. Volcanic sulfur would be an example of an Earth source that could be used to generate energy. And we have already discussed hydrocarbons.

What other energy sources can you come up with? Are they Earth, Sun, or Moon or other? Until we start mining asteroids or other planets, we're stuck with just these three original sources. Let's make the best of them.

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