Monday, September 8, 2008

Fixing Carbon

On September 19th, at 9:00 pm, the last episode of Project Earth, Fixing Carbon, will debut.

In Fixing Carbon the Project Earth will test machines and filtering devices which will be able to extract carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. It will then be able to store the excess carbon dioxide underground where it will not effect the atmosphere any more.

This carbon fixing technology is considered to be the holy grail of climatologists.

Orbital Power Plant

Immediately following Space Sunshield, Project Earth Orbital Power Plant will debut.

In this episode, the Project Earth team will attempt to test state-of-the-art solar cells in near Space. If these solar cells are able to be deployed in near Space, solar cells will be able to five times as much energy as solar cells on the ground.

The premise is to launch thousands of satellites that will be able to convert the solar energy into microwave energy. This microwave energy will be able to be collected by antennas on the ground that will be able to convert the energy into electricity.

Updates from this episode of Discovery Project Earth:

To be edited later...

The Earth's atmosphere scatters and absorbs about 50% of the Sun's energy. Clouds and obviously the night block the suns rays even further. These two negatives alone keep solar cells from performing under optimal circumstances.

The Project Earth Team has two objectives in this episode. They need to engineer microwave power to transport energy miles away and they need to find solar cells for space. ENTECH

The team expects to use solar concentrators to be used on the solar cells to boost their effectiveness. 8x more effective

The solar cell will be launched to 100,000 feet above the ground. Two solar cells to be launched. One control solar cell without a solar concentrator and one solar cell with a concentrator. The lenses and arrays needed to endure temperatures 100 degrees below zero.

At 35,000 feet, the Sun's energy is 25% stronger.
At 60,000 feet, the temperature falls to -106 degrees.
At 106,000 feet balloon froze and the experiment ends.

A single square yard of solar cells in space can account for the energy usage of a three person family.

8 times more power with the fernel(spelling) lense.

the microwave power will need to travel 22,000 miles. data acquisition.

The project earth team tries many different tests for their microwave power idea. They span twelve feet, 150 feet and 60 miles, the actual depth of atmosphere that the microwaves would have to pass through.

To be edited later...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Space Sunshield

Out of the entire Project Earth series, this idea seems to be the most expensive and hardest to accomplish. Currently, I do not know how they plan to engineer the space sunshield it self or how they expect it to get into space but the sunshield seems unfeasible before seeing their ideas.

All knowledge of costs and time to implement aside, the Space Sunshield idea is to setup a network of mirrors in space to reflect some of the Sun's light from shining on Earth warming it further. If they can get their plan in motion, they expect that these mirrors will be able to reflect the sun rays and slow down global warming.

This idea is very similar to the Brighter World episode. The main similarity is reflecting the Sun's light away from Earth. The difference is sending mirrors up into space.

You can catch Project Earth, Space Sunshield on the Discovery Channel on September 12th at 9PM EST.

Updates from the episode:

Apparently, I was thinking too much on spending money on space agencies on launching these lenses, I wasn't thinking of smaller private individuals who use small rockets.

If only 2 percent of the sun's rays are redirected, this would be able to bring global temperatures back down to preindustrial eras.

The original lens was two inches thick and about one foot in diameter. The engineer's idea calls for 16 trillion lenses to be launched. Aside from the costs of labor and production, the cost to launch these lenses would cost one million trillion dollars to launch. Enough to bankrupt the world for a very long time.

The Discovery Project Earth team was able to scale the lenses down to make them 1 micron thick instead of his current two inch think lenses. They were successful in shrinking the lenses on a sheet of silicon.

In order to get the sun refracting lenses into space, the team first tried to use a coil gun. They proved that the coil gun can work but they hope that using traditional, proven rocket technology will be able to control variables better than a system that launches at over 1,000 g force.

Rocket technology on the other hand only causes about 25g. The only problem with using rockets for a launch is that the force of 25g's are in all directions because of the rumbling of the rockets.

Unfortunately for the team, the rocket crashed. Everything was destroyed, they were not even able to retrieve pictures or film from inside the rocket monitoring the lenses. The entire experiment was a large failure. The Project Earth team can now only speculate "IF" their experiments worked.

Based on vague, hypothetical ideas, they came to the conclusion that the sunshield would be able to actually reverse global warming but only if our carbon dioxide levels are reduced.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hungry Ocean

In the sixth episode of the Project Earth series, Hungry Ocean, airing right after Infinite Winds, the team is back to test a new theory about eliminating dead zones from our oceans.

The team plans to experiment with large pumps to basically filter the ocean thus allowing better oxygen retention. If the ocean can hold oxygen better, populations of fish and phytoplankton can rebound in these areas. If the Project Earth team can succeed in bringing life to dead zones, the zones will be able to absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide.

updates from the show:
I was very wrong with my initial thinking...

Oceans absorb almost half of our current co2 emissions. The cause of this is not actually the ocean it self, but the life in the ocean. Phytoplankton is a type of plant that thrives in nutrient rich oceans. All plants use basic nutrients and carbon dioxide to grow. When the phytoplankton die, their bodies fall to the ocean floor and the carbon that they used to grow stays in the bodies removing carbon from the atmosphere.

The identified problem shown by this episode is that there are many places in the ocean where currents of water do not circulate from the ocean depths to the surface. If water was brought up with pumps from the nutrient rich ocean bottom, the pumps can promote plankton growth.

The Project Earth team plans on using pumps attached to buoys. The buoys will float on the surface of the ocean and the water pumps will dangle 1000 feet below. Between the pump and the buoy is a long tarp in the shape of a straw.

The pump design is very simple, there are no mechanical moving parts. Only the natural movement of waves is needed to pump the water up. The pump is a one way valve, only allowing water to go in the bottom. When the wave is at its lowest point, water is gulped into the pump. When the wave begins to pull the buoy back up, the valve closes and water is pulled up. This happens with every wave creating a very effective pump.

The team's results were mixed. Unfortunately, both pumps broke after they were deployed. The failures were chalked up to poor engineering in the welds that held the tarps together.

The first pump failed completely, it did not pump at all. Fortunately, the second pump did indeed work for a little longer then a half of a day.

The second pump actually proved the concept worked. Their sensors showed cooler water flowed up through the tubes for the limited amount of time that they worked.

If they get their design fixed, they may actually have a very good idea here.

The only concerns with this experiment are unwanted, toxic algae blooms.