Sunday, August 26, 2012

Could we solve energy problem and reduce global warming?

I have been living in Delhi which is a very hot place during summers, so I have been always struggling with heat in
Delhi summers. On top of the heat, we Indians often have to live with power cuts. I started wondering can't we
solve both problems of heat and power cuts?
I don't exactly remember when I had this crazy idea, but must have been in late 80s. I was in my early teens and I
was a self styled science thinker, so I thought I could find the answer to this problem.
I learned that energy is not created but is transformed from one form to another. Another concept that I learned in
my 8th grade was that if we join a copper and an aluminium wire, and connect them to a hot and cold sources then
electric current starts flowing in the wire. So I began wondering, why can't we create electricity from the
environmental heat? Why should we require energy for both heating and cooling? At least one of these processes
should give off energy? At that time internet was not there, for people who were not in world class universities,
so I could not explore this idea further. I was further constrained by my blindness which didn't allow me to go to
a library and find out the answer.
But I kept thinking about this problem and when I got access to internet, I tried to find the reason. I never found
a reason why this can't be done, but I found about a few similar techniques being used to generate electricity.
These are on the lines of what I studied in my 8th grade. These methods are based on heat to electricity conversion
that requires temperature differential. If we can find cold and hot regions, there are ways to generate
electricity. There are a few electricity generators that depend on temperature differential in sea water.
But the question is why do we need a temperature differential? When we need more heat, we can switch on a heater,
and electricity gets converted to heat. Why can't we build a cooler which does the reverse?
Wouldn't that solve many of our problems? We could run our cars that convert heat to electricity. Imagine in stead
of cars that Bern fossil fuel and make our environment hotter, we could have cars that pass by us and we feel cool
breeze? Similarly a poor person in village could have an air conditioner that would generate electricity that could
either provide lighting for his house or could contribute to the common grid?
Well, that could pose a reverse problem of ice age in stead of global warming!