Journal of Energy and Power Technology
Most power plants produce electricity by converting a mechanical motion into alternating current (AC). Photovoltaic solar panels convert an electromagnetic flux of light into direct current (DC). In general, electric energy can be harvested from a flux in the environment or from a change of the environment itself. One can produce electricity from mechanical, chemical, thermal, electromagnetic (light), or another physical flux, or from a change of temperature, chemical composition, or a physical field: gravitational, magnetic, electric, mechanical stress and strain, etc. Flux examples are mechanical motions of air and water, surface waves and tides, heat fluxes due to a temperature gradient, solar light, and a chemical flux (such as humidity propagation in the atmospheric air or diffusion of salt in water due to a gradient of salinity at the mouth of a fresh-water river flowing into an ocean). Environmental changes are under-used in energy production, although people are exposed to daily and seasonal changes of the environment, which include changing air temperature, pressure, humidity, and composition, tidal changes of the gravitational field, and less periodic changes of the geo-magnetic and electric fields. Production of electricity without fuel from the environmental changes and fluxes requires a durable infrastructure for a cost-effective utilization of the "semi-perpetual" energy resources.
DOE Contract Number(s)
Department of Energy Subject Categories
24 POWER TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION
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