H OLIDAY G IFTS • S USTAINABLE P RODUCTS & S ERVICES • D ELICIOUS F OOD
T HAT ’ S N ATURAL ! V OLUME 3, I SSUE 9
D ECEMBER 2006 Look for Specials only in That’s Natural!
A F EW W ORDS A BOUT H YDROELECTRIC E NERGY When most people think of electricity, they think of Thomas Edison and his light bulb or Benjamin Franklin flying a kite in a lightning storm. Not many people think of Nikola Tesla. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember hearing too much about Tesla in my high school. It’s too bad, because he has done a lot for us. So why am I talking about this Tesla guy in an article about hydroelectric energy? The answer is simple. When Tesla was a young boy in the Lika region of the Austrian Empire (present-day Croatia), he saw a picture of Niagara Falls. According to the legend, he said he would go the United States and convert the energy in the falls to useful energy. That’s right; before electricity was even around he had dreams of hydro energy! Okay, electricity was around, but at the time, it came in the form of small DC power sources that were just novelties. By 1896, Tesla’s dream came true. With financing from J.P. Morgan, John Jacob Astor IV and the Vanderbilts, the Niagara Falls Power Company
had constructed a 75 MW hydroelectric power station using his three phase alternating-current generators. His inventions are still in use today. In fact, his design for hydroelectric energy generation and distribution has not changed much since 1896. Hydroelectric energy is generated by converting the potential energy of stored water at an elevation to electrical energy using a hydro turbine and an electric generator. Water is fed to a turbine through a pipeline from a reservoir or to the base of a dam. The mass of water creates pressure at the base of any given height of water. This being said, higher elevations of water create higher pressures. Pressure of the stored water is used to turn a hydro turbine and in turn, a generator. The generator induces a voltage in a coil of wire by passing a magnetic field through it. Hydroelectric energy is a renewable energy. Contributing Author: Thomas Rupprecht
No resources are used up in the generation of hydroelectric energy. It takes about a pound of coal, on the other hand, to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity. Also, it produces about 2 pounds of CO2, this is what is harmful to the environment in unsustainable quantities. Hydroelectric is more efficient. Fifty to sixty percent of the energy in coal is lost as heat waste. This waste does us no good! Look for more on what we can do coming in January...
Thomas J. Rupprecht served as Nuclear Propulsion plant operator onboard the U.S.S. Florida, a U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarine, from 1999 until 2003. Mr. Rupprecht is currently an undergraduate engineering student with an electrical specialty at the Colorado School of Mines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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