Engineering/wild ideas

  • Electric car batteries when not in use as a distributed power storage network for a city/community Lovins, 94
  • Building efficiency is a big waste of energy, people would fix their own if they knew how much. How can we make thermal scans/cameras more accessible such that people can scan for energy loss easily?
  • Anti-smoking campaign was comprised of top-down (science, regulation) + bottom up (knowledge about secondhand smoke leading to community action). Can a similar approach be applied to climate change action? Louv, 254
  • Electric cars pull a lot of load; how do we manage the charging of each electric car so that we don’t create a new energy peak?
  • Gas-fueled internal combustion engines might be a more efficient way to get energy into a car for some time to come. American energy is largely oil-produced; the tradeoff of miles per gallon of gas directly in the car vs. through an electricity generation process and transport through the grid is comparable– about 38mpg for an average electric car in 2008 (p27). With this in mind, one challenge is to improve the efficiency of the gas-powered combustion engine. Such projects are underway, e.g. DiesOtto by Mercedes-Benz. Smil, 28
  • What’s a better energy storage solution than Lithium-ion batteries?
  • Reduce the power consumption of an electric car, or increase the ramp-up speed of bringing additional (sustainable) power online to bring about mass adoption of electric cars
  • A big reason why new nuclear plants have been expensive is that the laws changed while construction was already underway. Another (relatedly) is that they don’t follow a standard design. There may be an opportunity to greatly reduce construction cost and time by designing and implementing a standardized nuclear plant now that regulations are more settled.
  • Devise a good/safe/reliable method for storing a small volume of highly radioactive waste to be sequestered for thousands of years. No country has one yet. Smil, 43
  • How can we futureproof our infrastructure? E.g right now, we are dependent on gasoline for cars even though there may be other ways to cheaply deliver energy in vehicles. What infrastructure are we currently building, and how can we enable it to adapt to technologies we will want to use 100 years in the future?

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