The Energy Matrix
A Science Ebook e-zine
Summer 200
9 Edition  
List of all editions

The Energy Matrix

The energy matrix examines the full spectrum of future energy sources and associated problems.  It is meant to be a thought provoking publication for students who will be our future technocrats, engineers, and physicists.  We will include concepts such as solar, DG, CHP and concepts that are not practical today such as ice engines.  Send Comments to



Solar and Wind Farms could pave the way for saver nuclear power plants

The US government and industry have proposed plans two build major solar farms in the southwest and major wind farms in the Midwest.  Though the effort to develop these non green house gas producing energy sources have been slowed by the recent great recession, they are still the wave of the greener future.  Since construction of this new power infrastructure is planned, the economic feasibility of the transmission of the power over a distance of about 1000 kilometers has already been accepted. This will require a new power grid that uses very high voltage AC or DC power lines.  

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Corn Revisited

A considerable amount of energy, usually from coal, is required to produce ethanol.  Getting heat directly from corn may be a better than producing ethanol with respect to global warming. For this reason, I found this email from a reader 

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Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Many US homes or homes the world over for that matter use heating oil which is essentially #2 diesel for heating.  Most people don't consider oil heat just one part of a hybrid heating system.  These homes are actually heated by a combination of oil and electricity. In the cold of Winter, homes with oil heat are heated by a combination of oil and electricity.  Even homes with no electric heaters are heated by electric lights, TV and other appliances.  In cold weather every watt of energy saved by energy saving light bulbs has to be made up for by burning more heating oil to keep the home at a constant temperature.  

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 Cost of Coal for July,08

The cost of coal varies greatly with region according to US EIA (Click toVisit Site)  The highest price coal is $130 ton (13000 Btu/lb) in Northern Appalachia and only $14 ton (8800 Btu/lb) in the Powder River Basin.  The Appalachia coal cost calculates out two 200000 Btu per dollar. The Powder River cost calculates out to 1.25 million Btu per dollar.

Diesel oil is about $5.00 per the 139000Btu in a gallon.  This calculates to 27,800 Btu per dollar. The most expensive coal is still over seven times cheaper than diesel or heating oil.

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US has System in Place to mitigate High Cost of Diesel in the short and long term. 

US energy policy must be responsive to oil price changes.  The new economic reality is that oil is now simply to expensive to burn.  Yet that is exactly what millions of Americans plan to do  this Fall, when they start using their oil burners to heat their homes.

All homes derive some of their heat from electricity; be it from lights, televisions,  or computers.  Oil, natural gas or propane furnaces provide the majority of home heating requirements.  Many US homes are all electric and have electric baseboards, electric furnaces as their primary heat source. However,  all US homes 
use electricity, and therefore they get some of their heat from electricity. It could be from a light bulb, a television or a computer.

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Index for all Editions


Combined Heat & Power (CHP) 

DC Power Grid

District Cooling

Ethanol Viability

Hybrid Cars

Ice made with Coal

Ice Energy Density versus Battery

Heat Storage


Natural Gas

Nuclear Energy

Solar Heat Storage in CO2

Solar Heat Storage in Water

Storing Carbon Dioxide

Stoves - Corn Burning

Stoves - Wood Pellet Burning

Stoves - Coal Burning

Tar Sand Oil


Yucca Mountain

















Energy Saving Light Bulbs
Continued from top left column

The replacement of incandescent light bulbs with energy saving  compact fluorescent or even more "efficient" LED lights, actually forces the consumer to spend more on heating oil than they saved electricity.  Even in parts of the country where electricity still costs more than diesel on a price per BTU basis, using scarce diesel fuel to replace plentiful coal, nuclear, or hydroelectric energy seems foolish at best.  Congress plans to outlaw incandescent light bulbs by 2014.  Many objections environmental and economic have been raised with respect to these new compact light bulbs.  See links below.


Actually light bulbs are not the best way to generate heat in the home.  A variety of space heaters are available at every hardware for converting electricity to heat.I am still concerned that congress is willing to legislate a shift from domestic energy to foreign oil.  Diesel fuel is far too valuable to be burnt heating homes, while it is needed by the trucks and diesel cars.  Burning diesel oil in homes simply helps in driving up the price of diesel.  This hurts truckers and drives up the price of everything.  It also seems to be causing unemployment.  Electricity production is essentially a domestic product and employs Americans.  It Provides jobs for linemen, electricians, coal miners, and those who manufacture turbines, generators, windmills, heat pumps and solar panels. Though switching from oil to electricity may initially require a higher reliance on coal, over time coal plants could be replaced by solar panels.  In ground heat pumps ( heat pumps with evaporator or secondary water/glycol loop in ground) could also cut electricity heating usage in half.  Note that digging the trench for geothermal system will require American or resident labor (equipment operators, plumbers etc.)

The infrastructure to transfer the energy from coal or nuclear power plants to homes is in place. American homes generally have one hundred or two hundred ampere service which is roughly the Btu equivalent of two or four gallons of diesel per day.


Department of Energy Data


Compact Fluorescent, Incandescent, and LED lights


Past and Future Editions




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