We were brainstorming on ideas for the up-coming EETimes Digital Edition on Alternative Energy (mark your calendar: it debuts June 7th) and I realized after just a few minutes that it's really hard to discuss Green and Alternative energy without raising political hackles.
That it's political is nothing new and the political affiliation of Al Gore, the poster boy for 'Green', doesn't help. However, I was struck just how politically charged the whole topic can quickly become even if you're addressing it from a purely engineering point of view.
For example, the topic is alternative energy. While alternative energy usually means solar, wind, hyrdo-electric (dams or waves), for the U.S. it's pretty much anything that isn't coal or oil derived, including, nuclear energy. The 'other' alternate energy source.
To even suggest writing about the state-of-the-art in nuclear energy engineering, I risk getting shunned as it would imply that I advocate the use of nuclear power. Maybe I do. Or maybe I don't. (Go to end of blog for my answer, if you're curious.) My point here is that I'm pretty sure that even writing about it is akin to beckoning hate mail.
I personally find the technology interesting and am looking forward to finding out two things: Where it's at with regard to safety and where are the opportunities for electronic engineers looking for an 'alternative' job.
Another option includes a look at a personal favorite of mine: energy harvesting. It's come a long way, but mostly thanks to the function/joule advances in processors that result from Moore's Law, instead of any really startling breakthroughs in solar, vibration or thermal conversion efficiency.
There are many other options for us to explore, from battery-powered vehicles to biofuels, from ultracapacitors to energy distribution and the smart-grid .
However, my question to you is: What do you want us to look at and examine? Where do your interests and concerns lie? Let us know by emailing our Digital Edition editor and ultimate decider, Nic Mokhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for nuclear energy, politics aside, I definitely see it as a strong alternative to oil and coal, with a pretty stable track record. As for the waste, I wonder if anyone's done the calculation as to how much energy would be required to blast that waste into space and would nuclear still be profitable after that's factored in?