Energy is the driving force behind the progression and endurance of society. Without it, important innovations such as starships, weapons, and lifesaving medical equipment would never have occurred. Energy is derived from many classical, modern, and experimental sources.
All particles in the universe have a corresponding antiparticle with the same mass and spin, and some particles (such as the photon) are identical to their antiparticle. When a particle and its antiparticle meet, the result is the creation of energy and/or other matter -- an electron and positron collision, for example, releases pure energy in the form of gamma rays, while the collision of a proton and an anti-proton releases gamma rays and neutrinos (a particle that has almost no interaction with other particles). The force of the result of the interaction can -- depending on the particles -- be harnessed by pistons to run a generator or directly channeled to make lateral thrust. The unique quality of a matter-antimatter reaction is its power: a single reaction between two particles can create unparalleled energy, although the exact form of this energy (as pure energy or a combination of energy and other particles) depends on the particle pair used.
Unfortunately, antimatter is very rare in the universe, having dissipated over the universe's lifespan (there is more matter than antimatter in the universe). Advances in technology allow for the (relatively) fast manufacture of antimatter, but at a net loss of energy--the amount of power put in does not equate to the amount of energy put out. Therefore, antimatter is only a viable option when a nation requires lots of energy quickly but can afford to lose overall power in the long term.
Antimatter reactors are expensive and have high operating costs because of their incessant need for antimatter, which limits their use for only the affluent.
See more: Wikipedia:Antiparticle
Energy in plants and animal waste can be harnessed. The most common way to capture the energy is to burn the container (trees, grasses, oil plants, and other crops) to make heat, steam, and in turn electricity. Noncombustion processes involve thermochemical (heating of product, not burning), biochemical (enzymes that break down the biomass into energy), and chemical (conversion to energy through a chemical reaction). Biomass energy is renewable and follows the carbon cycle: the carbon dioxide released as a byproduct of energy conversion can be reconverted into carbohydrates, which are stored energy, by plants.
Biomass energy is rarely cost-effective when compared to other sources: it contains less energy per gram. No plants have been identified that contain a favorable carbohydrate to mass ratio, but certain probes into the forests of La Terre have yielded some favorable returns.
A rock that burns. It has a high amount of carbon by weight and is made by ancient plants and animals accumulated in moist peat concentrations. Over the course of several hundred centuries the carbon mass in peat is pressurized by other deposits and forms coal. There are four ranks of coal from least to highest quality: lignite, subbituminious, bituminous, and anthracite. Coal is burned when it is pulverized and ignited in a furnace. The water running in an adjacent pipe boils, producing steam which is then converted into electricity through a turbine.
Coal is horrible for the environment because it is particulate-dense, especially in sulfur and carbon. It is, however, efficiently and easily burned. The heat that is not captured by the water can be redirected to other uses, such as the heating of nearby installations. This is called cogeneration.
Poorly-developed nations lacking in technology may depend heavily on coal as an electrical and heat source. Emissions that are normally damaging to an atmosphere can be ignored if the planet has no atmosphere at all, such as Ungstir or Luna. Therefore, coal is cost-effective and makes sense for only certain nations.
The heat from the layers of hot and molten rock underneath the ground can be harnessed by geothermal power plants. This thermal energy boils water pipes that run deep underground, which produces steam. The steam runs up toward the surface through narrow pipes at superfast speeds which turn turbines. The turbines produce electricity. Another method is to tap hot springs that exist on the planet's surface.
Moving water spins turbines that produce electricity. The amount of electricity that can be generated as a function of time is dependent solely on the speed of the water. Some hydroelectric power plants use gravity as a way to increase the force of the water. Others only use the natural flow of a river as the force. The environmental impacts of hydropower can be grievous. Fish and other natural oceanlife is impeded from natural movement. When a dam blocks a river, a river habitat is replaced by a lake habitat. This sudden shift in the environment can create drastic changes in the biology of the area.
The environmental impacts of a large hydroelectric power plant can be immense. But while hydropower has its problems, it is still a safe, sustainable, and often renewable source of energy. Some scientists view hydroelectric power plants as a lesser evil to coal or nuclear.
Natural Gas Edit
Like oil, natural gas is a product of decomposed organic material. Gas is often found mixed in with oil, or floating on top of underground reservoirs of oil. Natural gas is, surprisingly, a natural form of gas. It occurs naturally underground and is piped out, often in conjunction with oil. Natural gas may be used as a light source by controlled burning, but it is often found in conjunction with other methods to generate electricity. In a combined cycle turbine, for example, hot natural gas is streamed to drive one turbine, then used to boil water that drives a second turbine. Combined gas turbines can be over 75% efficient at converting gas into electricity, compared to about 50% for steam turbines.
Although natural gas is a fossil fuel and so mostly made of carbon, it produces significantly less carbon emissions than coal or oil.
Nuclear Fission Editatoms, splitting them (a process called fission). The split releases neutrons from the uranium that in turn collide with other atoms, causing a chain reaction, which can be controlled. This release of neutrons produce thermal energy that can be channeled into steam and then electricity. Although uranium is a simple atom, a standard reaction can be over four hundred times as powerful as coal burning.
The nature of uranium is there is a small amount of binding force, making fission easy. This weak intramolecular force contributes to why uranium is radioactive--that is, it slowly decays over the course of several decades, eventually ending up as lead. Uranium cannot be reused, and the created nuclear waste cannot be readily disposed. Because of technological advances in other fields, nuclear power plants are a rarety; geothermal and solar are the two main methods of energy production.
Nuclear Fusion Edit
The field changed with the discovery of polydenum. Harnessing the latent nuclear reactivity of polydenum, the new breed of fusion reactors use temperature instead of speed as a catalyst to allow nuclear fusion to occur. Fusion is cleaner than fission. When compared to cheaper and more reliable energy methods, fusion reactors only make sense for starship-based power plants.
Fusion reactors using both hydrogen isotopes and polydenum as their reactants (fusing of both together with temperature being maintained by the latter) are the norm for starships.
A versatile substance. Oil is formed in a fashion similar to coal. Dead plants and animals are trapped underneath miles of rock, where anaerobic bacteria breaks them down into basic hydrocarbons. Onced formed, oil is held in permeable rock deep underground. This crude oil can be siphoned up through various methods and refined into different types, from antiquated gasoline to heating oil--it can then be translated into electricity by generators and motors. Substances derived from crude oil are called petroleum products.
Crude oil, if misused or miscontained, is grossly damaging to the environment. Refined oil, when used, often emits carcinogenic or otherwise harmful gases such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur. It is therefore avoided by most developed countries, who instead sell crude oil to less-developed nations or keep their oil deposits untapped.
Polydenum is a naturally-occuring substance found deep underneath the crust of planets, usually at or slightly below the mantle. It occurs in veins or cavernous chambers. Because of its intense depth, the formation of polydenum is still keenly under research. The widely-accepted theory is intense pressure that transforms molten planetary shale into an intermediate solid, which is then converted into polydenum by bacteria (a process that may take a millennium). Crude polydenum is an opaque, reflective goo. Refined polydenum is less viscous and has been described to take on a pale color. There are many types of refined polydenum, which are distinguished between latent energy and purity.
The main use of refined polydenum is to power a starship. Fusion, fission, or combustion engines and reactors can harness the characteristics of polydenum (such as high explosive potential) and make extremely clean, efficient, and powerful energy. There is virtually no waste generated from the usage of polydenum. Because of its value, polydenum is closely sought after and an extremely useful commodity.
There are two ways to collect solar energy. Photovoltaic cells, culminating in the twenty-fifth century after years of development, can capture nearly 75% of the energy that falls upon it. They are the preferred method of modern energy generation because they directly convert solar energy into electricity. Thermal concentrators, on the other hand, utilize mirrors to focus solar heat onto water, which produces steam that can be run through a turbine to generate electricity.
Because solar energy is so abundant, readily available, and universal, it is the most commonly used method of energy production within the nations of OtherSpace. Its proliferation has risen from 7 percent in the twentieth century to nearly 80 percent in modern times due to technological advances.
The concept and practice of wind power is very simple. Wind drives a turbine which is elevated above the ground by a tower. The turbine is connected to a motor or transmission linked to a motor that generates electricity. Aerodynamics research has led to wind turbines that can produce more electricity than coal, but its basic viability hinges on the speed and duration of the wind. It is therefore keenly unreliable and only used in specialized areas where wind is frequent.
Fuel Cell Edit
A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device that converts hydrogen and oxygen into water, producing electricity and heat in the process. In OtherSpace, fuel cells are considered a norm for regular household use. They act as efficient batteries, and the byproduct can be used for other means. Hydrogen must be transported in containers, but oxygen can be sucked in from the air. When compared with other sources of energy of equitable size, the fuel cell is one of the least powerful in terms of energy output.
A similar fuel cell uses the electrons present in the hydrogen atoms of water to generate electricity. The hydrogen can then be passed through the fuel cell and returned to form water once again. The advantage of this fuel cell over normal ones is that it requires only water as a reactant--water that is then returned. Because electrolysis fuel cells are significantly less efficient than regular ones, they become only cost effective if very large, making them unpractical for household use. The energy output, however, frequently does not justify the size.
Special thanks to Gadget for this information.