New Energy

Technology promises there will always be something slightly better just around the corner. So what's in store for us tomorrow? Here are some alternative energy technologies that might play a role in Ontario's energy future.

Fusion Power
Ontario's nuclear reactors create heat energy by splitting apart the nuclei of uranium atoms. This is called nuclear fission. The enormous energy in the sun's interior is created when the nuclei of hydrogen atoms are joined, or fused together. This is known as nuclear fusion. Scientists have been trying to copy what the sun does naturally, right here on Earth. Recently, scientists in Europe managed to create a brief burst of energy through nuclear fusion. This raises hopes that this source of energy might be in use by the year 2050.

Coal, gas, oil and uranium=m are all natural sources of energy. They are non-renewable energy sources because it takes the earth millions of years to replace them once present stores have been used. On the other hand, sunlight, wind, falling water and growing plants are all energy processes that continuously renew themselves. That's why they're called renewable energy sources.

Vroom-Vroom Power
Supplies of crude oil won't last forever, so researchers have come up with a couple of other ideas. The first is to make synthetic oil from abundant supplies of coal or natural gas. The second is to change engines so they can burn other fuels. For instance, racing cars run on a type of alcohol called methanol. And many city buses in Ontario use propane or natural gas. One day soon, your family might even be able to buy a car that can use either straight gasoline, neat methanol, ethanol or some type of combination.

Hydrogen Power
Hydrogen could be the wonder of fuel of the future. Water is full of it. To get hydrogen out of water, scientists simply run electricity through the water. And it's clean. When hydrogen burns, it combine with oxygen to make water again! Ontario is experimenting with hydrogen fuel cells that can provide electricity to communities that have not access to the electrical power grid. Research is also being done on hydrogen fuel cells for cars. In future, you might fill up your car's fuel tank with water, then plug the car into an electrical outlet overnight. The electricity separates the hydrogen from the oxygen in the water. These two gases are then stored and fed into a fuel cell that provides electric power to the car. Talk about a clean, energy-efficient car!

Peat Power
Have you ever held a lump of shiny, black coal in your hands? It's difficult to imagine that it started out millions of years ago as a pile of dead plants that got buried and then squashed. After a long time and lots of squashing, the plants fused into a solid lump of brown peat - the first step in the formation of coal. Today, peat is burned in many parts of the world. Canada has some of the largest peat beds in the world, but because they're so far away from where most people live, they might not be the first choice in alternative energy sources.

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