Among the earth’s resources,geothermal energy is probably the most overlooked. It’s strange,too, considering that it’s available almost everywhere, isamazingly efficient, produces a steady stream of heat year round, and isnon-polluting. What if we could combine this renewable resource withnon-polluting technology, like the Stirling Engine? Why, we’d havea very effective way of getting all the power we need!
So, whatis geothermal energy? Below the crust our earth remains liquefied. Thismolten rock is extremely hot and continues to warm the crust. In fact,four feet under the ground, the soil stays at 50-55 degrees year round.The temperature gets warmer the deeper you go. Many houses usegeothermal heat pumps to keep the temperature wonderfully comfortable atvery little cost. To top it off, there are no harmful emissions into theair or water!
And this Stirling Engine thing, how does it work?Well, it’s very simple. This machine runs on a balance of heat andcold that compresses and expands gases in a chamber. These changes inpressure push and pull on the pistons, causing it to run (you can learnmore here). No gasesever enter or leave the chamber like in an internal combustion engine(the kind that runs automobiles). That means the Stirling Engine, likegeothermal heat, doesn’t pollute.
So, how can thesetechnologies be combined? First, you need to run pipes deep into theground, where they can get the warmest, most stable heat. Then fillthose pipes with a mixture of water and possibly antifreeze. Run thosepipes past the part of the Stirling Engine that requires heat, and thencool off the other part with water from another source. Once the enginebegins to produce energy, it can run generators, supplying a reliablesource of power.
Of course, as with everything, there are bugs towork out, but I’ll leave that to the professionals. This is justan idea of mine inspired by the need for alternative sources of power.That’s what we need, after all: new ideas to improve lives and ourearth. There are so many wonders that remain hidden, or wonders thatjust haven’t been put to proper use. If we just consider all thepossibilities, we can change the world.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.