More than 16 years after chemistsí claims to have created a
star in a jar imploded in acrimony, the US government has said it
might fund more research. Mainstream physicists still balk at
reports that a beaker of cold water and metal electrodes can produce
excess heat, but a hardy band of scientists across the world refuse
to let the dream die.
The US and Japan are leading attempts to tap this source of
fossil fuel buried beneath the seabed and Arctic permafrost. A
mixture of ice and natural gas, hydrates are believed to contain
more carbon than existing reserves of oil, coal and gas put together.
Sunlight heats trapped air, which rises through a giant
chimney and drives turbines. Leonardo da Vinci designed such a power
tower and the Australian company Enviromission plans to build one.
Despite being scaled down recently, the concrete chimney will still stand some 700 metres over the outback.
Turns nuclear power in its head by combining atoms rather
than splitting them to release energy copying the reaction at the
heart of the sun. After
years of arguments the world has agreed to build a test reactor to
see whether it works on a commercial scale. Called iter, it could be
switched on within a decade.
No longer a dead duck, the hopes of engineers are riding on
bobbing floats again. The British company Trident Energy recently
unveiled a design that uses a linear generator to convert the motion
of the sea into electricity. A wave farm just a few hundred metres
across could power 62,000 homes.