71 % of the earth’s surface is water, and Human body consists of about 50-65 % water. It is no secret that explorers search for water on other planets because water is most essential element for living organisms. But water is not only necessary for the existence of life, it is also essential for most of the industrial process, and also most important part of the production of energy.
Interesting Facts of Water
Water on earth is formed 4.5 billion years ago, but it never gets old because of its property of recreating itself. Water is the only element on earth, which is found in all three states– Solid, Liquid and Gas. When water vapor is cooled it becomes water and when further cooled it becomes ice, not the interesting thing– while cooling water vapor, its density starts increasing, it keeps on increasing till -4 degree Celsius, after that its density starts decreasing, that’s the reason ice floats on water. Its property of surface tension allows it to flow through the steams and blood vessels. Water is referred as ‘universal solvent’ because it can dissolve more substances than any other solvent on the planet. Being pH value 7, pure water is neither acidic nor basic, that’s why water is referred in many philosophies as the most neutral thing. You must have heard that water conducts electricity, but pure water doesn’t, that’s what ‘neutral’ means.
Water has High Specific Heat Index, which means it has good capacity to absorb heat, hence widely used as a coolant in heat pumps, generators, vehicles, manufacturing factories, etc. Because of its cleaning properties and cheap availability, it is used for cleaning purposes in industries, restaurants, hospitals, gas stations, laundries, dry cleaners, barber shops, golf courses, hotels, car washes, beauty shops, and health clubs.
Water currently being the most important element in our life, it can also solve the major problem we are going to face in the future– Need of Energy Source. Presently, conventional energy sources like coal, petroleum, natural gas, etc. serves our major part of energy consumptions. But its limited quantity is forcing scientists and engineers to search for new energy sources. Some of the genius minds do claim water as a future source of energy.
Power Generation By Water
When water is related to electricity generation, we think of only hydroelectric power generation where motion of water is utilized to rotate the turbine. But the interesting fact is, even in other power generation types like, coal, gas or nuclear power plants, water is converted into steam to rotate the turbine, hence, major part of energy which we get today is produced by water only. Back to the track, there are few other less known ways of producing electricity from water, on which research is still going on.
This may sound new way of generating power, but scientists are using a special kind of plastic to use the vibrations created by rain drops to generate power. The power generated is very low, but it can be used at heavy rain-fall areas and unlike solar power, it can be used at nights too.
In this type of production, heat from deep inside the earth’s crust is used to convert water into steam, where steam further is used in power generation. In some places, because of seismic activities, water naturally gets flowed near geologic hotspots and steam is generated, in processes like this no extra efforts are needed to generate steam.
Energy from ocean
Ocean possesses very high amount of energy, it can be utilized in two major ways;
Because of moon’s gravitation, the sea level periodically rises; generators which can trap the potential energy difference between high tides and low tides can be constructed.
Assembling underwater turbine is other way which uses kinetic energy (flow of water) to generate energy. These turbines are also known as Underwater Windmills, because its working is very similar to windmills.
Other Key Roles in Electricity Production
Many new biofuels need more water than traditional biofuels, according to a source, it is estimated that in US 8 percent of the freshwater will be utilized just to produce biofuels.
In the hydraulic fracking, water is poured deep in the ground which creates cracks and allows engineers to access the trapped oil and natural gases. In this process a lot of water is required, but if the extent of trapped oil or natural gas is high, this process can be proved as a conventional way.
The most effective way of getting energy from water is by utilizing hydrogen from water. Hydrogen in power cell uses oxygen to produce electric energy. But right now it is very difficult to use this phenomenon in practical application because to convert water into molecules of hydrogen and oxygen requires a very much amount of energy too. Because the energy produced by hydrogen is less than the energy needed to separate hydrogen and oxygen, today it is not conventional to use water directly to generate electricity. Research is going on to simplify the process of converting water into hydrogen and oxygen so that it takes less energy and will be efficient enough for using as a power generation method.
This application will be highly used for vehicles as vehicles driving on hydrogen have more efficiency than electric cars which runs on chargeable batteries.
It can be concluded with no hesitation that in many ways, water is supporting our life and our future and water exists on earth’s maximum portion, but still in many parts people find it difficult to live because of water scarcity. Moreover, because of pollution, ecology is changing, and areas having rain as a main source of water is experiencing infrequent rain. At such places, water is transported through vehicles and pipelines. But what if we could just produce water from hydrogen and oxygen elements wherever and whenever needed? In the above section we have learned that water can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen, while giving a lot of energy off course, we can reverse the process and produce water. But, because hydrogen is a combustible and oxygen supports combustions, this process produces lots of energy, a lot of it. Experiments have been conducted to confront the results, but blasts occurred damaging all the experimental instruments, with of course producing water! Researchers are continuously searching for the better methods for better results.