Three Modern Technologies
In a world of increasing significance of numbers and progressing complexities that require creation of physical and virtual proximity, technology is seen as the only key to solution of the issue. Technology has made the modern times bearable and granted convenience in many occasions. Despite this relief, the twenty first century must look for a different technology, a technology that does not alter the ecosystem and environment detrimentally and the one that is an improvement of what is currently attainable. This paper discusses three such technology innovations i.e. solar thermal technology, solar cooling technology, and genetic modification of food.
Solar Thermal Energy Technology (STE)
In the recent past, the issue of environmental conversation has been of great concern for many economies. This issue is attributed to the use of sources of energy, such as charcoal, which cause significant impact to the environment by emitting poisonous gases like CO (Friis, 2012). With the increasing pressure from environmental conservation activists, countries have been forced to adopt eco-friendly sources of energy, where Solar Thermal Energy (STE) is inclusive (Hymers, 2006). This, STE, is a technology that binds solar energy for heat (thermal energy). Studies indicate that this technology is almost 100% eco-friendly, and households use it in several ways; pool heating, supplemental heating, solar cooling, and heating of domestic water (“Uses for solar thermal energy”, 2011). Despite the fact that most people use this type of technology, not much has been discussed on its development. Thus, the proposal aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the historical development of solar thermal energy, and how this information (the past) can be used to improve its efficiency (the future).
The earliest attempt to use solar energy traces back to the beginning of twentieth century. Then, people in China and ancient Greece made fire by reflecting sunlight using glasses. In 1913, the first solar thermal pumping station was developed in Meadi, Egypt by Frank Shuman. This system helped in distributing 6000 gallons of water (per minute) from R. Nile to surrounding homes (Martinez, 2010). In 1970s, the modern Solar Energy Generating System (SEGS) was developed and used to heat water at U.S’s state house for President Jimmy Carter. The success of this system led to the building of the first plant SEGS-1 in California in 1984, which operated with a parabolic trough solar collector system (Martinez, 2010). The SEGS plants have been operating successfully till 2003. Through a series of research and experimentations, in 2009, a solar thermal plant project (Andasol-1) was successfully initiated to convert solar radiation energy into electrical energy. In the recent past, Abengoa Solar Company created two solar towers, PS10 and PS20, which produce electricity in a stable and commercial way. The two plants jointly supply electricity to about 15500 homes and save 18700t of CO2 per year (Martez, 2010). In Israel today, 90% of homes use solar thermal heating.
The research will mainly focus on qualitative research design, with little concentration on quantitative research (Creswell, 2003). Here, the accuracy of the information will be prioritized. In collecting data, the research will integrate both primary and secondary data sources though more on secondary data that on primary data. Primary data collection tools will entail the use of experimentation. On the other hand, secondary data will be obtained through focus groups, interviews (particularly with the key contributors to the field of solar energy), field notes, and research-related documents. The research advocates for a wide range of sources in order to increase the degree of precision (Patton, 2002). The information on the final project will be published in a trusted website for quick access.
Expected Findings and Implications
The development of solar thermal was expected to be influenced by other renewable energy sources like geothermal energy, biogas, and electric energy. This implies that the developers of this form of energy must take into account the impact of other renewal energy sources on the design and success of new solar thermal energy systems. Moreover, though solar thermal energy is said to be eco-friendly energy, as the literature reveals, it is possible for its friendliness to fall below the not 100% mark, implying the need for further research on this field (Trainer, 2011). The collected data collected will be analyzed critically and used in identifying the limitations that are associated with solar thermal energy. This information can also be used to discover the best ways of improving the use of solar thermal energy technology.
Following the need to conserve the environment, many countries focus now on the use of eco-friendly energy sources. In an effort to study this technology, this paper has focused on the development of solar thermal energy, being one of the eco-friendly energy sources. The effort that is made so far is relevant, since not much information is available concerning this technology. In analyzing the technology, the paper has adopted a qualitative research design and integrated both primary and secondary data sources to enhance data accuracy.
Solar Cooling Technology (SCT)
In its essence, solar cooling is a type of air conditioning system that is based on the use of sustainable energy source. Engineers have been looking for the means of replacing the electric air conditioners with those that have sustainable energy source (Dincer & Mehmet, 2011). Solar cooling technology uses solar energy which is freely available in the ambient when there is sun during the day. Solar cooling is the most appropriate mode of cooling, since it uses cheap and sustainable source of energy, therefore, making economic advancement for the users. Despite the many challenges from the electrical air conditioners, solar cooling technology has not been fully utilized. Therefore, it is necessary that the technology was put into use to lower the carbon foot print in the long run to ensure that the use of the system is economically viable.
Much interest is centered on the use of solar energy in its application in cooling systems whereby absorption cycles are the key area on which that these systems work. This study analyses the use of thermodynamics for the different fluids that work best with the solar cooling system. In addition, some simulations have been used in the studies to analyze the performance of the system for the cooling cycle.
Though not yet commercially used, solar cooling technology still exists in many parts of the world. This technology utilizes the radioactive heat that comes from the sun. Cooling is achieved through vaporizing the coolant thereby helping to remove the unwanted heat from the building. The rate of cooling is directly proportional to the presence of the sun, that is, the hotter the sun is, the more effective the cooling system becomes. Photovoltaic provide power that is enough to supply any electrical device, such as cooling compressors, which would be efficient for electrical cooling methods (Chiras, 2002). For small residential cooling system using below 5 they are cost effective and, therefore, they become largely used for the space cooling (Scott, et al 2004). Electrical systems have poor efficiencies that are being avoided by the use of solar cooling systems. Solar PV is recent cooling method that is used in the cooling of the space by the engineers. Solar cooling requires the use of solar PV, therefore, requiring presence of sun during the day. The solar PV needs to have solar tracking systems and be used in the solar tracking.
Solar cooling systems that are used in the conditioning require efficient conditionings that require smaller and less expensive systems. A solar tracking photovoltaic system with 7 kW rating installed costs around $20000, but with the recent need in the world to include the use of renewable technology the prices are falling. This pricing is used to completely offset the prices that are planned for annual electric demands that are required to cover the running of the air cooling. Depending on the amount of energy that is required, the prices can be controlled and as a result be drastically dropped proportionally to the demand of the solar PV for solar cooling systems. Currently, there are phase-change coolers that use solar PV, therefore, ensuring that the pricing of the cooling system is fairly covered in reference to the demand for cooling. Solar cooling not only reduces amount of monthly bills but also eliminates the electricity bills that may be incurred due to space heating for air cooling and other refrigeration purposes.
With current world economy, the prices for the solar PV have been given subsidies on the selling prices so as to encourage buying of the solar PVs and, thus, initiate the price for the power falling down to around $0.15 per kWh. This price is cost effective, especially when considering the prices for other sources of energy to be above $0.15. Due to these pricing drops, there are more homes that need air conditioning and yet reduce the net electricity demand (H. Yüncü, et al, 2009). The main aim for using solar PV for cooling systems is effective reduction and lowering the requirements that a given building may need. This is deemed fair when considering the need to reduce the heating and cooling. Careful construction of the conventional systems needs to have efficient cooling systems that meet the requirements for the solar cooling.
Thermodynamic Steps Used in the Solar Cooling
The refrigerant that is used here must have a very low boiling point, less than -18°F. The process operates in such a way that when the refrigerant evaporates, some is lost, or it takes heat away with it thereby causing a cooling effect. The absorption cycle uses ammonia or water as the main refrigerant. The water or ammonia cycle cooling works the same, therefore, using the ammonia as the main refrigerant to cool the water and helps to eliminate the humidity that is present in the surrounding. When water spray refrigeration is used, the intake water is warm, so this ensures that there is moist air passed and sprayed in the system. The humidity in the region is significantly lowered, and as a result, this helps to significantly reduce the temperature of the surrounding. This is achieved when the humidity is reduced with help of evaporative cooler, which helps in re-humidification of air. This process is as shown in the diagram below.
The cooling process involves the use of liquefied ammonia that is passed through the evaporator at the level of room temperature and then mixed with hydrogen that is present in the vaporizer. Total pressure of the system is regulated by the application of the hydrogen pressure in the system. This, in turn, helps in the regulation of the vapor pressure and also the boiling process of the ammonia in the system. When the ammonia boils, it supplies the cooling that is needed in the evaporator. After the cooling process, the ammonia undergoes a series of steps until it is collected at the bottom of the system, and as a result it forms a cycle that allows the ammonia to be reused in the system. At the end of the process, there is pure ammonia gas that enters the condenser. As a result, ammonia gas that is hot from cooling condenses to a liquid thereby allowing the cycle to restart and the process is repeated.
History of Solar Cooling Using the Absorption Cycle
The process of cooling through absorption was invented by a French scientist Ferdinand Carré in the year 1858. He designed an absorption cooling system using water and sulfuric acid (Karaki & Wilbur, 1977). This design was advanced and developed by other scientists who worked hard in the development of the refrigerators. Solar cooling is used as the process that will help achieve and maintain the temperature within the room to be below the surroundings. The main aim for designing the cooling system was to help maintain the space temperature. The refrigeration system in the past was used for the preservation of perishable food products when storing them to have low desirable temperatures. The refrigeration systems were also used for providing thermal regulation for the human beings to supply a cooler environment (Prakash & Garg, 2008). This process of air cooling involves treatment of air to control the air temperature, its cleanliness, and its moisture content.
The process of air cooling process dates back to the use of refrigerants, compressors, and prime movers. In addition, the use of refrigeration methods is the challenge that led to the start and the invention of the refrigeration process. In 1806, Fredric Tudor began the trade of ice from Hudson River and other ponds in Massachusetts and exporting them. This, therefore, dates the use of the refrigeration processes that competed with the nocturnal cooling that produced ice. From these technologies the current solar cooling has been developed by the current engineers to design a more sustainable and reliable source of energy. Therefore, the use of solar cooling system uses a cheaper sustainable source of energy.
Positive Aspects of Using Solar Cooling
Despite many challenges that the renewable energy sources face, it has a number of positive impacts that are available for the use in many designs. These advantages include the fact that solar power is a sustainable source of energy, and, therefore, it is a cheap and free source of energy for use in cooling. Another advantage of using solar cooling is that solar is freely available and, thus, can be stored and used during the times when there no sun. According to Kreider & Kreith (1975), solar cooling provides a much “greener” source of energy with little or no environmental pollution aspects. This is in the sense that solar energy does not have any carbon emission to the ambient and, therefore, provides a clean humidity reduction. Other advantages of solar cooling include the presence of the solar-assisted cooling, which is compared to the use of conventional cooling of the space. In addition, solar cooling ensures that there are no harmful CFC’s that might be present in the air in the building that is being cooled. Lastly, use of solar cooling ensures that there are lower fuel bills, thus, helping to save electricity usage.
Negative Impact of Solar Cooling
Despite many positive impacts of using the solar cooling systems, there are a number of drawbacks that are associated with the use of the use solar cooling system. These include the fact that solar radiation is only available during the day, and, therefore, at night, there is no solar power. Another drawback that is associated with the use of solar cooling is that during the cloudy days, sun is not available, and, therefore, solar power cannot be tapped during such times.
The world’s energy demand is increasing, and, therefore, heating using the solar energy is a more reliable as a source for space heating. Since the technology is not fully covered in the market, there is a need to have the adoption of the technology in the long run to encourage many people to use it. Another issue that has to be considered is the need to use the absorption cycle as the major means of the solar cooling, since it encourages safety for the user and the environment. Unlike other sources of space cooling, solar cooling provides a safer means of cooling, and, thus, if more people invest in the use of solar cooling, the rate of economic value for the use of the technology will be viable in the long run.
Genetic Modification Technology
Genetic modification involves a process of deletion or insertion of genes in food substances (Flachowsky, 2005). This method requires several essential factors like the promoters and means, in which the gene can be stopped. For quite some time, there has existed an economic war that started to own equity in firms that have means to regulate not only GMOs but also the vast extents of human food deliveries. This has remained the behind-the-scenes factor for some of the major and rapid agrichemical firms’ mergers in history (Environmental Protection Agency).
Therefore, if one has recently taken a soya sauce from Chinese restaurants, munched popcorns in any movie theatre, or spoiled in an occasional chocolate bar, one has undoubtedly ingested genetic modified food. At that moment, one may have known exactly how much fat, salt, and carbohydrates there were in these respective foods, because regulations directed their labeling for dietary reasons. However, one never knew whether the bulk of these foodstuffs and if literally every cell had been genetically changed.
In 1980s, the United States agricultural industry began a dramatic study of advanced molecular biological research. It was unclear whether the study was to involve a wide variety of products. The administration of President Reagan decided to draft new regulation frameworks that were based on the old statutes. However, the frameworks introduced some doubting challenges. The existing statutes were old and more unfit for modern technology, and it required much effort to twist them into the required shape. The statutes that were hence introduced dealt with drugs, food, plant pests, new chemicals, and pesticides (House of Commons Science and Technology Committee). New rules have continuously been made, but overall, they have created a contorted and often weak system of administration.
For example, the Food Drugs Administration (FDA) is mandated to oversee the genetic modification of GMOs under a voluntary consulting program. Still, it is the companies that decide whether or not to consult on the safety matters or if there is any data to submit. However, the engineering foods are not subjected to the rigorous process of safety, as required by law. Finally, the consultation ends not with the FDA’s approval but with a statement from the company that they have discovered a safe engineering crop, and the agency cannot ask further questions about it. On the other hand, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandated to ensure that the strongest regulations are maintained. However, its authority is only on a selected subset of Biotech crops, especially the ones that can be categorized as pesticides.
The hybridization phenomenon has worked excellently in the commercial realm and has been a major application of the gene theory. Just the way factories are created with the aim of maximizing profits, the assumption is that living organisms can also be created in the same principle. What is wrong now is the advancement in genetic engineering (Maessen, 1997). It is with no doubt that with this process, there is a situation where the conscious life of organisms will be manipulated (Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration). To understand this, one has to use an analogy. When biotechnology is used, roses are not crossed with roses but rather different organisms are mated with others. For example, butterflies are mated with worms, tomatoes with oak trees, while orchids are mated with snakes. This process essentially introduces a violent chemical reaction that alters the nuclear membrane of the cells (Engdahl, 2006). If this technology is allowed to spread, there will be widespread of such externality as cancer-related diseases. For instance, in the 1950s, few people agreed that chemical pollution could be a global environmental harm, but today, 30% of all species are threatened with extinction.
Nowadays, there are over fifty genetically modified crops that are commercially allowed in the United States. Herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant crops are among those that have succeeded in the market (Dris & Jain, 2004). Some virus-related crops like papaya and squash are cultivated on a small scale. However, most products that are found in the markets are not commercially modified for food crop. These include the first genetically modified food crops like altered oil canola and other engineered tomatoes and several BT crops. The BT and HT crops have gained more popularity in the US farming and have been adopted in large scale.
The public has the right of full disclosure of the type and quality of products which they are about to buy. According to Morgan (2002), there should be enough information about genetically modified foods, so that every consumer is aware of the level of danger to which he/she is being subjected. Some of the reasons that make manufacturers and marketers fail to reveal the required information is:
- Difficulties in evaluating the safety level of food substances in case of a single chemical or drug. Food substances are more complex to identify their composition, as they vary in agronomic and growing conditions.
- There are few publications available for toxicity of genetically modified foods. A consumer is supplied with many options of GM substances, but the data that is available is not sufficient. Currently, the toxic level is tested by chemical analysis of the micro and macro nutrients. However, better methods are needed in order to supply the users with adequate information.
Unknowingly, a consumer can take these foods and develop metabolism problems. On this note, better methods are needed to screen the harmful consequences of human and animal health before releasing any genetically modified crops into the consumption food chain.
It has been said that the engineered crops have saved the world from the danger of hunger epidemics, but people are left with more problems than solutions regarding the future of this trend. Since not every consumer opt for consumption of the GMO substances, the manufacturers should have a way of creating awareness to them either by providing full information about the product or proper labeling of these products (Rasko & Ankeny, 2006). The efficacy in commercial production should not be assumed but fully tested to determine the exponential increase in GM development and research. By neglecting constructively to find the future position of GMOs, people may be inventing another problem like the current environmental conservation problem. Crop engineers and their host companies should follow the rules and regulations that are set aside by the government to enhance the safety of their end users other than the rush to declare crop inventions that will finally be a world catastrophe.