• Question: What Is The Best Way To Transfer Energy?

    Asked by danielleg to David, James, Mike, Suze, Will on 21 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: James Marrow

      James Marrow answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      It’s best to lose as little energy as possible when you move energy. We lose a lot of energy when we carry electricity through wires, and also a lot when we change it from one form to another. For example going from chemical energy (coal) to electrical by making steam is actually quite inefficient in terms of energy. It could be much more efficient to make electricity where we need it, but so far it is still most economical to make electricity in large power stations and to transmit it by wires. That could well change in the future.

    • Photo: Suze Kundu

      Suze Kundu answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      I guess it depends on what you are transferring to what as to how you could transfer it most efficiently. GIve us more details, or an example maybe, and we can give you a better answer in terms of a case study!

      James is right though. You want to lose as little as possible, as it’s useful stuff, energy!

    • Photo: David Ingram

      David Ingram answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      high temperature superconducting wires! They have very low losses, but at the moment are not high enough temperature for every day use. If you want to make your name in energy research develop a room temperature superconductor – you will be very very rich and/or win a Nobel Prize.

    • Photo: Mike Dodd

      Mike Dodd answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      Superconducting wires are differently the best way to transfer energy. They are used on an MRI magnet to create the magnetic field. Without them, it would be nearly impossible to image a person to look for cancer. However, David is right, at the moment, they only transfer current when they are at extremely low temperatures. Theoretical the coldest temperature in the universe is absolute zero, this is −273 degrees. To cool the superconducting wires down enough to work in an MRI machine, they need to be cooled to 2 degrees above absolute zero, -271. This is colder than anywhere that can be found on Earth! So as David said, if you can figure out a way to make them superconducting without lowing the temperature, then that’s a million dollar idea!