Imagine cars that have a mileage of 500 miles a gallon and machines with an efficiency of 100% or maybe even greater. All these machines could work by powering themselves from energy all around. A car could have a generator to collect energy from the wheels spinning, a windmill on the roof collecting energy from drafts of wind, solar panels collecting energy from the sun. All this energy collected could then be transferred back to power the same machine or used elsewhere.
Machines that constantly run on their own after being started are called perpetual motion machines. Many scientists have tried to build such machines, but it is believed to be impossible due to the amount of energy that is lost in factors such as friction, sound, heat, etc. But instead of trying to build a machine that keeps running on its own, why not try to increase the efficiency by reducing losses and capturing all possible energy? After all, “Energy saved is energy produced”.
When I first studied about friction, I thought it is essential in life, but the more I learned about energy losses, I realized the potential without it. Modern gasoline engines have an efficiency of 25% to 30%; meaning that even when the machine is operating at its maximum thermal efficiency, 70% to 75% of the energy released is forsaken as heat and valuable energy is wasted. Modern electric engines (Used in Electric Vehicles) have an efficiency of 80%. Although the efficiency of the electric engine is greater, there is still that 20%.
When we are using bigger numbers and start considering these percentages in an industrial environment, such as today’s modern electrical grid, where there are huge engines used to power entire cities, twenty percent is a lot of energy lost and more energy means more money. Today, 85% of power plants use nonrenewable sources such as coal, to generate heat and convert it into pressure to spin...