Natural gas, mini-nuclear reactors to solve energy crunch?


I have an obsessive problem where I do all kinds of crazy things to reduce my household’s energy consumption and reliance on foreign oil. For example, I got solar panels on my house and have recently been recharging my Prius (I had it converted to a plug-in hybrid) off the sun. That is a way out there kind of thing. To put it mildly, it puts me in the kook category!

But we have the opportunity to make a big difference in how much oil we import because of a lot of things that touch on the traditional.

Take natural gas, for example. New extraction techniques mean we now have access to a massive supply of this clean-burning fuel. In fact, it’s like we have as much natural gas as oil-producing countries have barrels of oil! But wait, there’s more; natural gas can be used to run certain cars and doesn’t need to be refined like oil to make gasoline.

I had a Honda Civic GX for a year and a half that ran on compressed natural gas. It drove like any other car in terms of horsepower and performed beautifully. I only sold it when the price of a barrel of oil hit $147 in the summer of 2008. I was in the sweet spot to sell it at a substantial profit because of the frenzy over gasoline topping $4 per gallon.  

But the idea of a natural gas vehicle works, at the very least to run delivery vehicles and package delivery services. That could really help reduce our dependence on foreign oil from nations that would do us harm. Plus, natural gas burns clean, much cleaner than dirty coal. Natural gas just has so much going for it.

Then you throw nuclear power in the mix. I’ve been a longtime fan of nuclear, which I know makes me crazy in people’s minds. But there’s a new technology for mini-nuclear plants that can be built cheaply and quickly to provide power. We’re not talking about the massive nuclear plants of yesteryear; these are little teeny reactors and they’re catching on over in Europe. But we’ve got deaf ears here in the United States, unfortunately.

Not all of our problems will be solved by my kooky strategies. My point is it will take a combination of reimaging old technology like nuclear power and getting energy from sources we didn’t know we had so much of like natural gas. And then who knows what else?! We just need to enlarge our horizons and open ourselves to new possibilities. It sure beats feeling like a sitting duck when the price of gasoline and oil bumps up!

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