Elec-trickery? In the eponymous British children’s television, a magician called Catweazle finds himself transported from the 11th to the 20th century, and all sorts of things like motor cars, telephone (“telling bones” as he call them) and electricity (“electrickery”).  Now, in the 21st century, we find ourselves wanting to keep the power going without ever-increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide, OK in the days of the dinosaurs, but the Sun was not quite so luminous then. So here are some informative videos I have watched recently on efforts to achieve this.

1  Thorium

Future of Thorium Reactors and Nuclear Energy

This video on the YouTube channel Grizzly Engineering I found full of information.  For one thing, I learned that although Thorium-232 is not fissile, on absorption of a neutron it rapidly transmutes to Protactinium-233 which, with a half-life of about a month, transmutes to Uranium-233, both of which are fissile. However, not everything is plain sailing. There are many informative comments to the video, and this article Thorium power has a protactinium problem - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists discusses the matter of the by-products being used for weapons, and there is an short comments section.



Related is this web page Protactinium generator from the UK organization CLEAPSS – Supporting practical science in school and colleges:   It contains this gem:  “We are advising schools against making their own protactinium generators.   We recommend schools buy their protactinium generator from Philip Harris, or alternatively buy the gas mantle half-life apparatus from Cooknell.”


2: Two Gamechangers?

Here, from the channel Just Have a Think, are two interesting videos. 

Have we found the missing link in the energy storage equation?

Manganese dioxide flow batteries may offer a very cost effective way of bridging the gap between short duration lithium-ion batteries and longer duration technologies like hydrogen. But can they be produced at commercial scale?

(Note: he pronouncers the surname of one of the authors, Gençer, as if it were French, but it is in fact Turkish, and for English-speakers a good approximation is (hard G) Gen—chair.)



Decarbonising AMMONIA production. Could a revolutionary new process be the key

Ammonia is produced in large volumes each year and is in constant use in industries like agriculture, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. But it also has great potential as a fuel source, if only a way could be found to produce it without the huge carbon dioxide emissions it currently creates. Now a team at Monash University say they've found an economically viable way to do just that.

(Monash link: World-first discovery could fuel the new green ammonia economy - Science)



3:  Electricity

Here is a wonderful channel: Kathy Loves Physics&History (list of videos). Much of its content is related to the history of our understanding an application of electricity and magnetism, but other fields get a look in also. Here is a good starter:

Ohm’s Law: History and Biography

A biography of high school teacher Georg Ohm. How Ohm wrote his law, why it was hated and how it become accepted in scientific communities.