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Unused fiberoptic solar power

Get some work out of them.
  (+6, -8)
(+6, -8)
  [vote for,

This idea is roughly similar to the linked idea in that is uses fiberoptics and sunlight, as do many others on the HB. However this idea is practicable and much much better than all others combined. Consider the glut of fiber optics lying around in the US. Rather then send signals, these existing optic cables can be used for power transfer. I assert that there is no upper limit to the amount of light that one of these cables can carry.

Simple lenses will be built in desert areas where sun is plentiful and land is cheap. This power will be funnelled into the existing fiberoptic network and taken to powerstations located near big cities where the power is needed. I suspect that light conversion to electricity will be cheaper if the sunlight is concentrated first. The electricity generated can be routed along existing lines to the end users.

One benefit of this method for solar power is that it avoids the paradox wherein areas with enough cheap land and sun to make a lot of power are distant from populated areas, thus entailing costs and losses of power transfer along wires. Another is that it uses extant fiber optic lines. A third is that if a sewer worker found himself plunged into darkness, he need only break a single passing optic filament to bathe the sewer in light.

bungston, Dec 14 2004

Solar fiber lighting solar_20powered_20fiber-optic_20lighting
Similar, more ambitious. [bungston, Dec 14 2004]

Glut of fiber optic capacity http://www.usatoday...global-crossing.htm
[bungston, Dec 14 2004]

2000 watt laser transmitted by fiber http://www.uslaserc...com/envoy/fobd.html
[bungston, Dec 18 2004]

Fun with giant fresnel lenses http://www-personal...du/~bclee/lens.html
[bungston, Dec 18 2004]

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       For this to work, the amount of power loss per meter of fiber optic cable would have to be less than that for wire.   

       Also, the efficiency of placing the light into the cables, then extracting would have to be not be low enough to make capturing the light at the desert directly with the photovoltaic cells then transfering over wire more efficient.   

       I can't see this as being the case. Although, that statement is completely unfounded.
nomel, Dec 15 2004

       You've turned the "Let's use power cables for data" idea on its head!   

       "Let's use data fibres for power."   

       [nomel] fibre optic cables have 'total internal reflection' so 0% power loss, but as for: "I assert that there is no upper limit to the amount of light that one of these cables can carry.", well I dunno about that.   

       ...and what happens when our sewer worker breaks a 150 megawatt fibre?   

       bun +
not_only_but_also, Dec 15 2004

       //I assert that there is no upper limit to the amount of light that one of these cables can carry. // Assert all you want. That won't make you right. Especially on this one. [-]
zigness, Dec 15 2004

       There is an upper limit for the power a fibre can carry, as [zigness] points out, beyond which the fibre becomes damaged. If I recall correctly there are also wavelength limitations dependent on fibre diameter, material etc. I would guess that the //glut of fiber optics lying around in the US// is designed for telecommunications applications at a specific wavelength, and not suitable for spread wavelength applications.   

       But then it's been a long day and I may have missed the humour in this idea.
suctionpad, Dec 15 2004

       [not_only_but_also], you are correct, *perfect* fiber optic cables do contain all light. Also, the material the fiber optic material is not perfectly clear, so, there would be (and is) power loss. This is why they have to have repeaters for underwater fiber cables and whatnot.   

       [suctionpad], that is correct. If you make the fiber optic cable too large, then the photons start bouncing against the walls at sharp angles (google fiber optic transmission modes), spreading out the digital signal over time. I don't think this would be a problem for a constant stream of photons.
nomel, Dec 17 2004

       Excellently half-baked [+]. Re: "no upper limit", that calls for suspension of disbelief. Re: "Better than other HB ideas on this topic" you are quite correct.
sophocles, Dec 18 2004

       I started to wonder how much power could really be transmitted along a glass fiber. I assert unlimited power, but that is a lot. I did find links for 2000W welding laser, but I didn't have a good idea how much 2000W is - enough to weld, it would seem. Another link estimates 1000W in a square meter of fun, which was enough to destroy lots of things. In the end, I could not find an answer to how much power a fiber can carry.   

       These concentrated sulight fibers would be very dangerous to break.
bungston, Dec 18 2004

       Clearly the amount of light energy a fibre can carry is dependent on the energy absorbed by it and the energy it can absorb before its optical properties change.   

       Hmmm since Jim is able to speculate to his hearts content about god and the after life. I figure he would suggest that for there to be no upper limit the optical properties of the fibre would have to "improve" when energy is absorbed during transfer --- in much the same way that super conductors improve with reduction in temperature.   

       Jim chuckles, recalling that molton glass is opaque.
madness, Dec 18 2004

       The reason for the glut of fibre optic capacity is the rapid improvement in the technology involved in getting the signals into and out of the cable, not the cable itself.   

       These technologies include finer and finer separations of signals into different frequencies of light, and the ability to detect and decode signals from smaller and smaller amounts of light power, and fancy digital stuff I know nothing about.   

       Quite likely we're talking milliwatts, microwatts or less here, being the difference between a 0 and a 1. I can't see that pumping the cable full of megawatts of (literally) white noise is going to help things.   

       That said, I could imagine dedicated light pipes pumping power around - till [not_only_but_also]'s clumsy sewer worker lasered off his own head and started a fire that consumed eight city blocks.
BunsenHoneydew, Mar 30 2006

       watt/diameter much too low, cost much too high, humor ok. [-]
loonquawl, Apr 16 2009


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