Energy Efficiency in Electronic Systems - Part One - What is Energy Effeciency

in steemstem •  5 months ago

Energy of all kinds is the most important resource, you can’t really do anything without transferring it in some way. For example, you eat food, run electricity through your computer, and use gas to move your car.






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The First Law of Thermodynamics


The first law of thermodynamics has to do with heat, energy, and work. Heat itself is a form of energy and can be used to do work. Gasses are a good way to show this, as they expand and contract with response to heat and pressure, which vary directly with each other. As a balloon rises in the atmosphere it expands, because there is less air (and thus concentration of heat/pressure) around it. This expansion does work on the surrounding gas by moving the gas out of the way. There are a few different ways objects and their environments can interact to change heat and do work. They all have their use, like cooling a refrigerator, or powering a car.

This works in reverse too, other forms of energy can turn into heat. On the smaller scales, every interaction is messy. Particles and molecules are flying all over, smashing into and bouncing off each other all the time. This means in every interaction, some of the movement is inevitably turned into heat. This can often be reduced by using different materials, but there is always some creation and distribution of heat when work is done. This is what makes perpetual motion machines impossible. This heat often builds up, doing nothing we would consider useful. This heat changes the properties of the materials involved and often has to be spread to the outside environment to keep the machines functional.

Energy Concentration and Usage


Energy comes in many forms, which all tend to be concentrated in some way. In the balloon example above, the energy is originally concentrated to the the air within the balloon, but because of the difference in temperature it expands until it cools down to that of the rest of the environment around it. This general theme doesn’t just apply to heat. Electronics run because a voltage difference forces electrons to move in an effort to balance it out. The only reason work is done is because a difference in energy concentrations exist. This means the usefulness of energy is tied directly to its concentration.

Concentrated energy tends to dissipate as it is used. Since energy cannot stay concentrated forever, all of the environment will eventually reach some sort of equilibrium. This means theoretically one day little to no work will be able to be done and all useful change will come to a standstill. This process can be reversed in part, a refrigerator can cool its insides without mixing itself with an outside source of already cool air particles. This also works in reverse, allowing us to concentrate energy in different ways. This bumps into the second law of thermodynamics, the total entropy of a system should never decrease. This means that as we concentrate energy, which creates order, we must allow more overall energy to mix with the environment (creating disorder) and become less useful. This means the total “usefulness” of a system is always decreasing. Efficiency is just reducing the decrease in usefulness as much as possible. [1] [2]

Energy Storage and Creation


Energy usage and energy storage go hand-in-hand. Using energy as soon as you create it is theoretically the most efficient, but there are other problems to consider. The sun doesn’t shine 24/7, it takes time to power up coal power plants, and who wants to be tied to the wall when using their mobile phone?

Humanity stores energy, or uses stored energy, in a variety of ways depending on its intended use. This is usually done through the concentration of potential energies of some sort. We have two main forms of this “fuel”, and “batteries”. Fuel burns in a chemical reaction and produces heat, which can be harnessed to move objects. Batteries typically produce a voltage difference on their ends, which can then be used to create an electric current. Both of these store energy within chemicals. Fuel and most common batteries cannot be reused, and is gone forever once used. Some batteries can recharge, and efficiently too. The problem is that the density of energy storage in these batteries is much lower than other forms of storage. For the same weight gasoline can hold around 60 times as much usable energy as lithium-ion battery. [3]

The power grid is an integral part of energy today. The power grid typically runs on fuel sources like coal, oil, and natural gas. To increase efficiency machines that are typically powerful, large, and complex are produced. These machines take a long time to turn on/off and lose efficiency while doing so. They are already not very efficient, maxing out at turning around 35% of the energy into usable electricity. Moving electricity also takes a lot of power, especially over longer distances. Keeping the electricity in the form of voltage and not current helps reduce this. The amount lost ultimately depends on how far the electricity has to travel, and averages out at a loss of 6% of the total transmitted (in the US). This doesn’t have much of a direct impact as power is pulled from the wall, but this is an important aspect of our global fuel sources. [4] [5] [6]





I know this post is more about basic topics, but I will be going into more advanced topics for this in the future. Including how these ideas of energy efficiency factors into computer systems and our global methods for production of energy.



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Cool a whole series! Will be good to see more posts from you =) It would be cool to dig deeper into mining crypto and how much energy it consumed but also if/how it might contribute to the drive of clean energy or something like that (pulling this out my arse, I don't know if that's a thing or not, but I guess it is?)

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if i go into the economics of it, I probably won't be getting steemstem votes so I will probably avoid it.

But to sum up what I would say, it would likely have the opposite affect. The point of crypto currency is "free-markets". "Free" markets promote short-term gain over literally everything else, and it turns out the worst possible situations in the long run come out of that. There is a reason we haven't switched to clean energy yet.

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Great article, I do think it is important to set the definitions in the beginning as you did! However, I do kindly disagree on your view of free-markets, cryptos and the use of clean energy.

Yes, in our current system, often we tend to support short term investments. This means that every clean energy solution should keep this in mind! If you make it cheaper to store energy, make it possible for people to make more revenue by selling the energy they produce and make it simple to use, the market will answer favourably.

Of course it is easier said than done but if we take a look at a few companies:

  • Energiestro : a French startup has been able to store energy at a fraction of the cost of lithium batteries using kinetic energy to store the surplus produced by solar panels and concrete:

  • Crypto-energy companies such as Power Ledger or Vlux are seeking to create microgrids where communities will be able to trade energy. Therefore avoiding the 6% loss you mentioned above and make more bang for the buck on the sell side and a better bargain on the buy side.

  • Moreover, although extremely late, many countries - especially islands i.e. the most vulnerable ones - are investing hefty amounts to go 100% renewable. So, yes our focus on short term profit is a huge hindrance but that doesn't mean that switching to clean energy is out of reach - we (just) have to make it profitable.

    Other than that, I can't wait for the whole series!

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    if you dont understand what im talking about this short book goes over it in detail with statistics and historical examples, although it is a little old and the system has become more complex since then.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/

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    I will give it a try because I like to understand different point of views. However, I believe capitalism has its benefits and that there is a reason there hasn't been a viable communist / marxist regime per se - at least not that I know of.

    Also, capitalism as we know it is facing a sea-change as the profit margins that we know are being attacked by different startups and technologies - such as blockchain.

    "wow thats a really bad idea. This will just lead to increased electricity production and market crashes." not so sure about that, it will increase renewable energy production that will be cheaper than today's price. it will change the current way we do things and might even shake the foundations of our current system but capitalism can adapt!

    I will post something - today or tomorrow - about the Blokchain technology's potential benefits.

    Thanks for the reply, keep up the good work!

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    "Also, capitalism as we know it is facing a sea-change as the profit margins that we know are being attacked by different startups and technologies - such as blockchain."

    capitalism must always search for new markets to stay in existence. Blockchains are based on the concept of exchange of money and not of production. Human labor is what produces all value, and all profits can only come from what is taken from the labor of workers. Every increase in profit is making that slice even thinner. Markets collapse when that slice gets too small, for either side.

    super profits are based on using imperialism to force extremely low wages on people in one part of the world, for the needed profit to keep investment alive, and then moving that profit to the "first world" in an effort to keep a supply of workers that are also able to spend their wages to keep the economy going.

    (It also makes imperialism easier, when you have raw resources and more complicated production separate)

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    "communist / marxist regime per se - at least not that I know of."

    Based on what you said there, I don't think you have an understanding of what communism or marxism are. Marxism is a set of economic theories mainly based on understanding capitalism, and not a system itself. (It is a system in the negative sense, as it seeks to abolish what exists today.)

    Communism is worker control of the means of production. I have a feeling most places you are thinking of, like Soviet Russia, were based on the ideals of what I would call "state socialism". The idea that using capitalist political structures will allow communists to keep power over the capitalists (sounds like a real smart idea, lol).

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    https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-anarchy-works

    actually there have been a ton that work.

    If it didn't work why would the US try its hardest to intervene with every country that tried it?

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    That's one of the easiest red-flags for people to be able to spot. If you're looking for something that works, look through the miles-long lists of things the government has made illegal.

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    imperalism is the highest stage of capitalism.

    Capitalism cannot function without sufficient inefficiency and profit margins.

    Capital accumulation means that short-term profit will eventually control all of markets under all but t he most extreme conditions. It's not just a "focus" its the literal base of capitalism

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    "Crypto-energy companies such as Power Ledger or Vlux are seeking to create microgrids where communities will be able to trade energy. "

    wow thats a really bad idea. This will just lead to increased electricity production and market crashes. There is a reason the gov takes control of specific markets. The gov controlling capitalism is the reason capitalism still exist today.

    Super-profits are needed to keep capitalism from collapse, that is what monopolies serve to do (especially the ones based on imperialism). The most powerful force under capitalism is investment, and through that the accumulation of capital. Anything that effects this accumulation must be controlled for a country to succeed under capitalism, because it is based on contradictions that will lead it to destroy itself.

    Being myself an engineering student, i had a blast reading your post. It somehow makes you understand better how things work and teaches you a lot. Hope to read from you again !

    Honestly I don’t think there’s anything more terrifying than entropy. Plagues, nukes, chemical warfare. That’s all nothing compared to the inevitability of the unusability of energy. Can there be a greater tragedy?

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    Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise? I thought not. It's not a story the Jedi would tell you. It's a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life… He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying. The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. He became so powerful… the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. Ironic. He could save others from death, but not himself.

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    That people never love.

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    Great blog. Green energy and more efficient means of producing it, is clearly what the future holds. It's just about continuing to improve techonology and break out of the hundred plus year hold oil, coal, and gas has on the markets. It's coming though - green is the future.

    Energy efficiency is a very important topic and should be further developed, streamlined and made available for the broad masses as soon as possible.

    hey I find the subject interesting but I have very little knowledge about all this and really this post has given me the desire to investigate to understand certain concepts in depth.

    Hi @anarchyhasnogods!

    I found your article regarding Energy Efficiency in Electronic Systems very interesting. This proved for me a very good read too! I have learnt few new facts also here! :)

    Wishing you a very happy time ahead!! :)

    It is not gainsaying that Energy is an all important resource needed to the day to day activities of man. Without energy a lot of things won't be functional.

    This is an interesting topic, I look forward to reading the ideas of energy efficiency factors as it relates to computer systems and other factors too.

    Well done @anarchyhasnogods

    Being as a electrical engineer i love this type information.

    Love the basic precursor. Can’t wait for the more in depth explanations. It’s been years since my last science class! Reposted and liked.

    Keep it up my man! The community needs more writers like u

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    Your comment is generic AS HELL but you're right.