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Research on Renewable Energy

March 24, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 12

Bette Hileman's Government Insights calling for greater research on so-called renewable energy resources was interesting (C&EN, Feb. 18, page 35). However, I was disappointed to see no mention made of energy conservation as an equally or maybe more important path to energy independence. The research necessary to make major improvements in conservation may not be trendy like the projects she cites, but it has the potential to make a far greater impact much quicker with minimal expenditures, as seen in two examples.

The first example is traffic control. More energy is wasted in transportation than any other part of the U.S. economy. Years ago, I read about research into automated traffic control devices, but little appears to have been implemented. How much research would it take to design traffic control systems to minimize the useless idling of internal combustion engines at red lights when no cars are coming in the other direction? This would produce great time savings for the busy population as well.

Second, large public buildings are incredible energy hogs. Most buildings have uncontrollable HVAC systems that are both wasteful and uncomfortable for many of the occupants. Cincinnati is at its worst in the summer, when virtually every public building is so cold that one must wear a jacket or other winter clothing even when the temperature outside is 95 °C.

D. Thomas Terwilliger



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