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When you think of water as a source of energy, you likely think of hydroelectric energy. Hydroelectric energy is produced through the force of falling water. Around for literally thousands of years, the capacity to produce this energy is dependent on both the available flow and the height from which the water falls. Building up behind a dam, water accumulates potential energy. This is transformed into mechanical energy when the water rushes down the sluice and strikes the rotary blades of a turbine. The turbine's rotation spins electromagnets, which generate current in stationary coils of wire.

Finally, the current is put through a transformer where the voltage is increased for long distance transmission over power lines. In some areas of the United States, hydroelectric plants satisfy over 50% of electricity demands. er as a source of energy, you most likely think of hydroelectric power.

But scientific research is one the verge, hopefully, of producing a new form of energy from water. And believe it or not, we have cancer research to thank for it.

Cancer researcher has found a way to burn salt water, a novel invention that is being touted by one chemist as the "most remarkable" water science discovery in a century. John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies it would burn.

The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel. Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, has held demonstrations at his State College lab to confirm his own observations. The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said.

Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said. The discovery is "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years," Roy said. "This is the most abundant element in the world. It is everywhere," Roy said. "Seeing it burn gives me the chills." Roy will meet with officials from the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense to try to obtain research funding. The scientists want to find out whether the energy output from the burning hydrogen - which reached a heat of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit - would be enough to power a car or other heavy machinery.

Saline and brackish water is common - normally it poses a problem for fresh water supplies. Several technologies, however, can take advantage of saline water for energy production. These include solar ponds and algae production. Solar ponds use the salt water in such a manner that heat from sunlight is effectively locked in the pool and can be used for a number of process heat applications or electricity production. The ability of the pond to store solar thermal energy is unique and overcomes the resource variability that is a drawback of traditional solar development.

Salt water algae's grow prolifically under cultivated conditions and can be pressed to extract biodiesel feedstocks or dried and burned for power production. Although neither technology has been demonstrated beyond pilot levels, Texas is fortunate in that regions with saline water resources also tend to be very sunny. If coupled with ongoing fresh water chloride control efforts, exploitation of the saline water resource for energy production may be possible for only a modest additional investment. Clearly this is one potential energy breakthrough that could change the way we look at carbon energy, and hasten our leap from our dependence upon it.

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