energy sources

Science fiction follows the laws of thermodynamics. It’s a distinguishing difference between science fiction and fantasy. We could argue about this but I don’t want to. Instead, I’d like to discuss how to acquire, store, and make use of energy since this is a big part of science-fiction world building. So how are you doing it in your fictional world? What cool ideas do you know of for getting and storing energy?


Intriguing… obviously you get energy by sucking the souls out of humans and putting them into plastic containers… xD


Given water, and nitrogen (free in earth’s atmosphere), and electrical power, you can crack the water via electrolysis and make ammonia via the Haber process.

Today we usually use the Haber-Bosch process to produce our hundreds of millions of tons of fertilizer, where we crack natural gas instead of water. It uses slightly less energy, but wastes the natural gas and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so it’s ecologically harmful. If you crack water instead, you can do it without causing damage.

Ammonia has a lot of uses. One of them is that it can be burned in combustion engines running generators later, for power. The output is Nitrogen and water. Rinse, repeat.

So it works like a battery of whatever size your tankage makes it, with similar efficiency losses in conversion both ways. But with well-maintained tankage there are NO losses of power over time the way you get in batteries. You can store ammonia for years and have just as much as you had when you stored it.

If you’re doing this on Earth in the near-future, it’s a nice way for municipalities and utilities to do deeper load-leveling than they’re capable of now; they can bank power in April that they’re going to need in August when everybody turns their airconditioners on. It’s also a nice way for people to get some use out of variable energy sources like wind and solar, where the amount of power produced at a given moment may not match the demand for power at that same moment.

If you bank “too much” power, Ammonia is valuable as fertilizer and you can make a profit selling it without going through the inefficiency of conversion back to electricity.

If you’re doing this in some habitat off earth, nitrogen and water are things they’ll have enormous need for and enormous tankage for anyway, and they are equally valuable for other purposes whether or not they are in the chemical configuration that also stores energy.

Finally, Ammonia produced this way is carbon neutral, and if it’s spilled it evaporates and disperses into nontoxic molecules within a few hours (depending on the amount spilled and how much environment there is to contain it of course). It is, however, lethally hazardous for that first few hours.


Laugh. XD

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Totally cool. I’ve been using hydrogen in my story–from water–but ammonia would be easier to store and transport.

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Small wonder I’ve been feeling so listless as of late.

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Thermodynamics is such a basic rule of nature that I can’t actually think of a fantasy story that ignores it.

I see a lot of stories that ignore these laws. If the story as a shapeshifter and the mass of the person changes when they shift but there’s no indication of where the mass comes from or goes, then the law of conservation of mass is being ignored. It’s also common to ignore entropy, even within stories which are called science fiction. This comes in with using humans as either an energy source or a food source. Since humans need food and some energy will be lost to entropy, this setup won’t work. It’s better to use the food or energy directly without first feeding it to humans. Also ignoring the the laws of thermodynamics are “post scarcity” utopias.
Fantasy isn’t necessarily expected to follow the laws of thermodynamics. Instead it works best for the magic to have some sort of cost–it might not be entropy. Maybe we can do another discussion on the costs of magic.

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Ooooh suspicious… better go eat some chocolate, been told that heals the soul

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Use a black hole. You shoot light an an stabil orbit around the hole. The gravity will make the light go faster and when you catch it it has more energie. ^^

You could suck out the energie out of an other universum.

Also Helium 3 is an old school by now i think.

I’m not following how this works. Something falling under the force of gravity is energy but stopping it and pulling it out takes energy, so you end up with less than you started with. I must be missing something. It’s also unclear to me how you can have light going faster than the speed of light.

If you can take energy from another universe, I believe it would be considered the same universe.

This is something that I’ve wanted feedback on in my science fiction novel.

In it, I make use of the well known pop-culture device warp drive, and further, of the real world physics theory of Alcubierre drive.
I feel like the way I handle the technology in the book may be a bit vague, amounting basically to that “oh we have this amazing new tech somehow.” I do make some basic descriptions of the technology, but only enough for describing events in the plot.

To be fair however, Alcubierre drive is a mere footnote in my larger story, existing only as a vehicle for the characters to get to the plot. I would like it though if my story approached more realistic science fiction, and because of that, I’ve tried to stay within the rules that I’ve established for the technology in the narrative.

I would appreciate thoughts on if I should change this.

My fantasy follows the follows the laws of thermodynamics

Seems to me you’ve got a good handle on this. No need to change.

Some fantasy does, but it’s not expected to. How does your fantasy handle the acquisition, storage, and transport of energy?

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the laws of my world are the same as ours, that simple
just a run of the mill fantasy with no magics as the systems are always to…magic
and that idea in itself annoys me and turns me away from most fantasies
cant make something out of nothing, cant get energy out of nothing
i masquerade low key science as magic sometimes but thats just because the people of my world have lost scientific knowledge and dont really understand the bits they have
sorry for crashing the thread
just the distinguishing difference caught my attention XD


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How do they heat houses, cook, and eat? What do they use for light at night?

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