Power budgets was[Re: Understanding nanotech]

dan (dan@Clemmensen.ShireNet.com)
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 18:37:48 -0400

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> On Tue, 31 Aug 1999 ronkean@juno.com wrote:
[Referring to a single-family house in the U.S.]
> > [...] So when the two live wires are
> > each carrying 200 amps, which is what the 200 amp rating means, the total
> > power is 240 volts x 200 amps, or nominally 48 KW, assuming unity power
> > factor.
> >
> Eeek, someone who really understands how the system works. I stand
> corrected on the total possible power. I'd stick by my belief
> that most homes don't come close to using this (I suppose I could
> figure it out from my electric bill).
True, but household use of electric poser is incredibly inefficient. Most of this very-high-quality power is used generate heat and move heat around, Much of the rest is used to generate light at about one percent effciency. Given sufficient investment in sophisticated capital equipment, the energy could be reduced by a factor of ten or more to achieve the same results. We don't do this because the capital costs are too high, so it doesn't pay for itself. However, the equation changes with nanotech. You can implement massive heat engines, near-perfect insulation, near-perfect lightsources, and huge batteries for near-zero cost. This means that a typical household really will be able to use solar and geothermal energy, contributing zero net heat to the environment to achieve a lifestyle that is wildly luxurious by today's standards.

This means that in a nanotech world, each human will use effectively zero energy for lifestyle maintanence, so each human can use the rest of his or her energy budget for other projects.

If the energy budget is compouted to be constrained by global warming, then there is no true constraint: we can use lazers to beam energy into space to dump the heat. This is a violation of the second law of thermodynamics: The earth is not a closed system.