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As mentioned in the prior post, volcanoes are covered under emergency disaster concerns- and it is not so much the heat from lava that is a concern in Alaska but rather the results of natural combustion!  In other words, it is the ash from the intense volcanic heat that creates a problem for machinery and people’s respiratory system.

On the other hand, from a energy point of view, volcanoes can be a renewable energy source.  Or more directly, a geothermal renewable energy source.  Usually we think of hot water reservoirs or transfer of differential heat via fluids flowing through wells or underground tubing as ‘geothermal’.  Believe it or not though, hot layers of the Earth in volcanoes can be used to generate electricity in volcanic active areas. Turbines creating thermoelectric generation often do so by catching the hot vapors venting upward or in cases where there may be hot rock, introducing water to create steam can spin a generator (yet such cases are rarely exploited in the U.S.)

Living on the Pacific Rim, along the Ring of Fire, Alaska has neighbors who are exploiting this resource.  New Zealand and the Philippines are a couple.  Our polar neighbor Iceland has been focusing on how to take the heat on what amounts to their old magma flow island!  Such energy is considered ‘renewable’ in that the earth has ever producing internal heat to draw from.  And also because it does not produce combustion pollutants such as fossil fuels; yet there are precautions due to the innocuous gasses that can also come forth.  Now, if there was a way to use the lava flows from eruptions as thermal storage….

 

 

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