The National Aqueduct is designed to transport an unlimited amount of desalinated water from the coasts to anywhere in the country. Powered by Universal Energy as it is designed conceptually, it can deliver on that promise. But like many of the systems included within this framework, the National Aqueduct is not a one-trick pony. It has a second function, and that is to generate additional electricity and function as a battery to store solar energy. Now it might sound strange at first to consider a nationwide array of water pipelines a “battery” of any sort, but the reality is that modern technology gives us the ability to perform that exact effect.
By taking advantage of three aspects of the transportation system: surface space for solar power, water flow for hydroelectric power, and water heat for thermoelectric power, we have a platform in which to build external electricity production and storage systems. Best of all, like energy plants, these systems can work together symbiotically, presenting additional benefits.
To explain how, we’ll go through each of these three aspects in order:
Surface space for solar panels. Universal Energy calls for water transportation pipelines to be built at the side of roads or under currently existing long-distance power lines. That is because this land is usually state-owned and doesn’t require an additional cost to purchase, and also because it’s pre-cleared out of obstructions. But as this benefits solar roads, it also can do the same for water transportation pipelines. If you recall from the last chapter, water pipelines are designed to be installed in prefabricated arrays, which comprise a relatively flat surface. So, what if we were to cover that space with solar panels? That exact result is the final intended form of water transportation pipelines, as shown by the following image:
This stands to generate a massive amount of electricity across the thousands of miles pipelines would travel, which alongside solar road networks, can help reinforce a redundant, smart electric grid.
How much electricity? Let's assume solar-enabled water transportation pipelines had a surface width of 10 feet. Multiplied by a mile, that's 52,800 square feet. As this surface wouldn't require a glass covering for vehicle traffic, the latest solar panels could be used. A Sunpower E19 solar panel has a peak output of 320 watts and a surface area of around 17.5 square feet, coming to roughly 18.3 watts per square foot. At peak output, a mile of solar pipeline surface would generate 966,000 watts. At 5.5 peak sun hours per day, that comes to 5,300 kilowatt-hours a day, or 1.94 million kilowatt-hours per year - enough to power 177 homes. Across thousands of miles of water transportation lines, the solar panel functionality of water pipelines can power millions.
But that prompts a relevant question: why use solar roads at all if we can put solar panels on water pipelines? Because solar roads function ideally in towns and cities, whereas water pipelines would function better in less-populated areas. A downtown metropolis isn’t going to have above-ground water pipelines at the side of roads, and most water pipes in cities are below ground (or in the case of Solar Roadways, in future conduit channels). On the other hand, solar roads are least justifiable from a price to energy standpoint in rural areas, whereas the opposite is true with solar-enabled water transportation pipelines.
Over time, this framework holds that solar roads and solar-enabled pipelines would be adopted in entirety, but at the onset, that both technologies respectively shine where the other does not is especially beneficial for our purposes. This is all the more true once other power generation methods are considered.
Integration With Wind Turbines. A notably absent renewable technology from the Universal Energy framework thus far has been wind. And to be fair, wind’s absence in the framework isn’t so much absent as it is fashionably late. That’s because like solar, wind’s utility is limited considerably by distance and other environmental factors. The capability of road panels to generate solar power made solar the natural candidate to pair with LFTRs as road work in cities costs a king’s ransom and can offset their expense, and their ability to pair with water transportation systems is simply icing on top.
But that latter part also applies to wind, and it does so in a big way. Wind power boats its greatest strengths in open, windy terrain, which effectively is the majority of our highway networks nationwide. As Universal Energy calls for heated water to be pumped alongside these networks, underwriting a secondary electric grid that works in tandem with solar roads, wind power can plug directly into this system on-demand.
On the wide, open expanses of rural states, this can generate a tremendous amount of electricity that conveniently has a centralized location for both transportation and storage. Additionally, wind used in this manner can also take advantage of the public-land benefit of highway deployment, sparing the need to buy new land which reduces wind's operational costs while increasing its overall efficiency.
Internal hydroelectric power. With solar panels on top of water pipeline arrays, the pipes themselves could be fitted with internal turbines to generate electricity from the water flow. Hydroelectricity is highly effective as a power source, and by miniaturizing turbines within prefabricated pipeline arrays nearly every aspect of the water transportation process can be harnessed as power. This is already occurring today through inventions made by a company named Lucid Energy in Oregon, which has installed modular turbine assemblies within prefabricated water pipes to generate electricity:
Across pipeline arrays that travel for thousands of miles, water flow would generate electricity 24/7, and would further electrify the entire Aqueduct. To what degree is speculative, but the potential generating capacity would be massive, many times that of the Hoover Dam, perhaps maybe even hundreds or thousands of times greater. But unlike other hydroelectric power stations, this method is environmentally friendly and 100% reliable, as opposed to man-made reservoirs like Lake Meade (that powers the Hoover Dam), which today is rapidly depleting due to global water scarcity.
Hydroelectric features are the first component of the Aqueduct’s “battery” function, as it works at night whereas the pipeline’s solar cells only work during the day. Yet that solar functionality doesn’t have to be wasted, either, which is where the hydrothermal aspect of the Aqueduct comes into play.
Hydrothermal power. As water has a high specific heat, once it gets hot, it stays hot for a long time. At the scale of billions or even trillions of gallons, water stays hot for an extremely long time – days, weeks even. One of the key functions of an Energy Plant is to keep water hot when it comes from a multistage flash distillation facility, and in turn pump it hot. But after it’s pumped through the National Aqueduct, water will eventually cool once it reaches far-away destinations. To fix this, we’ll need to rely on the two methods mentioned before.
By using the excess energy of solar roads, pipeline-mounted solar arrays and internal pipe turbines, we have the energy necessary to keep water hot throughout the entire Aqueduct. This is beneficial for three important reasons:
First: water will reach its destination hot, sparing the energy needed to heat it within residential and commercial hot water heaters. By virtue of the Aqueduct’s control component, not all water would need to be delivered to residences at high temperature, but the fact remains that it can arrive hot at any given time. This gives municipal water supplies more flexibility in how they route water, as well as save lots of money on heating costs.
Second: keeping water hot also prevents any chance of water freezing within the pipelines during winter months. It also prevents snow from covering the pipeline-mounted solar panels in winter, allowing for residual electricity generation year-round.
Third: if the entire Aqueduct were heated, this would store a tremendous amount of energy that could be converted into electricity, acting functionally as a battery – the world’s largest by far. Let’s say for example that we would store 500 billion gallons throughout the National Aqueduct, and let’s say we heat that water to 200 oF. Using the worksheets provided by the helpful folks over at Engineering Toolbox, we'll conclude that 1 gallon of water at 200 oF contains 1,660 BTU of energy. Across 500 billion gallons that comes to 830 trillion BTU, or 875.7 billion megajoules. That's effectively a volcano.
Converted into electricity, that's 243 billion kilowatt-hours from heat energy alone. Combined with the hydroelectric and solar functions of water pipeline arrays, it's easy to see how generating trillions of kilowatt-hours over time via the National Aqueduct becomes feasible. To put that in the proper scale, take another look at the nationwide road map we saw earlier:
If each one of these lines represented arrays of water transportation pipelines with solar functionality, hydroelectric functionality and hydrothermal functionality, we’d be generating a level of energy that words just don’t give justice to. And when combined with LFTRs and solar roads, the amount of energy we could be generating defies the bounds of present-day imagination. As adoption of Universal Energy's technologies increases from there, the multiplier effect accelerates until we're not just reaching the energy targets needed to synthesize unlimited resources - we're leaving it in the rear-view mirror.
Because that’s the point, really. Unlimited energy must truly mean “unlimited.” The same with “unlimited” resources – no matter how much energy or resources we consume, the framework must always produce more at a rate faster than consumption. That is what Universal Energy is designed to do because that is how we destroy resource scarcity – by actually destroying it, as if it were our eternal arch-nemesis. Because it very much is.
With the National Aqueduct explained in full, we have now solidified the placement of three arrows in our quiver: electricity, water and fuel, and we have them to an extent where their indefinite abundance is at our command. Goodbye drought. Goodbye dustbowls. Goodbye water-borne disease. Goodbye water scarcity. And from there, goodbye famine.
Because as we can use unlimited electricity to produce unlimited water and unlimited fuel, we can then use all three to produce unlimited food.