Ask the Superexpert about Electricity & Energy Efficiency
Have you ever wondered why shoes hanging on a power line don’t get fried? Or whether cars could someday run on cow manure? Now you can get answers to these and all your energy-related questions. Just Ask the Superexpert!
The Superexpert answers new questions regularly, so check back to see if YOUR question is up!
I once saw a pair of shoes hanging from a power line. Why didn’t the shoes get burned up by the electricity in the line? —Will
By the way, if you ever see someone throwing shoes up onto a line, tell them to stop! The shoes can damage the power line, or someone trying to get the shoes down could be seriously shocked or even killed.
Yes! Manure can be made into a gas containing methane. (Methane is the same energy-rich gas found in natural gas.) Certain types of bacteria emit this gas as they consume manure collected in special air-free tanks. The mixture of gases produced in this way, called biogas, can then be used in some modified car engines instead of gasoline, or burned in a boiler to generate heat or electricity.
Organic waste emits methane as it decomposes—or rots—in the landfill. Landfills can collect and treat the methane and then sell it as a commercial fuel, or they can burn it to generate steam and electricity. Today, there are almost 400 gas energy landfill projects operating in the United States.
One lightning strike can carry 100 million to 1 billion volts. That’s the equivalent of between 8 and 80 million car batteries!”