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经济学人:玻璃房里的镜子

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Science and Technology

科技
Solar heat for oil wells
用于油井的太阳热
Mirrors in glasshouses can be used to heat stones
玻璃房里的镜子.....可以用来加热石头
THERE is a lot of energy from ancient sunshine stored in the oil that sits below the deserts of Oman.
在Oman的沙漠下面埋藏着石油, 这些石油中储存着来自远古太阳光的丰富能量。
There is also a lot of sunshine hitting those deserts today.
在今天, 也还是有大量的太阳光照射在这篇沙漠上。
A new wrinkle to an established technology should allow some of that current sunshine to be employed to get at more of the ancient stuff.
一项已经成熟的科技的新应用能够使用现在的太阳光来得到更多的古老东西。
Using heat-in the form of steam-to liberate disobligingly thick and gunky oil which would otherwise stay in the ground is nothing new.
利用热--以蒸汽的形式--来释放埋在地下的油腻的稠油已经被人们熟知。
Such enhanced-recovery techniques date back to the 1950s and 40% of California's oil production now depends on steaming subterranean rocks in this way.
这种强化开采技术可以追溯到20世纪50年代, 现在加利福尼亚40%的石油产出都是依靠这种方式来蒸馏地下岩石。
The steam, however, is made by burning other fossil fuels-normally natural gas-and because heating rock takes a lot of steam, making that steam takes a lot of money.
然而, 蒸汽是需要燃烧其他燃料来产生的--一般来说是天然气--因为加热岩石需要很多的蒸气, 那么制造这些蒸汽的成本就会很高。
It also adds to the oil's climate footprint.
这也增加了石油的气候足迹。
The amount of gas used means that a barrel of Californian heavy oil gives the stuff from Canada's tar sands a run for its money in terms of associated greenhouse-gas emissions.
就相关的温室气体排放来说, 所使用的燃气的总量意味着一桶加利福尼亚重油和从加拿大油砂中提炼的油的排放不相上下。
GlassPoint, a small Californian company, thinks it can make steam for oil recovery more cleanly and cheaply by using sunshine to do the heating.
加利福尼亚一家小公司GlassPoint认为自己能够利用太阳光加热使蒸汽更清洁更便宜。
This sounds surprising.
这听起来让人吃惊。
Solar-thermal power stations, which employ mirrors to concentrate sunlight on boilers and thus raise steam to generate electricity by turning turbines, are far from cheap compared with gas-fired stations.
太阳热发电站利用镜子将太阳光集中到锅炉上并因此产生蒸汽推动涡轮来发电, 这与燃气发电站比起来一点也不便宜。
But solar-thermal electricity faces exacting challenges.
但是太阳热发电正面临着让人兴奋的挑战。
To feed a turbine you need particularly pure steam, which can be a problem if you are in a desert.
为了能够推动涡轮, 你需要特别纯净的蒸气, 如果处于沙漠地带那么这将是个问题。
And to get the most out of the system you need the steam to be both very hot indeed and available in copious amounts.
为了能够充分的利用该系统, 你所需要的蒸气温度必须十分高并且可利用的数量十分充足。
Oil wells, GlassPoint's founders noticed, are far less demanding consumers in these respects.
GlassPoint的创建者们发现, 在这些方面, 油井就不是那么挑剔的消费者。
The steam used can be comparatively dirty. Nor does it have to be infernally hot.
其所使用的蒸气可以很脏, 温度也不需要达到非常高。
And even a small amount of it, added to an existing gas-based recovery process, can make a useful contribution.
而且哪怕是向已存在的基于燃气的开采过程中添加一点蒸汽都会产生很大的效果。
There are, though, disadvantages to having to work in an oilfield.
但是, 在油田中利用太阳光加热产生蒸汽还是有不利之处的。
People building solar-thermal power stations prefer sites low in dust.
建造太阳热发电站需要位于灰尘密度较低的地方。
Those serving the oil industry must go where the rigs are, however dusty and mucky the air.
那些服务于石油工业的设备必须在钻井平台上, 但是那里空气肮脏。
GlassPoint seems to have found a neat solution to this: it puts its mirrors indoors.
GlassPoint似乎找到了解决这一问题的有效方法: 将镜子放在室内。
Greenhouses are easy to buy, quick to erect and, thanks to off-the-shelf kit designed for the purpose, simple to keep clean, too.
温室容易购买, 并且由于是普遍的套件设计, 所以安装快速, 保洁简单。
Moreover, sheltering the mirrors from the wind allows those mirrors to be a lot lighter, making them both cheap to build and ship, and easier to turn in order to follow the sun.
另外, 由于镜子避免了暴露在风中所以镜子可以更轻便, 使得镜子的生产和运输成本更低并且也更容易随着太阳的位置变动方向。
GlassPoint's boss, Rod MacGregor, thinks that taking capital costs and the lifetime of the plant into account his firm can produce steam at $3.78 per million British thermal units (btu), which is $3.58 a gigajoule.
GlassPoint的老板Rod MacGregor认为如果把资本成本和工厂的生命期算在内的话, 他的公司可以以每百万英热单位(btu)3.78美金的价格生产蒸汽, 即十亿焦耳3.58美金。
Steam from gas comes in at $5.79 per million btu.
燃气生产的蒸气则达到每百万英热单位(btu)5.79美金。
A pilot project in California, he says, has been producing steam as intended since the beginning of the year.
Rod MacGregor说从今年年初的时候在加利福尼亚的实验性工厂已将开始按计划运行生产蒸汽。
And the company has now signed a deal with Petroleum Development Oman for 7 megawatts of plant-a 16,000-square-metre greenhouse providing some 57 billion btu of steam a year.
现在公司正在为Petroleum Development Oman设计一个年产7百万瓦特的工厂--一个16000平方米温室, 每年生产大概570亿英热单位的蒸气。
If it pans out, the technology could spread fast.
如果该设计交易成功了, 那么这项技术将会快速传播。
Mr MacGregor expects Oman to be using 200 trillion btu of steam a year for oil recovery by 2015.
MacGregor预计到2015年Oman每年用于采油的蒸气将达到200万亿英热单位蒸汽。
Not all of that steam could be solar, but a system which used high-pressure solar steam during the day and low-pressure gas-generated steam by night, to keep the pipes hot, might get 80% of its power from the sun.
尽管不是所有的蒸气都是太阳能生产的, 但是白天使用高压太阳能生产蒸汽, 晚上使用低压燃气生产蒸气来维持管道高温的系统可能其80%的能源都来自于太阳。
That would free up a lot of gas for export-or for turning into petrochemicals.
这样可以节约出很多燃气供出口--或者转而应用到石油化工中。
Enhanced oil recovery currently uses a quite remarkable amount of energy: 1.7 quadrillion btu of gas around the world every year, according to GlassPoint.
当下驱油所使用的能源总量惊人: 根据GlassPoint统计, 每年全球在这方面使用的燃气大约为1.7千兆英热单位。
Not all of that is in sunny places, but there are many deserts besides Oman's that have oil beneath them.
虽然不是所有的油井都在阳光普照的地方, 但是除了Oman以外还有很多的存有油井的沙漠。
The paradoxical possibility, then, is that solar-thermal technology might end up producing a lot more oil than electricity in the years to come.
那么也许会有一个似是而非的可能--未来的某一天, 太阳热技术开采的石油会比电开采的石油多很多。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
subterranean [.sʌbtə'reiniən]

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adj. 地下的,隐蔽的

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concentrate ['kɔnsntreit]

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v. 集中,专心,浓缩
n. 浓缩物

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pilot ['pailət]

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n. 飞行员,领航员,引航员
vt. 领航,驾

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demanding [di'mændiŋ]

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adj. 要求多的,吃力的

 
contribution [.kɔntri'bju:ʃən]

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n. 贡献,捐款(赠)

 
solution [sə'lu:ʃən]

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n. 解答,解决办法,溶解,溶液

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wrinkle ['riŋkl]

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n. 皱纹,方法,革新,瑕疵
vt. 使起皱纹

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established [is'tæbliʃt]

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adj. 已被确认的,确定的,建立的,制定的 动词est

 
available [ə'veiləbl]

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adj. 可用的,可得到的,有用的,有效的

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intended [in'tendid]

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adj. 故意的,有意的;打算中的 n. 已订婚者 v.

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