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LETTER OF THE DAY - Steam is the energy source of choice

Published:Tuesday | March 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM


GROWING UP in a rural town where rail service was available, I was fascinated with the steam engine. It had great power, plus when riding in one of it's many coaches and a bend was being negotiated, it allowed you to see the linear movement being changed to rotary motion which reminded me of a horse at full gallop. The Jamaica Railway Corporation moved away from steam engines to diesel power because this was a more efficient engine and friendlier towards the environment, as steam engines at that time used coal as fuel. Since then, steam engines have greatly improved wherein it's far more powerful and efficient and friendlier towards the ecosystem. Steam engines are now been used in electricity generation, which, I think, would benefit greatly Jamaica. Coal has now being substituted with methane, and on small operations such as farms, bio-digesters utilise animal wastes to produce the gas. For towns and cities a central sewage system feeds digesters from which methane is used as the fuel for a steam engine, which drives a generator for electricity production.

With Jamaica having large population centres like Portmore, the Corporate Area, and Montego Bay, I think steam would be a wiser investment choice to those now being considered such as natural gas, nuclear energy, coal and ethanol. No foreign exchange would have to be spent on the base material for the digester as abundant supplies are available locally. And think of the good that would be done for Kingston Harbour and some of our beaches where effluent is deposited. The solid by-product of the digester could also be processed and used as fertiliser.

Jimmy Spence