Today was by my far my favorite tour/academic day of the trip.
At 0730 we left Earth University to tour the Miravelles Geothermal Power Field which consists of 5 geothermal facilities. Geothermal power is essentially harvesting the hot water and steam from the earth's core and converting it to electricity. Before the trip, I wrote my paper on Geothermal power in Costa Rica, specifically the Miravelles Geothermal Power Field, so being able to connect what I read and wrote about to real life was amazing. Many people are never able to visit places they read about and I'm thankful that I did.
The tour started with a video on Miravelles, its history, and development over time. Then we were able to tour the facility and ask many questions about the plant and its operation. Walking into the facility with background knowledge made it much easier to understand what I was looking at, and therefore ask more in-depth questions. After the tour, we were able to tour the Miravelles solar panel field where we learned about how the solar energy is transformed into electricity. Also, this facility was right below the (thankfully) dormant volcano, Miravelles, and we were able to take pictures of the volcano and power plant in the same shot.
It's interesting to think about how civilizations since the dawn of time have always lived close to water sources for a variety of purposes such as food, farming, drinking and other essentials to life. Now in 2019, we are setting up energy systems near water sources to meet our demand for energy. It just shows how essential our natural resources are to human survival.
After this, we stopped for lunch at Thermomania.
Then we made our way to the Ad Astra Rocket Company, were we learned about how this company is using electrical propulsion to send rockets to space while using plasma as the propellant. (Normally the propellant is referred to as fuel, but since fuel is not being used or combusted to propel the rocket, it is referred to as the propellant). Plasma is a super energized gas that loses all of its bonds, leaving positively and negatively charged particles. Then, we saw an actual prototype of this new design for an engine and fuel tank, which was incredible. We learned that an electromagnetic field is used to keep the plasma in the engine, Newton's laws of physics, and other mind boggling aspects of space.
After this, we went to outside to see their hydrogen powered bus and their refueling station and hydrogen tanks. This was also impressive, since most people when thinking of what powers a car or bus think of gas, diesel, or a battery, but never hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas used is derived from hydrogen electrolysis, where water is separated into hydrogen oxygen. This was amazing to see, but it also connects back to rockets and space exploration. Sustainability and space exploration both involve continuing mankind and life to keep in existence. While using sustainability measures to keep our Earth intact, we are also learning sustainability measures to get living organisms to other faraway places efficiently so that we can find another planet to hopefully sustain life, also known as a redundant planet. It goes beyond the current generation, but about the civil obligation of continuing the existence of all living organisms. It was interesting to put all of these components together.
Then, we headed back to Earth University, where the university was kind enough to through us a farewell barbecue/pool party. There, we played lots of music, ate good food, and enjoyed each other's company. We also gave our tour guide and bus driver thank you gifts and even brought a cake for our tour guide since it was his birthday today! Our time at Earth University has been unforgettable and we have all made memories that will last a lifetime. Tomorrow will be a final beach day followed by traveling back to San José.