NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Benefits Of New Electric Technologies (SUMMARY)

May 11, 1998

Increasing electricity use is causally linked to improved health conditions and increased average life span, says technology consultant Mark P. Mills. Thus developed countries use about 100 times more electricity per capita than developing ones, and the average national life span increases 10 years with a tenfold increase in per capita electric use

In developing nations, says Mills, electrically powered technologies such as refrigeration, irrigation and sanitation are improving health and increasing life spans. In post-industrial societies, new and emerging electric technologies (ETs) can achieve significant added health and environmental benefits, according to an analysis by Mills-McCarthy & Associates.

Of more than 500 ETs examined, they found many with potential positive effects. For example:

  • Acid-free metal cleaning using electrolysis and ultrasound can improve workplace safety, along with low-temperature electric plasma torches to replace solvents in industrial cleaning.
  • Liquid nitrogen can be used in place of chemical toxins to destroy termites.
  • The shelf life of foods may be doubled without costly preservatives by injecting highly pressurized, liquefied carbon dioxide into ice cream, cottage cheese and other dairy products.
  • Meat can be exposed in processing plants to very high-frequency pulsed electric fields that destroy harmful organisms -- achieving the effect of pasteurization without significantly increasing temperature.

Furthermore, pollutants can be rendered harmless or disposed of in an environmentally benign way:

  • Microwave disinfection can reduce the volume of medical waste by more than 80 percent and render the remainder harmless.
  • A cold (electric) plasma process can cost-effectively destroy the organic hazards in a factory's exhaust.

Increased use of these technologies promises pervasive, incremental improvements in a healthy environment, concludes Mills.

Source: Mark P. Mills (president, Mills-McCarthy & Associates Inc.), "Want to Improve Your Nation's Health? Burn Coal," World Climate Report, May 11, 1998.

 

Browse more articles on Economic Issues