The December Energy Update

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item The December Energy Update

  • Now, that's quite an article... some great references, too! Thanks for the research, Steve.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Compressed air as a power source probably predates most electric applications. There is a themal heat loss, however which tends to make it much less efficient than electricity.

    ...

    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • Hadn't thought about that, but it would be nice if you could use that thermal energy somehow. Maybe incorporate into some heating/cooling application?

  • I like the personal nuclear reactor. :w00t: Sure, let's hook that bad boy up in my backyard. I could use it to boil my stew and sell the excess power.

    ATBCharles Kincaid

  • Heh... use the heat of compression to make hot water, the thermal losses of expansion to provide refrigeration, and the left over pressure to drive a low pressure turbine.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • I was thinking that the compression could aid the solar hot water in providing radiant heat. The cold air could be used for cooling in the summer.

    I still agree the portable nuclear reactor is cool. I think it would be neat to have one, but more than likely this would be a great small town investment. Provide power fairly locally instead of using such large centralized plants.

    I'm donating land if they give me free power ๐Ÿ™‚

  • What would really be "cool" is Low Temperature Differential Stirling Engines. Design one that would work at 70-90oFd Diiferential (would be kinda large but light-weight) that would kick out 3,000 watts certain and continuous... would run on hot water from solar. Neat thing is, it would also run at night when air temps were a bit lower and would work very well in the winter when you'd only need to get the water to 100-120o to achieve the temperature differential. In the summer, it would have plenty of reserve power to not only turn a generator, but it could drive a second Stirling Motor backwards to make some cold air for air conditioning. Waste heat from that would make more hot water.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Nice editorial. A couple of "opinions";

    micro-nuclear is great, and even though it could be used in some locations, I want to see that used in spacecraft. Imagine what could be done if there were 100's of Kilowatts to 10's of Megawatts on a satellite orbiting the outer planets. On the "space industry" side of things, to support the idea of "mining" the moon for Helium 3 (an expensive nuclear fusion fuel), a small reliable power plant on the surface is needed. On the propulsion front, it could be used for an ION drive, an NTP (Nuclear Thermal Propulsion) drive, or one of the many hybrid concepts that have been proposed. Something along these lines is probably needed to make a manned Mars trip / exploration viable.

    The CO2 capture is IMHO missing the point, any capture that is done should be turned back into fuel. Carbon is the "low tech" approach to create a storage system for Hydrogen. The technology is available now, and can easily be deployed. The one that I lean towards is making Methanol; there is an industrial process that can work on a large scale, and the alcohol can be used directly in an IC engine, or fed into a fuel cell. Methanol does have some negatives with it, so I don't see it as a cure all, but it could definately be deployed in a closed system.

    Beer's Law: Absolutum obsoletum
    "if it works it's out-of-date"

  • My problem with a mega-watt satilite would be that some idiot would figure out a way to turn it into a beam weapon. ION drive? Way cool application for the mini-nuke.

    So far as Ethanol goes, it's nothing more than an only slightly less harmful substitute in my eyes... it's still going to give off CO2 (the major green house gas) and another green house gas that comes in second right after CO2... water vapor. Not sure what the byproducts of combustion are for Methanol, but I believe its going to be a little more nasty. It's also tough on plastics and rubber so car manufacturers would have a serious change. In fact, right now, most owners manuals state that if you use either Methanol or Isopropyl alchohols in the vehicle, the warranty will be rendered null.

    Big question would be when are we going to stop Oxydizing carbon based materials as heat source? If the mini-nuke can be made safe enough to put in my back yard, why not put an electrical outlet on it to charge up the car? Sure, since it's mostly free electricity, you could also crack some ionized water (NAOH as an ionizer in a semi-closed system, for example) to make some H2, but then there's that green house gas known as H2O vapor again. We've gotta find some way stop burning stuff...

    Handful of tera-watt parachute generators in the Gulf Stream would do it with virtually no environment impact... no fish choppers (turbines), no ugly windmills, and it's basically solar/planetary-rotation driven. Would make the combination of Hoover Dam and Niagra falls look like a triple-A battery in comparison. Or dig a couple of "Project MOHO's" (drill past the Earth's crust to get some real heat from the Mantel, done on the ocean floor where the crust is thin) and we'd have all the electricity we'd need.

    Of course, the boys selling oil, natural gas, and corn-squeezin's would squawk... ๐Ÿ˜›

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • They already are squawking. The new Energy Act passed, just as I was publishing this. I'll comment more in the Feb update, but the solar and wind subsidies were removed. I understand this was to prevent a raise in taxes on oil products now, which makes some sense. We're paying a lot now and it's hurting people, but I hate to see solar and wind lose out on some of the gains that are being made.

  • If we are so after CO2 then we should stop the soft drink industry.

    ATBCharles Kincaid

  • Steve Jones - Editor (12/27/2007)


    ...the solar and wind subsidies were removed.

    I don't suppose they removed the subsidies on Ethanol as well? That was one of those that I wish they never had, or made it a subsidy on "non-food source" produced Ethanol. I have a number of concerns with Ethanol increase, mostly related to conversion of farm land from food source to energy source. With as many people that are staving in the world, trimming a couple of percentage point in the cost of gas seems very wrong to me. Using a wood source or switchgrass is fine, but feed stock is needed elsewhere.

    As to the Methanol issues: yes I am aware that they exist. As the existing infrastructure is right now it could not be used mass market (ie replace gasoline); it could be industry based, or utilized as / in energy storage systems. The thing is that it could be an approach to recycle CO2. There are systems to extract CO2 from the air; they were called "artificial trees" in a Scientific American a short while back. The thing is that people just don't know what to do with it (CO2) once its collected. "Plant" some of the "trees" at or near a power plant, make methanol, and use the methanol somewhere.

    Though I am not in the GW camp, I am interested in improving all the energy infrastructure; ways to produce electricity, more efficient storage, utilization, etc. It just seems wrong to me that in the "computer and information age" that we are coming into, it is still being powered by something not much better than when humanity was sitting around in caves.

    Beer's Law: Absolutum obsoletum
    "if it works it's out-of-date"

  • I'm not sure about the Ethanol, but I tend to agree that we can't blindly switch from food to fuel. It would be better to mandate some type of percentage that balances the needs of both.

    I know Brazil has done great with sugar as an ethanol creator. It's better than corn from what I've read and they've really reduced their dependence on oil.

    My vote is that we continue to investigate alternatives and we find ways to generate power closer to consumption at more reasonable prices. All utilities should be mandated somehow to help build a larger percentage of generators in communities and tie them to the grid.

  • As far as storing energy goes thatโ€™s what hydrogen is best at. Generate some electricity use that to create some hydrogen from water. When you need power run it through a fuel cell. If we want something easer to store how about ammonia NH4 there is a tone of nitrogen around about 70% of the air is nitrogen and you can filter the nitrogen out of the air easy enough. Ammonia burns but does not emit CO2 it will make water vapor but doesnโ€™t rain do a good job of getting rind of that, and besides more fresh water can only be a good thing right.

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