Plausible science-fiction energy ideas

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  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    http://blog.ted.com/2011/04/27/using-nature-to-grow-batteries-angela-belcher-on-ted-com/

    We can in theory grow batteries and solar cells, I think genetic manipulation to do this kind of thing is where we will end up in the next 20-30 years

    Fantastic video! :beer:

    /\
  • zeupaterzeupater Forumite
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    Science fiction, bordering on plausible .......

    http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazine/solar-energy-system-of-the-month/hydraulic-hydro-storage.html

    ..... Severn barrage, windfarms, pv, overnight excess nuclear, Icelandic geothermal, hamsters, kinetic pavements and literally every other form of generation working in harmony to enable hydraulics to lift a mountain sized piston vertically in order to store their combined energy production until it's needed ....... and you can still grow crops on the top ... or save a coastal city or two from the ravages of rising sea levels, unless there's something good on the telly and everyone needs a cuppa in the next break, then they'll get their downstairs windows washed for free !! ...... :D

    HTH
    Z
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
    B)
  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    zeupater wrote: »

    Really loving that article. It answered most of my questions too - eg: while I as reading it I was wondering about tilting, friction, how they'd cut the cylinder etc.

    The only things that aren't immediately clear is how controlled the energy would be once they let gravity do its thing, and how long a time period it could run for. I was initially thinking it would just plummet fairly quickly, but I guess if they could restrict the water escape flow, it could actually be controlled over several hours or even days?

    Also, I'm probably being a bit dim, but wouldn't a rectangular profile be easier to cut and have more volume?

    I'd very much like them to build a small proof-of-concept version. Our government or the US could probably do that for the cost of a few bombing missions in <insert country of your choice here> :(
    (not wishing to get political, it's just frustrating that there are all these cool ideas that desperately need some decent funding)

    /\dam
  • edited 9 June 2011 at 4:21PM
    zeupaterzeupater Forumite
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    edited 9 June 2011 at 4:21PM
    celerity wrote: »
    Really loving that article. It answered most of my questions too - eg: while I as reading it I was wondering about tilting, friction, how they'd cut the cylinder etc.

    The only things that aren't immediately clear is how controlled the energy would be once they let gravity do its thing, and how long a time period it could run for. I was initially thinking it would just plummet fairly quickly, but I guess if they could restrict the water escape flow, it could actually be controlled over several hours or even days?

    Also, I'm probably being a bit dim, but wouldn't a rectangular profile be easier to cut and have more volume?

    I'd very much like them to build a small proof-of-concept version. Our government or the US could probably do that for the cost of a few bombing missions in <insert country of your choice here> :(
    (not wishing to get political, it's just frustrating that there are all these cool ideas that desperately need some decent funding)

    /\dam
    Hi

    The idea would be to have a number of these systems and have a week of stored energy, so 7 systems of this size, or one with 7x the capacity, or ..... you get the idea.

    I'll let an engineer describe the technicalities of why the cuts would be circular, but they would be for the same reason that the cylinder in your car's engine or diver's airtanks, or old fashoned gasometers (thats effectively what this is) are all the same shape.

    As for squares and rectangles v circles. The most efficient ratio of perimeter to area is achieved with a circle, therefore there would be far less work to achieve the desired volume .... and no, this isn't the reason an engineer would describe .... :D;)

    As for how controlled .... if the system doesn't leak significantly under pressure it's a pretty good way of storing energy, far more efficient than batteries. Years ago almost every town had gasometers, effectively a way to store and deliver energy in a controlled manner, at a controlled pressure. Today you have a water tap in the kitchen which is fed by pressure from raising a water reservoir level to a height above your house. Turn on the gas or the water and both systems deliver your requirement in a controlled way ...... the same applies for the proposed system. Simply open a valve and water under pressure enters a turbine hall which would look like that in any other hydroelectric system (dams etc)

    HTH
    Z
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
    B)
  • edited 10 June 2011 at 2:37PM
    Ben84Ben84 Forumite
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    edited 10 June 2011 at 2:37PM
    celerity wrote: »
    Also, I'm probably being a bit dim, but wouldn't a rectangular profile be easier to cut and have more volume?

    Easier to cut? Honestly I have no idea. However, for area, a circle encloses the greatest internal area to external edge length of any shape. It makes sense really, start at the centre and work your way in your imagination to any external edge of any shape. With an perfect circle you'll reach the edge at the same distance no matter which way you travel. With anything that has corners, for example a square, you will as you approach the corner find the distance increasing, but the width enclosed on either side of you decreasing as you approach the point. The circle is basically perfect because all boundary points are all the exact same distance from each other relative to the centre point, hence it providing maximum internal area to eternal boundary length. All deviations from a circle, such as a point or corner require the lines to extend and create a point of some type which comes with the inevitable penalty of the two lines having to meet at a sharp corner, the distance across which decreases towards the point.

    As in 2D circles enclose the most space with least circumference, so do spheres in 3D. Because of their material efficiency, circles and spheres are found in many places naturally, as everything attempts to adopt the most energetically stable configuration it will often take a circle or sphere to minimise unfavourable molecular interactions with its environment, or to maximise favourable interactions with itself. Detergent bubbles are spheres, micelles are spheres, oil droplets in water spread out to circles on the surface, or if a heavy oil is used, they clump as spheres, and so are planets that have formed from molten rock (well, they're roughly spherical).
  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    I think my biases about "square vs circle" stem from my poor DIY skills. I could cut a (roughly) square hole using a jigsaw etc, but have no idea how I would cut a big circle that was anything close to being "perfect" :).

    /\dam
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