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Engine On a Chip May Beat the Battery

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the is-that-a-quarter-in-your-pocket? dept.

321

Krishna Dagli writes, "MIT researchers are putting a tiny gas-turbine engine inside a silicon chip about the size of a quarter. The resulting device could run 10 times longer than a battery of the same weight, powering laptops, cell phones, radios, and other electronic devices." From the article: "All the parts work. We're now trying to get them all to work on the same day on the same lab bench." The goal is to do that by the end of the year.

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321 comments

I wonder how safe they will be? (4, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139259)


Turbine blades, made of low-defect, high-strength microfabricated materials, spin at 20,000 revolutions per second -- 100 times faster than those in jet engines.


And you thought a hot battery in your lap was scary.

Re:I wonder how safe they will be? (2, Insightful)

allfunandgames (1000948) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139318)

Yeah really...I'd like to know where the gas tank will go. "Honey, I'm going down to the gas station to fill up my laptop!" :P

Re:I wonder how safe they will be? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139405)

Actually, since they're using a microcarburetor instead of a microfuel injector, I can see a whole new service industry coming from this: "Honey, I need to get some work done so I'm going down to the Internet Bar for a while". The same business could serve your Wi-Fi, your favorite microbrew, and run your laptop on shots of whiskey.

p = mv & F =ma (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139418)

Since the mass of these materials is super small, the fact that they are moving at high velocity is no cause to hide under one's bed.

Also, at 20,000 rpm .. assuming that the "revolution" is a distance of 1 or 2 millimeters .. the ACTUAL velocity is nothing to send a letter home with.

Do the math (remember we are talking about the speed of the part of the object that is actually moving).

Another way of looking at it .. the total force cannot exceed the energy output of the gas expansion .. which is the result of a few micrograms of fuel.

Re:p = mv & F =ma (1, Interesting)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139512)

the total force cannot exceed the energy output

I think you need to check your units there, boyo.

Re:p = mv & F =ma (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139734)

What he is saying was that at worse you would would be the same result as exploding a few microgram of fuel. No big deal.

Re:p = mv & F =ma (4, Interesting)

gewalker (57809) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139687)

Try 20,000 revs / sec

E = 1/2 mV^2

Mass should be small since mass/volume hase cubing scaling. I expect MIT is not too concerned about it since they did not mention it.

I used to work at Cummins research center -- watch a turbocharger burst test if you get the chance, basically dump in as much fuel/air as it takes to get the flywheel to fly apart. Test is: is the casing is strong enough to contain all the flying pieces.

cause to hide under one's bed (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139691)

Except I don't have a reliable baseline of "causes to hide under one's bed". Curse this overprotective society we live in!

Re:I wonder how safe they will be? (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139573)

And...Beware the dangers of Second-Hand Computing.

Huge Amount of Energy + Small Space = Explosive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139584)

Packing a huge amount of energy into a small space is essentially creating a potential explosive.

What the geeks at MIT have done is to create a portable explosive device. If the energy is drawn down in small increments, that device works like a battery. You can run your laptop for an eternity.

However, if the energy is drawn down to 0 joules in 1 millisecond, then the device will blow up the automobile which you are driving.

Re:Huge Amount of Energy + Small Space = Explosive (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139816)

What the geeks at MIT have done is to create a portable explosive device.

Short your Li-Ion battery with a nice fat conductor sometime and tell me what you get.

Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for any injury to person or property resulting from your potential stupid actions, whether I suggested them or not.

Re:I wonder how safe they will be? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139675)

20,000/100 = 200

Jet engines spin at 200 RPM?

And we thought bad math on unmanned mars probes was scary. Hope this guy is sticking with journalism.

Re:I wonder how safe they will be? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139716)

ummm... that was 20,000 RPS not RPM

Re:I wonder how safe they will be? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139795)

oops

At least I scimmed TFA before posting an ignorant, unimformed comment.

Cripes! (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139269)

Yesterday they were putting lasers on a chip. [slashdot.org] Today it's engines. Tomorrow, I suppose I'm just going to live on a chip.

Re:Cripes! (4, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139280)

No, tomorrow its Snakes on a Chip!

Re:Cripes! (4, Funny)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139360)

>No, tomorrow its Snakes on a Chip!

And the day after tomorrow it's Apostrophes on a motherfucking Chip!

Re:Cripes! (1)

Veinor (871770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139548)

And the day after the day after tomorrow it's Proper Capitalization in Titles on a Motherfucking Chip! And then, Clichs

Re:Cripes! (1)

Veinor (871770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139566)

DAMMIT! Wrong button. I meant "And then, Cliches on a Motherfucking Chip".

Re:Cripes! (1)

jbrader (697703) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139466)

I'm afraid that the whole snakes on a plane thing is already deader than dogshit. But I agree wholeheartedly with your sig.

Re:Cripes! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139514)

No, tomorrow its Snakes on a Chip!

Too late. [fsu.edu]

Re:Cripes! (2, Funny)

michaelvkim (981938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139304)

many of us IT junkies do live on chips...

potato chips, that is!

Re:Cripes! (4, Informative)

eko33 (982179) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139335)

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Ye' have never fought the likes o' a man eat'n shark with lasers atop their skulls!

Pffft! Chips with lasers! You yellow-belly land-lubber!

Hurray (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139276)

more reason to increase gas prices

Does it (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139284)

Explode?

build a better battery (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139297)



I guess instead of building a better battery it's build a better generator. I guess all that matters is the efficiency of the design. My question is obviously heat production, and probably not as important exhast gases. How clean will this device burn. How well will these gases coexist with heat, and ionization.

Sounds like a interesting replacement for motors too.

Re:build a better battery (1)

spribyl (175893) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139326)

Quick Some check to make sure the Mom is not forcing this guy to build robots and his name is not Farnsworth.

Re:build a better battery (1)

anonymous_wombat (532191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139411)

If this is running in my house, then exhaust gases seem pretty important to me.

Wow! (4, Insightful)

Kirin Fenrir (1001780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139299)

It's the energy source of the future! It's...

...gas?

This is Sooo Amazing! (2, Funny)

donaldlatif (543636) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139311)

I always thought that what computers were missing was the pull chain for starting the engine. Now it'll be just like using the lawnmower! BBBBRRRRBRBRBRRBBRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!

So does my ship! (-1, Offtopic)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139313)

In addition, the project provides an excellent opportunity for teaching. "No matter what your specialty is -- combustion or bearings or microfabrication -- it's equally hard," he said. "As an educational tool, it's enormously useful because the students realize that their success is dependent upon other people's success. They can't make their part easier by making somebody else's part harder, because then as a team we don't succeed."

Arrrr maties! I need some crewmates! Arrr, it'll be an edurrrrcational advent-arrrrrr!

Hot exhaust? (4, Funny)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139319)

The article doesn't mention what happens to the hot exhaust after it passes through the turbine. Does this mean that have not tackled this problem yet? This could give a whole new meaning to the whole "laptop frying your balls".

Re:Hot exhaust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139350)

Actually, I think "laptop frying your balls" will have precisely the same meaning. Arrr!!

Re:Hot exhaust? (1)

heauxmeaux (869966) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139370)

My Balls are on fire - can I cool them off in your mouth?

Re:Hot exhaust? (1)

moracity (925736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139355)

It also doesn't mention how to fuel the engine...what happens when it runs out of gas?

Also, shouldn't they be making these run on bio-diesel?

Re:Hot exhaust? (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139488)

what happens when it runs out of gas?

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and speculate that when it runs out of gas, the engine stops turning.

Re:Hot exhaust? (1)

wtansill (576643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139664)

It also doesn't mention how to fuel the engine...what happens when it runs out of gas?

Also, shouldn't they be making these run on bio-diesel?
What will be interesting is trying to get a fueled laptop (and spare fuel containers) aboard a commercial airliner. I read something the other day about one of the airlines (Virgin?) banning Dell and Apple laptops due to the exploding/burning battery debacle. Can you see them letting you on board with flammable and potentially explosive fuels? I sure can't!

Re:Hot exhaust? (4, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139832)

One thing that many people forget - mostly due to the impression given by hollywood - is that gasoline and diesel don't explode at the drop of a hat. But the liquid form doesn't ignite, it must first be vaporized and mixed with oxygen before you have something that will readily combust. If you had a closed container of fuel, and prevented oxygen from getting in, it would be pretty safe. Even when liquids were allowed on airplanes, there weren't many stories [possibly none - does someone know of any?] of terrorists using gasoline in a bomb, despite the fact that it is easier to get than explosives and readily concealed.

Even a gas tank, which gets filled with air as the gas is used, rarely explodes even in the most violent car crashes. Usually what happens is that the fuel gets sprayed everywhere and burns on the surface. An explosion wouldn't come from all the gas suddenly burning, as happens with a genuine explosive, but from the vapors in the tank combusting and causing the tank to rupture.

Re:Hot exhaust? (1)

Gulik (179693) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139719)

The article doesn't mention what happens to the hot exhaust after it passes through the turbine. Does this mean that have not tackled this problem yet? This could give a whole new meaning to the whole "laptop frying your balls".

Well, more like air-popping, really, so at least they'll be low-fat. Which, I concede, will likely not be much of a comfort.

I know where this is going... (5, Funny)

jakedata (585566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139324)

Miniature fighter jets with lasers all etched out of a silicon crystal.

We could drop half a billion of them over the middle east.

Re:I know where this is going... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139422)

Mmmmmm. Dog pod grid...

Re:I know where this is going... (1)

myth24601 (893486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139467)

Miniature fighter jets with lasers all etched out of a silicon crystal. We could drop half a billion of them over the middle east.

Makes me worry about the market getting flooded with cheap chips.

Re:I know where this is going... (1)

stevetherobot (976486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139685)

We could drop half a billion of them over the middle east.
Where they'd all be eaten by a small dog.

Small is not good for mechanical applications nece (2, Insightful)

The Dalex (996138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139329)

That's a really interesting read (pancake analogy aside), although it sounds like the resulting device will be pretty fragile. A small grain of sand or a little dust buildup would cause complete failure. Large mechanical systems have the ability to power through minor problems like that, but such a small one will not really be suited for military field use, I imagine.

Re:Small is not good for mechanical applications n (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139479)

I have to wonder how efficient it will be. Two things drive the efficiency of a gas turbine. The heat differentials and that leakage between the blades or impeller and the housing.
The leakage is going to be a real issue since it is a ratio between the disk size and the gap. Bigger engines mean a higher ratio. That is one of the reasons that BIG gas turbines are relatively efficient while small one suck fuel like there is no tomorrow.

Re:Small is not good for mechanical applications n (1)

MrTester (860336) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139500)

Remember, we are talking about a replacement for batteries here.
Like a battery, this is not something that is going to be recharged in the field. They will just swap out one micro generator for another and send the used up one off somewhere for refeulling so the dust or sand is not an issue.

Not insurmountable problems (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139534)

I'm not sure that's entirely fair; there are lots of systems that don't much like getting dirt in them, but that's what filters are for. Compared to a horse, an internal-combustion engine probably seems like it's really prone to problems -- after all, a horse doesn't mind if there's some dirt in its feed, but put the same amount of dirt into a tank of gas and run it directly into an engine, and you'll probably have issues. Hence, fuel and oil filters.

They're not unsolvable problems. I assume that actual production units of a micro-turbine would have various types of fuel filtering, and apart from the filters, would exist in a hermetically-sealed case.

Think about hard drives: a few specks of dust in there would result in data loss, and it gets worse all the time -- as the data density increases, the amount you could lose due to one dirt particle grows. But properly ruggedized, there's no reason why they can't be used in the field.

Once the initial technology is developed, the encapsulation into a usable consumer (or military) device is QED by comparison; there are a lot of companies who are pretty good at that sort of thing, so I really think it's the least of the problems this would encounter.

Re:Small is not good for mechanical applications n (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139649)

That sounds like what happened with the M-16 machine gun. It's a really nice gun, but it has really tight tollerances, and doesn't operate very well when it's dirty, and hence it requires lots of cleaning, or it tends to jam. The AK-47 on the other hand, operates pretty well even when it is dirty, which is nice in combat situations, since you don't want your gun jamming in the middle of a battle. For more information, check out the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]

Re:Small is not good for mechanical applications n (1)

DextroShadow (957200) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139732)

Assault rifle, not machine gun.

that'll just require a good filter, like a HDD... (1)

MrFebtober (922100) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139667)

...only much bigger since it will actually be moving significant amounts of air through it. I would imagine changing an intake air filter on one of these things could require use a clean room, but nonetheless, a very fine filter system would be in order. This would mean that efficiency would drop over time as dirt built up at the intake.

Gas-powered batteries use oil... (1)

pianoben (993940) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139341)

...So now when DHS raises the terror alert, our cell phones will cost more, too?!

That doesn't sound right...

Generator? (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139354)

OK, I can picture the gas microturbine, and I can picture how a fuel/combustion energy source can outpower an electochemical energy source. However, do we have the capacity to make a generator that small. After all, we have the rotary power, how do we convert that into electrical energy?

I would be more interested in a bioelectric power source, like electric eel cells fed with sucrose.

Re:Generator? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139419)

Any electric motor can conceivably be used as an electric generator with little modification, or in most cases no modification at all. Considering how small we can make electric motors I don't think this will be the issue.

=Smidge=

Re:Generator? (1)

waif69 (322360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139431)

I like your electric eel idea and I am sure that many would support it, however groups like PETA would lobby and most likely prevent such research from occuring. It only takes a small organized group protesting to get in the news, if the media sources are favorable to the protest they don't usually indicate that the protest is a small group, and then it just takes a few lunches for a few key senators to make things happen on the Hill. Nice idea, won't see it happen in our lifetimes, at least not in the US.

Re:Generator? (1)

jakedata (585566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139450)

But imagine the fun if a group breaks in at night to 'liberate' the electric eels. I hope they brought gloves...

Re:Generator? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139452)

RTFA- they've got a 10-Watt microgenerator already working! Plus, anything you can run of gasoline, with a little tweaking of the carbuerator, will run off of Whiskey. If this gets popular, I'm going to start looking for an old bar that has DSL access for an investment property.

Re:Generator? (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139615)

Plus, anything you can run of gasoline, with a little tweaking of the carbuerator, will run off of Whiskey.

Really? Where exactly do I find the carbuerator on my fuel-injected car?

Re:Generator? (2, Informative)

Tx (96709) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139460)

OK, I can picture the gas microturbine, and I can picture how a fuel/combustion energy source can outpower an electochemical energy source. However, do we have the capacity to make a generator that small.

As usual, the answer is in TFA, and it is "Yes":
Turbine blades, made of low-defect, high-strength microfabricated materials, spin at 20,000 revolutions per second -- 100 times faster than those in jet engines. A mini-generator produces 10 watts of power. A little compressor raises the pressure of air in preparation for combustion. And cooling (always a challenge in hot microdevices) appears manageable by sending the compression air around the outside of the combustor.

Re:Generator? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139516)

Ball bearings. It's so simple, maybe you need a refresher course. It's all ball bearings these days!


Re:Generator? (4, Funny)

Comboman (895500) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139739)

I would be more interested in a bioelectric power source, like electric eel cells fed with sucrose.

Electric eel generator, bird beak phonograph needle and dinosaur garbage disposal are already patented by Fred Flintstone.

I've always wondered... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139387)

Why don't they produce a heatpiped heatsink that's combined with a small type stirling engine [wikipedia.org] where the heat source would be the chip itself.

What happens if... (5, Funny)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139391)

...a teeny, tiny seagull flies into the turbine?

Arrr (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139612)

thats why we do an envirrrronmental impact analysis.

Re:What happens if... (5, Funny)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139714)

Teeny tiny feathers fly out

All parts work, just need to put it together (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139414)

ha, ha ha. How many times the rookies in my dept have come to me excitedly and said, "Great news Boss, Got all the functions implemented and unit testing checked out ok. All I need to do is to put it together. Finished 90% of the code in just 10% of the time. Want to take a month off to chill out in Aruba!"

Then they spend 200% of the allotted time to make sure what they wrote in the first 10% interact with one another correctly.

Re:All parts work, just need to put it together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139697)

That, my friend, is one BRILLIANT MOTHERFUCKING OBSERVATION.
(If you're 5 years old)

This will never fly :( (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139428)

Given all the issues with "liquids" and flaming laptop batteries, I doubt this will be allowed on aircraft. (We'll see if methanol fuel cells pass TSA muster). I guess that's just another example of the terrorists winning their goal of keeping people out of the 21st century.

pointless? (2, Insightful)

micromuncher (171881) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139445)

A microturbine requires a completely new energy source; can you imagine plugging a butane canister into your portable? All turbines have physical issues around energy lost through heat; remember in a traditional engine only about 50% of fuel burned actually goes to perform work.

So does your Zippo. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139589)

can you imagine plugging a butane canister into your portable?

Yes.

It makes a whole lot more sense to me than just cursing as the machine shuts down because the battery is depleted, and you're nowhere near a power outlet.

Re:pointless? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139713)

Plus, you won't be able to take a laptop powered this way into the “secure” area of an airport... (Of course, once there is a rumor of someone trying blow up a plane with a Sony-made laptop battery, you won't be able to do that with any other laptop, either.)

2 words (1)

lunaticLT (763681) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139480)

moving parts.

After the lunch I just had... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139492)

I would say I might be the perfect fuel source for my new laptop and cell phone.

(runs to buy's bean futures...)

Re:After the lunch I just had... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139801)

You runs to buy is bean futures? If you're going to write buy's, why don't you also write run's?

Does it expel cabon dioxide? (2, Insightful)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139493)

I would imagine if it burns a fuel, it spits out carbon.

We need to stop burning stuff for our energy. Sure, batteries store energy made by mostly burning coal and stuff, but there other options for generating electricity to fill those batteries that don't involve adding carbon. I wish these people focused their research towards these types of energy sources.

Re:Does it expel cabon dioxide? (3, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139694)

I'd imagine it can be tuned to run from any hydrocarbon based fuel source. Sources such as alcohol should be carbon neutral. There's nothing that says it has to be from fossil fuels.

Polution? (2, Insightful)

iansmith (444117) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139509)

Simple, small gas engines in lawnmowers and scooters are far, far dirtier than in a large modern car engine that has extensive polution control systems even when you take into account how much more gas a car uses than a lawnmower.

So I can't imagine this thing will run very clean at all. Not much room to put in a catalytic converter or other cleaning methods.

I have to wonder what a hundred million of these things running will do to indoor air quality. I don't think I want a thousand of these inside my office building.

Re:Polution? (3, Informative)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139672)

The main reason that lawnmower engines are so incredibly dirty is that they are two-stroke engines. Two-stroke engines are inherently evil -- they burn dirty and emit huge quantities of unburnt fuel -- but they have a higher power-to-weight ratio and therefore see use where a small, powerful engine is required. It has a lot more to do with the engine design than it does the size. As for the pollution controls in cars, don't forget that car engines have to deal with an incredibly wide range of ever-changing speeds and power requirements. It's quite difficult to build an efficient engine which operates across such a wide range of speeds, but a simple engine driving a generator can operate at precisely one speed with a fixed load and can therefore be optimized for its precise requirements.

Further. the researchers in TFA are not building a piston-driven engine at all, they are building a gas-turbine engine. While it's difficult to speculate on the efficiency at this point (the thing doesn't even exist!), I would expect it to be relatively clean.

Re:Polution? (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139813)

2-stroke engines are the worst, but even 4-stroke lawnmower engines are far dirtier than a car engine's output, mainly due to the lack of a catalytic converter. Check this out: Grass Cutting Beats Driving in Making Air Pollution [mindfully.org]

From the linked article: "...the researchers used regular unleaded fuel in a typical four stroke, four horsepower lawn mower engine and found, after one hour, that the PAH emissions are similar to a modern gasoline powered car driving about 150 kilometers (93 miles)."

Re:Polution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139740)

Think before you post:
They are all different types of engines and thus you cannot make generalizations just based on size.

Lawnmowers are almost exclusively 2 stroke engines which burn oil along with the gasoline.
Cars are 4 stroke engines with government mandated environmental regulations place upon them.
These are turbine engines which are an entirely different type of engine.

Exhaust (1)

llamalicious (448215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139529)

Excellent idea for packing a lot of power into a small space, but there's nothing about where the exhaust goes. How much does it produce? What about hundreds of these little turbines running at the same time in a closed-atmosphere, like a plane? Do we need to hook up little straws to pump the exhaust outside? How about oxygen supply for combustion?

Re:Exhaust (1)

pointbeing (701902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139655)

Assuming that the turbine produces 10 watts of power (got this from TFA) and is 30% efficient (not an unreasonable assumption) this would mean that the turbine produced 10 watts of work and a little more than 20 watts would be dissipated as heat - far less than a modern PC microprocessor.

Why??? (4, Insightful)

thepacketmaster (574632) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139531)

Other than the obvious geek factor, why would we want to increase our dependancy on a fossil fuel.

Re:Why??? (5, Funny)

shrikel (535309) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139580)

Because as we move to hybrid gas-electric vehicles, more and more mechanics are finding they need a degree in electronics just to be able to fix your car. So to level the playing field, we felt that electronics geeks should have to learn how to fix an engine too.

Re:Why??? (1)

Shadows (121287) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139780)

Firstly -- and I know the parent did not say this specifically -- but I just wanted to point out that "gas" in "gas turbine" does not mean "gasoline." "Gas" as in solid, liquid, gas. Howstuffworks has a pretty good article [howstuffworks.com] on the basics of how gas turbines work.

From Wikipedia's entry on gas turbines [wikipedia.org] , specifically micro turbines:
They accept most commercial fuels, such as natural gas, propane, diesel and kerosene. The are also able to produce renewable energy when fueled with biogas from landfills and sewage treatment plants.
Appreciably the fuels mentioned above are all "fossil fuels" but if I can more efficiently power my laptop with this ultra-micro turbine than the local coal based power station (or other non-environmentally friendly power source) then it'd still help lower my overall dependence. I'm not sure how a biofuel would fit into that picture but it sounds nice to get something useful from our trash other than new, dangerous and foul smelling hills.

-Josh

Re:Why??? (0, Offtopic)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139817)

Other than the obvious geek factor, why would we want to increase our dependancy on a fossil fuel.

I'm just guessing here, but maybe because we are monkeys.

We are, after all, the species that dropped automotive research into aerodynamics for the better part of fifty years because the marketing droids realized that aerodynamic shapes would limit the scope of pointless re-stylings that can be used to sell monkeys new cars they don't need every few years.

Humans are not very far out of the trees, driven by monkey drives of hierarchy and status. These drives are remarkably robust, to the extent that all attempts to subvert them are rapidly subverted themselves, giving us folks like Stalin at the extremely pointed pinnicle of a "classless" society.

These failures have nothing to do with people not being "good enough" for non-hierarchical societies, any more than whales persistently dieing on the beach is evidence that they are not "good enough" to live on land. It is simply a matter of our nature, which is unfortunately largely ill-suited to creating stable, sane, passably decent societies that use technology for the betterment of all rather the convenience of some and the oppression of many.

Matchbox (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139542)

Makes it look like the first gas turbine car of the 21st century will be a Matchbox car.

Airplanes (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139559)

They will have to reinstitute smoking sections on aircraft.

"Will you be flying in fumes or non-fumes, sir?"

Ads (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139572)

I would just like to mention that the vertical HP ad in this article that blocked the content has caused me to install Adblock Plus and I will now be ignoring all ads on slashdot. You guys lost ad revenue from me because of the annoying ads. Good day.

Oil change? (1)

tilde_e (943106) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139617)

How many hours will it run before it needs an oil change?

awesome startup sound (2, Funny)

llZENll (545605) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139650)

How cool will it be when you turn your laptop on and it sounds like a jet engine starting up!

How eco-friendly? (0, Redundant)

Vincman (584156) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139673)

So what are the consequences for the environment here? I realise that it's not nice to have billions of batteries lying around, but do these mini-furnaces cause any other kind of pollution? I did not find anything about this in the 'challenges ahead' section, nor do I know much about gas (no pun intended) to be honest.

one more... (1)

rahrens (939941) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139688)

...government agency to get involved in another product! I can see it now as a new advertising come on:

Now! New MacBook Pro - EPA approved! Improved catalytic converter design! Larger, more efficient muffler! Meets EPA SPMML standards! (Seconds per micro-milliliter)

so when... (5, Funny)

not a cylon (1003138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139703)

will they be putting tiny engines inside silicon*e* ? Just imagine, breasts that swing *themselves* even when the woman is standing still. It truly would be Utopia. Or Stepford. I always get those two confused.

They should use steam. :) (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139720)

Can it beat John Henry and his mighty hammer? Didn't think so!

Will it come to anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16139761)

I have been reading /. for quite a few years and have yet to see a single important technological breakthrough mentioned here to make it to the public. Well, with the possible exception of the Segway, which is just hype, not breakthrough.

Scaling down heat engines? (4, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139763)

When steam engines were invented and developed in England by Newcomen the science of thermodynamics was lagging the technology. The steam engines work obviously but they could not get scaled down versions of the steam engines to work at all in the lab. Mainly because real engines were made with cast iron but the lab models were made with brass and it conducted away the heat away too quickly. At this time a man named James Watt, an instrumentmaker by profession did lots of work on the lab models and made an improved steam engine by mainly making the steam condense outside the cylinder. Also he invented the Watts Governor to regulate the speed of the machine. The moral of the story is that, heat engines dont scale down as easily as electronics.

Fluids in general behave much more differently in microscopic quantities than in large bulk quantities. I expect to be lugging large batteries for some time to come.

Make it run on methane (2, Funny)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139773)

...then I can eat Mexican food for lunch and power my laptop for free!

Wonderful (2, Insightful)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139821)

Just what we need these days, not less but MORE dependence on fossil fuels. What idiots! Besides the obvious problem of trying to fuel something that small at the gas pump and then paying for it in fractions of a penny, what about the carbon dioxide emissions that conbustion engines produce? Aren't we going to be in for a lot of people with lots of headaches and brain damage from using a device like this? Even though it's so small, it's STILL emitting carbon dioxide which is known to cause the more serious cases of fatal death. I still get behind my roaring battle cry: SOLAR POWER IS WHERE IT'S AT FOLKS!!! The sun is an abundant energy source. Amp the solar panel production up so that they are 99.999% efficient, and you won't need any other source of energy anywhere on the planet. Combine that with electricity resevoirs that can hold a couple hundred gallons of electricity, and you have a clear winner. Thumbs down on this for sure.

Next, 20,000 dupes per second! (1)

djshaffer (595950) | more than 7 years ago | (#16139822)

Jet turbine article posting!
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