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MIT's Millimeter Turbine to be Ready This Year

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the power-to-go dept.

Power 197

Iddo Genuth writes "After a decade of work, the first millimeter size turbine engine developed by researchers at MIT should become operational by the end of this summer. The new turbine engine will allow the creation of smaller and more powerful batteries than anything currently in existence. It might also serve as the basis for tiny powerful motors with applications ranging from micro UAVs to children's toys. In the more distant future huge arrays of hydrogen fueled millimeter turbine engines could even be the basis for clean, quiet and cost effective power plants."

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Clean Power Plants? (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944142)

In the more distant future huge arrays of hydrogen fueled millimeter turbine engines could even be the basis for clean, quiet and cost effective power plants."

WTF? Where's the hydrogen coming from? May as well say In the more distant future huge arrays of kitten engines could even be the basis for clean, quiet and cost effective power plants."

Well, it could be!

Re:Clean Power Plants? (4, Funny)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944174)

The hydrogen comes from the kittens, doofus!

Re:Clean Power Plants? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944346)

No, no, it comes from pig shit.

Re:Clean Power Plants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945948)

That is just sick and wrong. Everyone knows that you can't convert kittens into hydrogen. Now, Pop Tarts [goats.com] , on the other hand... And don't go on about converting Pop Tarts into hydrogen, unless you wish to be shunned. SHUNNED! I tell you... SHUNNED!

Re:Clean Power Plants? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944228)

Clearly you have never watched The Matrix.

Re:Clean Power Plants? (0)

dbatkins (958906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944442)

Clean power? from cats? Have you ever had to clean a litter box?

Re:Clean Power Plants? (1)

GetSource (807184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944694)

Well, if you were going to generate power with ammonia and other natural gases ...

Re:Clean Power Plants? (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944554)

WTF? Where's the hydrogen coming from?

From clean nuclear plants that require no mining, enrichment, hazardous waste disposal, have no concrete and so thus have no carbon dioxide impact and work far better than the tweaked 1950s dinosuars which are the only tested designs you could get built over the course of the next few years.

Methane from kittens would be almost as difficult to organise.

The proposal to "kickstart" the hydrogen economy consists of bizzare stuff like getting the hydrogen from methane - bizzare because methane is easier to ship, store and use and could come from biological sources (not just kittens) or from coalbeds.

These turbines sound fantastic in very small situations and it appears a journo is missing the point by wondering what big arrays would do and setting up for dissappointment.

Re:Clean Power Plants? (0, Redundant)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944676)

From clean nuclear plants that require no mining

WTF? Where are you going to get your uranium from without mining? Kittens?

Re:Clean Power Plants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944826)

Yes [uncyclopedia.org]

Re:Clean Power Plants? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944876)

Please read entire sentences before commenting. Bonus points for making it to the end of the paragraph.

Re:Clean Power Plants? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945938)

from wind power is cheaper and, as a bonus : windmills are small, microgenerators: no dependency on the corporations. In fact, it's even better to skip hydrogen and use battery-powered vehicles. http://www.gizmag.com/go/6780/ [gizmag.com] The hydrogen-installation can be left at home to store electricity.

Re:Clean Power Plants? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945612)

Not to mention that even at that size, a large-scale operation of these would get to quite some noise level. Even a thousand whispers can get pretty loud.

Re:Clean Power Plants? (1)

GetSource (807184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944710)

The article mentions that his purpose was to create a personal generator, which sounds a bit more feasable than hundreds of them in an array ...
From the Article:

The millimeter size turbine engine project in MIT started in the middle of the 1990's when Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics Alan H. Epstein considered the possibility of creating a personal turbine which will be able to meet all the demands of a modern person's electrical needs...

Re:Clean Power Plants? (2, Funny)

brianosaurus (48471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944868)

Let's see... "Huge arrays of kittens" make a "QUIET [...] power plant". Yeah, right!

I don't even want to think about the litter box.

Re:Clean Power Plants? (1)

grumpy_old_troll (1049646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944902)

From the article, just before that comment:

Although industrial applications such as power stations made out of large arrays of millimeter size turbine might still be a distant dream due to the low efficiency level of the millimeter engine,
Whatever the fuel is, and wherever it comes from, large numbers of small turbines would only make a sensible power plant if it's at least as efficient as a large turbine. The advantage to the small turbines is mostly the portability. Also from the article:

The best metric is energy per unit weight, about 120-150 w-hr/kg for current commercial Li-ion rechargeable batteries. We expect that 500-700 whr/kg can be accomplished in the near term, rising to 1200-1500 whr/kg in the longer term (for the engine and its fuel supply)
That means they're thinking more of competing with laptop batteries than power plants.

Re:Clean Power Plants? (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944920)

WTF? Where's the hydrogen coming from?

Mr. Fusion!

KFG

Re:Clean Power Plants? (1)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945414)

<quote>kitten engines could even be the basis for clean, quiet and cost effective power</quote>

Have you ever had kittens? clean, quiet and cost effective? Kittens forget to use the litter box, meow constantly and cost a fortune in replacement curtains/furniture/wallpaper/carpets not to mention the vet bills and food.

Dare I say it? A cluster?.. (5, Funny)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944146)

In the more distant future huge arrays of hydrogen fueled millimeter turbine engines

Imagine a, oh, whatever, cluster of these!..

Re:Dare I say it? A cluster?.. (1)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944432)

Imagine a, oh, whatever, cluster of these!..

I'm obligated to ask the following: ...But will it run Linux?

Huge arrays? (5, Interesting)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944158)

Doesn't turbines get more efficient as they grow in size? I mean, it's not like you'll see power plants use hundreds of tiny steam turbines - they use a few huge ones.

Or am I missing something completely fundamental about the ones MIT's made here?

Re:Huge arrays? (3, Insightful)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944234)

That's an interseting point. Perhaps the advantage is localised generation rather than isolated power stations. Perhaps they will be used in individual PCs, laptops, etc instead of batteries. I don't get how increasing the friction of a large scale system will increase it's efficiency, and I don't really get where the hydrogen comes from either.

I'd be a lot more exceited about artificial photosynthesis

Re:Huge arrays? (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944248)

I was wondering that myself; don't small ones have square/cube problems? Anyone here know about this?

Re:Huge arrays? (3, Funny)

mainform (892764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944284)

Well, huge ones might be useful on a large scale but they aren't practical on a small scale, hence the smaller turbine :)

Yep... (4, Interesting)

Goonie (8651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944288)

This microturbine research pops up on Slashdot every year or so.

The thermal efficiency is the real killer - according to this post [greencarcongress.com] , the expected thermal efficency is somewhere between 3 and 8%.

That's problematic for two reasons - one, a plant made of thousands of these would use way more fuel than one using a conventional piston engine and one generator, and, two, for small-scale apps it means you end up with a massive pile of waste heat to dispose of. As somebody put it - if you want 10 watts of power, that means 100 watts of waste heat to dispose of. Go put your fingers on a 100-watt lightbulb to get an idea of how much heat we're talking about...

Re:Yep... (4, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944540)

Go put your fingers on a 100-watt lightbulb to get an idea of how much heat we're talking about... Ouch, you insensitive clod.

Re:Yep... (1, Funny)

alienmole (15522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945066)

I just put my fingers on the bulb and didn't feel anything. Wait, does that mean I'm an insensitive clod?

Re:Yep... (4, Funny)

tftp (111690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945150)

No, it means that you need to turn it on first.

Re:Yep... (1, Interesting)

2Bits (167227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944682)

Ok, I'm a computer programmer (major in CS), and I don't know much about electricity, and electro-mechanical stuff. And the question I'm going to ask might seem like it's coming from behind, so please turn up your tolerance level a bit.

I have an issue with dealing with heat here. Since almost everything must deal with dissipating heat, why can't someone invent something that collect the heat and re-use it to generate even more power? Everyone is putting a lot of genius into all kinds of methods to dissipate the heat, why not collect it for re-use? Just like garbage, we used to think about methods to dump it, now we are recycling it to get a lot more value out of it. Heat is energy, why don't we think about collecting it then?

I'm no good in mechanics and chemistry, but here's some ideas that pop up in my head (without too much thinking, of course). We certainly can collect the heat, pipe it through some kind of pipe, which at the end, heats up some chemical gas. As the gas expand, the pressure created is used to turn some other turbine (which is then used to generate more power again). As the gas expands, it will eventually cools down, and come back down, and gets reheated again.

The chemical gas gets heated, turn some turbine, get cooled down, reheated again. The turbine generates more power, and at the same time generate more heat. The heat is collected and re-used again. And the cycle continues. Now, we lose some efficiency in the whole process, therefore, we still need external fuel to power the whole thing. But by recycling the heat, can't we make the whole process more efficient, and reduce fuel consumption that way?

Re:Yep... (2, Interesting)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944744)

I'm not sure I totally parse what you're suggesting, but here's the basic concept behind heat engines; (anything that produces movement, and thus possibly electricity, requires a difference between hot and cold. The term for this is a heat engine. They're also called carnot engines. ) "Waste heat" is heat that isn't sufficiently hot compared to the heat sink to generate much energy.

The energy generated by a heat engine is determined by the difference between the heat source and the heat sink. In other words, the difference between hot and cold. While there might be some use for waste heat (i.e. heating houses and roads in cold climates as they did back in my college, and possibly some other applications) anything that makes your heatsink in any way less cold will reduce the efficiency of the primary generator.

Re:Yep... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944898)

Since almost everything must deal with dissipating heat, why can't someone invent something that collect the heat and re-use it to generate even more power?

A few reasons (off the top of my head)...

You need very high temperature differences to get any reasonable amount of usable energy. This precludes most heat sources, because the difference is small.

If you try to get something to put out higher temperature waste, you adversely affect the operation of that device. Whether it's computers or air conditioners, you don't want them to get hotter or else you'll waste energy cooling them than you'll get out of your generator.

Equipment to harness that heat isn't cheap at all. With small amounts of energy to be had, it will take forever to pay off the initial investment cost of the equipment; never mind maintenance.

Re:Yep... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944912)

Since almost everything must deal with dissipating heat, why can't someone invent something that collect the heat and re-use it to generate even more power?
see combined heat & power [wikipedia.org] plants

Re:Yep... (3, Informative)

Bander (2001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944928)

Since almost everything must deal with dissipating heat, why can't someone invent something that collect the heat and re-use it to generate even more power?

Because of a little thing called the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Basically, if you use the waste heat to generate energy, you do so by exploiting the difference between the heat (probably stored in a medium that doesn't dissipate heat easily) and something else that's cold -- this makes the cold thing warm at the same time your heat storage medium cools down. Eventually, everything in your system reaches a uniform temperature, and the fat lady sings.

If the universe is a closed system... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_death/ [wikipedia.org]

More about the Second Law, including math and quotable quotes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermod ynamics/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:Yep... (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945246)

I don't know why everyone is getting down on you, but this is exactly what some power generating systems do. Look up "combined cycle power plant", basically what you propose is a power plant with two or more thermodynamic cycles... They're already out there.

Re:Yep... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945534)

There exists a type of device in a similar vein to your proposal: the turboexpander. This device takes at its input a fluid under pressure (say, in a chemical plant, after processing, at a point where the pressure is no longer needed) This fluid is piped through (what's effectively) a small turbine. As the pressurized fluid flows into the turbine, it expands (I'm not an ME, so this part is hazy...dang you PV=nRT people), and some of the energy stored in its pressure is transferred to the turbine, spinning it up. The shaft of the turbine is coupled to a device whose purpose is to do some useful work, such as compressing another fluid, or generating electricity. Obviously, this is also not a perfectly efficient system, but in some situations, it can provide a handy efficiency boost to a facility. It can recover some energy that would otherwise be wasted.
And by the way, these things are pretty small devices (not exactly small like those of the Fine Article...not exactly.), they usually would drive a generator on the scale of about half a kW. (small by comparison to the GE 9FB or another common gas turbine)
Also, fluid != liquid

Re:Yep... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945766)

Look into Sterling engines. that shoudl give you some insight into the limitations of the idea you're thinking. But, it may also give you ideas on how this could be used. For example, I use the heat from my two computers to keep my room warm in the winter. :) That's just a passive effect. You may find more benefit in using the difference between warm and cold temperatures to some degree, similar to OTEC stuff. Though I'm not sure how that could be done with anything other than the ocean. Keep on thinking, man! Look all that stuff up!

Re:Yep... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945718)

Considering how powerful a hydrogen explosion really is with a proper accelerant mixture, at that scale I'd only expect about that efficiency, until we get far stronger materials.

Re:Huge arrays? (1)

spydum (828400) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944406)

There is significant power loss just in the transmission of power from the production site to the consumer end. Having a power source closer to the consumer end would cut that inefficiency of backhauling power considerably..

Re:Huge arrays? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944568)

Power loss on the grid is about 7% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_power_transm ission#Losses [wikipedia.org] which is significant, but not so large that you save much if you are carting fuel to your distributed power generation system. High volatage power transmission does not have a whole lot of rolling friction. If the "fuel" is already distributed like solar or wind then you make power where you happen to be since it is really all the same. But saving on transmission losses is not a big motivator. If there is net metering, then you are competing at retail prices, and this can be an advantage for distributed power generation.
--
Save money with solar http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

What about coils/magnets? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944460)

So we have a millimetre scale turbine. That's only half the electrical generation problem. How much of a coil can you make at that scale? How strong of a magnet can you have at that scale?

Re:What about coils/magnets? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944580)

I think the reporter missed the point on many levels - you would use this thing for mechanical work you want to do right next to where the turbine is. Forget the silly array idea when a big turbine would be so much better - think about stuff like rock drills with the motor at the head and just a fuel line going back or dozens of other tight situations.

Re:Huge arrays? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944814)

Considering the number of errors in that article I just assumed the writer didn't know much about turbines.

You're not the one missing something.

Moderator is a moron. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944164)

Oh come on, we all know that this sort of power generation from hydrogen is a clear violation of thermodynamics. This is bad form, even for slashdot moderators.

First practial use? (4, Funny)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944172)

Who's willing to bet that within a week of these things becoming operational, they're put to use by some MIT nerds making a portable air hockey set?

Re:First practial use? (1)

revolu7ion (994315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944266)

Who's willing to bet that within a week of these things becoming operational, they're put to use by some MIT nerds making a portable air hockey set?


Finally! Something worth logging out of second life for! Portable air hockey would make any life exciting...

Re:First practial use? (2, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944316)

It is MIT remember, it'll fit inside a matchbook and will have to be played with waldo arms but hey we did it. Wonder how many geek points they get for that one? Next challenge will be to make a Foosball table that will fit on the head of a pin and has to be played with a tunneling electron microscope.

Re:First practical use? (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944336)

Women everywhere will rejoice in the development of newer, more powerful...er...massagers.

Re:First practial use? (1)

Khabok (940349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945420)

whoah whoah whoah!

Imagine a self-hovering puck, and then imagine playing airhockey on any smooth surface.

Now imagine how much money that idea is worth.

Re:First practial use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945990)

Guided bullets.

What about our small neighbors? (5, Funny)

Loopy (41728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944222)

This is all well and good but what about all the little bugs that will get shredded in those little turbines? Are they going to paste millimeter-size warning signs? I think it's the least we could do for our tiny houseguests.

Seriously?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944390)

I can almost understand people complaining about wind turbines and birds, but give me a fucking break.

Re:Seriously?!?! (4, Funny)

lendude (620139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944474)

Your humour well has run dry - commence drilling elsewhere.

Re:Seriously?!?! (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945398)

Say that again when they refilm Shawshank Redemption and do away with the requirement that the maggot fed to Jake (the bird) have died of natural causes.

Yes that's right the animal rights nuts decided it would be cruel to the maggot. Any day now I expect to see a 'save the maggots' movement.

Re:What about our small neighbors? (1)

OldManAndTheC++ (723450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944656)

DANGER! Keep flagella away from spinning blades!

Mr. Turbine is NOT your friend!

Re:What about our small neighbors? (1)

RMB2 (936187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944950)

Won't somebody please think of the.... mosquitos?

Wait, screw THAT! Let's fire these babys up. They can cook my BBQ and help with the bug problem.

Re:What about our small neighbors? (1)

Samah (729132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945082)

I, for one, welcome our miniature turbine bug overlords.

Pretty hefty hype there... (3, Funny)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944250)

Yeah, it COULD revolutionize the whole world as we know it and make the Jetsons' lifestyle seem antiquated, OR...

A toy company puts out a few gimmick Pokemon-tied concept toys long after the end of the Pokemon marketing age, and nobody buys them. Despite the technological benefits of using the power components, the company management gets a sour taste of market performance and buries the whole thing under ten feet of peat and recycles them as firelighters. The technology is not used by other companies for a couple of extra decades because of the patents and other intellectual property entanglements. It is finally redeemed and used in an inadequately-explained Elvis-Presley-tied concept doohickey comes out in 2040 and sells from a Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue for $20K but only if ordered from the seat pocket from LEO during a Virgin Galactic flight.

Re:Pretty hefty hype there... (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944398)

Well, I see I'm not the only one that caught Good Will Hunting on TV the other day.

Re:Pretty hefty hype there... (1)

Falladir (1026636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944500)

If they can deliver on the claim of a five-fold improvement in energy density over Lithium-ion batteries, they will find a market. It's more convenient to plug in your laptop to recharge it, but for military applications, it would be great if a little fuel cell could power a gadget for five times longer than the current battery.

Moo (5, Funny)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944264)

Millimeter Turbins? Must be for really small Muslims.

Re:Moo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944494)

derka derka.

Re:Moo (4, Informative)

philip_bailey (50353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945854)

Millimeter Turbins? Must be for really small Muslims.

Turbans are worn by Sikhs, not Muslims.

Quick query (1)

Lacrymator (842893) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944274)

If they are that small, and that efficient, why are we not decentralizing power sources. I cannot believe they would continue to use transmission lines, and such.

Re:Quick query (1)

mainform (892764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944360)

They haven't managed to make them efficient enough for that yet. FTA:

Although industrial applications such as power stations made out of large arrays of millimeter size turbine might still be a distant dream due to the low efficiency level of the millimeter engine, It is not inconceivable that in the future more efficient millimeter engines will be able to allow for a competitive alternative to existing power manufacturing technology.

Re:Quick query (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944742)

. . .why are we not decentralizing power sources.

Follow the money.

KFG

Gah! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944294)

A micro-turbine is not a fucking battery! An ultra-capacitor is not a battery! A fuel cell is not a battery!

Re:Gah! (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944320)

Hey, if The Matrix can call a human being a battery, you can call ANYTHING a battery.

Re:Gah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944558)

> Hey, if The Matrix can call a human being a battery, you can call ANYTHING a battery.

"Be honest. He knows more than you can possibly imagine... on topics other than thermodynamics." :)

Re:Gah! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944722)

No, the matrix used the word correctly: they did in fact use an array of similar things together.

Just like an electronic battery is an array of electrochemical cells for generating electricity, the matrix held an array of people for some vague use not actually related to power generation (they had "a new form of fusion power" for that). The characters however (Morpheus specifically), believed it was for power but Morpheus is an unreliable narrator [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Gah! (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944774)

The reason why the machines kept humans around was clearly revealed by the reliable narator in the third movie: the architect. It's really simple: the AI isn't that great. They need humans for all those traditional AI sci-fi reasons: we're more creative, intuitive, etc.

Re:Gah! (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944864)

That's great, but can we run Linux?

Re:Gah! (0, Flamebait)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944350)

But if one hits a short member arab ruler on the head with a flashlight while he's wearing his micro-turbin, surely that's a sultan battery?

Ouch. I'm so sorry everyone.

They look like Norelco shaver blades (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944374)

Do they lift and cut as they're generating all that electricity, too?

description (1)

diablo6683 (556085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944394)

if this paragraph were read by peter griffin, it would at least sound funny.

Future Application (1)

fooger (1056076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944400)

I can't wait to see some millimeter sized turbines fueling some millimeter sized fans to be built into my millimeter sized pants thread to blow millimeter sized air onto my millimeter sized...leg hair

Size matters (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944404)

The thing about these is that they are so small. The figures given are not all that much greater than the Li ion batteries, so in terms of applications is transportation, one does a whole lot better putting five 5 gal gas cans in your trunk for a 1400 mile range. For compact applications getting more power in a tight spot is a great advantage. If you are carrying a lot of electronics this really helps in reducing the weight. But, I'm not sure you'd want to use these to replace the two stroke in an chainsaw.
--
1000 W/m^2 http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Size matters (0, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944808)

I'm not sure you'd want to use these to replace the two stroke in an chainsaw.

'Cause that would just ruin slasher movies.

"And now you're going to die. Mwuahahahaha!" -- whir.

KFG

Re:Size matters (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945280)

'Cause that would just ruin slasher movies.

Well, a movie like that might make vacuums even more terrifying than they already are. *shiver*

Re:Size matters (0, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945304)

My cat can type too, but she has a bit of a problem with spelling. My congratulations to you.

KFG

poor quality in the article: (1)

Falladir (1026636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944420)

"20'th" century?

"the Wright brothers Kitty Hawk which flew for the first time that year had 12hp" The author seems to think Kitty Hawk is the name of their plane.

And this is in just the first two sentences.

Re:poor quality in the article: (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944734)

Don't forget they flew one centaury ago.

Don't forget to read the comments at the very end. They are quite entertaining.

Re:poor quality in the article: (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945376)

The previus comment about the trbine is dead-on. I think the spelling scared half of the commas out of the text.

SUSPENDED (1)

kybred (795293) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944448)

This Account Has Exceeded Its CPU Quota

They shoulda had some of those turbines powering their servers!

A progressive achievement (1, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944546)

I hope this works out. I am interested in any invention that provides an environmentally clean method of power generation. The final goal of which is to increase the available per capita of energy. Forget conservation. The true progressive ideal is to find the means to allow for an increase in personal energy consumption.

Re:A progressive achievement (1, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944752)

I agree, the motivation to conserve is to reduce environmental impact, (or to save money) but it is not a virtue in itself. I would rather not even use the word conserve. I'd much rather see a goal to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. In doing that, I'd like to create a situation where we can use as much power as we like, play with it, enjoy it, leave the lights on all night just for fun (though draw the shades cause I like to see the stars when I'm out at night). Right now we live in a scarcity driven energy economy and this is no good at all.

The potential for renewable energy to provide much more power than we use now is clearly present. The Sun provides more than enough power directly and it also drives wind. What has been lacking up until now is large scale solar and wind power fabrication capacity. This is what makes these sources cheaper than coal which has already taken its scale advantage.
--
Solar: its abundant http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Hydrogen (0)

Trendy.Ideology (1058410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944566)

Unless I'm misunderstanding the questions people are asking, the idea of Hydrogen comes from the fact that they've been developing ways to use it as a fuel source for quite some time now.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle [wikipedia.org]

Similar to how they have already (I think) developed an engine that runs on some kinda corn oil, that costs like 5 cents or something ridiculously cheap along those lines, per gallon.

http://www.engr.psu.edu/newsevents/EPS/v13n2_1997s pring/corn.htm [psu.edu]

Something about the numbers doesn't add up... (4, Interesting)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944648)

Let me see if I get this straight:

He says that he expects the initial products to be about 500-700 Watt-Hours/kg. and to, potentially, go as high as 1200-1500 Watt-Hours/kg. in the distant future.

My understanding is that this thing is supposed to run off of Hydrogen. It'd almost have, to as many consumer electronics are run indoors and most other fuels I know about give off toxic fumes when used in combustion engines.

Hydrogen has an energy density of ~33.3 Watt-Hours/kg. ( http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2005/MichelleFung.s html/ [hypertextbook.com] )

Now, assuming that the weight of the turbine (~4mm square) and packaging is negligible, most of the weight is fuel. In that case, we are looking at an efficiency of 1.5% - 2.1% for the initial models and 3.6% - 4.5% for the extreme upper end of what this guy thinks is foreseeable with this technology. 1.5% - 4.5% efficiency? That's horrible! Remember, pure hydrogen doesn't exist naturally on this planet. You had to spend large amounts of energy in the first place to produce the hydrogen that will be stored in these batteries (how exactly they plan on storing it I don't know because even the best, present day, techniques leak like a sieve because of the extremely small size of the hydrogen molecule).

Don't get me wrong, I can see where people would want something like this. The potential energy density compared to the compact form factor would open up new possibilities for portable equipment. There in lies the problem. The instant gratification of this technology will be almost impossible to fight. If every piece of small electronics had this kind of power source, cell phones, PDAs, laptops, etc. would become leaps-and-bounds more powerful and, at the same time, would be consuming energy at, potential, an exponentially higher rate.

The only way I can see this not becoming ubiquitous is if some other technology, like batteries, beats it to that energy density level. I don't think that's likely to happen because, even at these miserable efficiency rates, liquid fuels still have a massive lead in energy density over even the most promising, potential, battery technology known.

I hope there is an error in my math. Another possibility is that, as is so often the case, the author of the article doesn't have a clue of what he's talking about and had warped the facts of the story. The fact that he has suggested the possibility of replacing full-sized power plants with massive arrays of these turbines gives me hope that that's the case. If any of you have a correction for my math, please let me know.

-GameMaster

Re:Something about the numbers doesn't add up... (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944886)

You've got a typo which threw me, you want 33 kWh/kg. But isn't a low efficiency to be expected? One wants a big delta T for high efficiency and that is going to be hard to achieve on small scales. However, if these are very durable, connecting them is series rather than in parallel might get you something. You might build up to a very high delta T having one feed into another. But, then you've just built a modular large turbine so there might not be any point.

Since fuel cells don't depend of delta T, small versions of these can be pretty powerful and also efficient.
-
Solar, its not just for calculators any more. http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Something about the numbers doesn't add up... (1)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945090)

Ah, yes. I did intend that to be 33.3 kWH/kg. The math should still be correct though as far as the efficiency values are concerned. I typed 33.3 WH/kg. but assumed 33.3 kWH/kg. in my calculations.

Everything I've ever heard about turbine engines suggests that the smaller they get the less efficient they are. The efficiency numbers are completely in the realm I can believe based on that. I guess I was hoping that someone would find a mistake to suggest that the efficiency wasn't quite that bad. One potentially mitigating factor would be if the professor interviewed for the article had been thinking of, relatively, small cells when he mentioned his WH/kg. estimates. In that case, the packaging/turbine(s)/generator/electronics might, actually, represent a meaningful percentage of the package's weight. This would improve the efficiency value some but I doubt it would make a huge difference. That may be some of the difference he was referring to when he mentioned his initial release energy densities (500-700 WH/kg). versus his mature technology densities (1200-1500 WH/kg).

I forgot about fuel cells (god knows how, they're all over the place in the news it seems). They also have the potential to consume more stable fuels such as ethanol/methanol without emitting toxic fumes in enclosed areas. Hopefully, they mature before this technology takes hold.

-GameMaster

Wow, really?!? (1, Insightful)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944750)

In 1903 the Norwegian inventor Aegidus Elling became the first person to successfully construct a gas turbine engine which produced more power than it required to operate

Wow, really?!? In the last 104 years we haven't been able to reproduce a system which produces more power than it takes to operate.

Those guys must have been really smart. Maybe it was a cold fusion gas turbine engine.

Thermodynamics be damned.

Re:Wow, really?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945018)

You're a dumbass. The turbine generates power. The compressor uses it. Fucking learn something, shit for brains. It has to generate more power then it uses, or it will spool down quickly. Modern shaft turbines use about 40% of the power they produce to run the compressors.

Re:Wow, really?!? (4, Insightful)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945112)

Yeah. Really silly, huh?

But, just for fun (since I can't remember), which law of thermodynamics does the production of power violate?

I'm looking at 'em, but I can't find a law of conservation of power. I'm sure that's the one you meant, though, right.

Hmm... I guess I'm going to have to walk to work tomorrow. My car is currently sitting in the driveway producing no power (since none of it's components are doing any work at all), and thanks to xaxxon's newly discovered law of conservation of power, that means it isn't going to be producing power in the future, since it's previous means of doing so was by using stored energy rather than any form of power.

Incidentally, I think I'm going to have to cut this post short. I imagine it's not going to be too long before somebody realizes that computers have nonconstant power systems and it stops working. I just pray nobody gets around to doing the same to all life on this planet.

Re:Wow, really?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945180)

My we are sarcastic.... Have you forgoten the concept of a heat pump? I seem to recall that you get more thermal energy out than you put electrical energy in!!!!

High load!! (1)

Magic Fingers (1001498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944862)

This Account Has Exceeded Its CPU Quota

UAV? (1)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945092)

What is a UAV. Is it like an SUV but smaller - Urban Ant Vehicle?

Re:UAV? (1)

gavink42 (1000674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945356)

UAV = Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. They come in all sizes, from tiny to huge. See the Wikipedia article for more info and pics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UAV [wikipedia.org]

I want one (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945658)

Please can I have one of those micro SUVs...

Oh its UAVs... thats a shame!

Read the Comments (1)

Berachio (183633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945696)

The comments on the linked article is some of the funniest stuff ive read on the internet in many a moon.
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