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Unread 01-12-2023, 11:13 PM   #1
jadnashua
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Interesting Energy Stuff

1. A research group in Switzerland has come up with a prototype H2 generator that uses humid air and breaks it down into H2 and O2 that's powered by solar cells. Right now, it's not very efficient. There's lots of uses for H2, but lots of it today is made from NG, which isn't very green. If they can get the efficiency up along with a longer lasting module...H2 will become easy to make, and not require potable water or fossil fuels to generate it.
2. In Finland, they've been using a sand battery...essentially, they have an insulated silo, filled with dry sand, and with electrical heating elements powered by wind and solar. The silo has a liquid heat exchanger, and it is used for community hydronic heating. Been working for a year or so. They use excess capacity that otherwise would essentially be wasted, so it allows them to store it easily.
3. North part of Scotland, they have an ocean current powered generator. It sits between two islands that act sort of like a funnel to increase the water velocity. It's been working well, and they're engineering a much larger unit.
4. Using parabolic mirrors and focusing them on a central tower can heat a working medium over 1500C. That can be used to make steam to power a generator, or they've found it's much more efficient to extract H2 from steam than conventional electrolysis with liquid water.
5. Another company demonstrated using a crane and huge weights. When there's excess solar or wind power, the crane's motor stacks up huge, weighted blocks. When they need power (at night for solar or when the wind isn't blowing), the crane's motor becomes a generator as it lowers those blocks back down to the ground. No recharge life issues like lithium batteries and easily scalable.
6. A research group recently demonstrated a solar cell with an efficiency of over 32%, breaking a recent record of 30%. The best cells typically available for sale today are about 23-24%, and the economy ones are down around 18%. If they can get these to a point where they're life span and producibility matches the existing commercial stuff, that would be a major breakthrough...lots of research going on here. The best ones have limited losses over 25-years, so they're still useful for a very long time. Getting high efficiency and life is the holy grail of solar cells.
7. A Finnish company is making windmill blades out of wood...that's one issue with the composite ones generally used...they're hard to recycle and use fossil fuels to make their raw materials. They don't last all that long. Lots of stresses on some that can be nearly 200' long.
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Unread 01-13-2023, 06:14 AM   #2
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-yALPEpV4w

Whatcha think about this Jim?
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Unread 01-13-2023, 06:12 PM   #3
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Personally, I don't have an issue with nuclear power, but the NIMBY community makes it really hard. There are newer, small designs that are self-regulating that could solve lots of problems, but most of the older plants are running out of their local waste storage space, and the national nuclear waste storage facility was pretty much put on hold. It was also a big issue about transporting that material TO the proposed facility.

At least a few of the items listed in my post are ways to help even out the intermittent power levels from solar and wind. The solar arrays mentioned in the video pertain mostly to those that use mirrors versus solar cells. There are farms that have found some crops grow better beneath solar cells, so it's not 'lost' land. And some recent breakthroughs on how to recycle solar cells has shown some progress as well. As I mentioned, the better ones out there have warranties of 25-years where they'll still produce at least 90% of their original capacity, so they can last a very long time and that is expected to increase. Yes, this might be pushing the problem down the road, but there's also some time to work out solutions to the issue.

The ocean currents proof-of-concept plants have not shown that they kill marine life, and while the direction changes twice daily, it's predictable and highly reliable. I'm not a big fan of large battery storage facilities, but they do work. Likely better are a couple of the techniques I listed to store any 'excess'. One big useful thing if you had excess energy would be to make hydrogen with it, but that is only logical where you have excess fresh water...i.e., not a great idea out west where they're still in drought conditions.

The hydro power plant in Niagra Falls has used water storage for decades. They can basically almost shut the river down late at night to store water so they can keep the tourists happy when visiting the falls during the day, while still generating power. It takes a certain terrain and population density to make that technique work, but there are locations that could make use of it.

Then, there's the issue with big power transmission lines...NIMBY comes into play there as well. Power lines aren't alone in that, as gas and oil pipelines have big NIMBY issues, too.

Wind offshore would limit a lot of the big bird kills, but not everyone lives near a coast, either, which means more transmission lines.
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Unread 01-13-2023, 09:49 PM   #4
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There are ways to create nuclear energy in reactors that don't rely upon super heated water and water cooling, which is a large part of the problems with our current plants, as I understand them. And there are materials other than uranium that can be used in such power generation that are a great deal safer and produce far less waste. Not sure why more resources are not directed to that type of reactor, but perhaps there's a major problem that's hiding in the bushes?

The wind and solar sound like our saviors, but only until your consider their inefficiency and, of course, that every component still needs to be harvested and manufactured using our current fossil fuels for power.

I think that given our current knowledge and capabilities, nuclear is still the best option. Yes, there are some problems, but if we directed the efforts currently being used in our less rational (in my opinion) dash toward wind and solar, those problems could be dealt with. My customary disclaimer applies.
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Unread 01-13-2023, 10:05 PM   #5
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There has been work on nuclear power plants, and this is just one. https://news.yahoo.com/tiny-modular-...184500363.html

Now, while federal approval does not mean localities will approve installing one anywhere. I don't approve new coal, oil, or NG fired electrical power plants though. Coal should be phased out as soon as possible, followed by oil.

It still makes sense to keep up work on various energy storage techniques. And, I do think solar cells and ocean current plants make sense as well.

I have no big problem with offshore wind farms.
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Unread 01-17-2023, 08:51 PM   #6
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Had to look up NIMBY Jim, I might be one to share in that belief. When I lived in the Antelope Valley 20 years ago there were no solar panels to speak of, and they didn't have that huge sun tower. Going back and visiting its like commercial graffiti everywhere. Wind turbines and solar panels are everywhere.

I'm a big advocate of hiking and one of the things that makes the experience so enjoyable is not seeing garbage or much sign of human presence. I can't stand all this rush to litter the landscape in the name of "green progress". I'm also a big fan of dark sky ordinances where we don't have a free for all of light pollution. I like looking up and seeing stars. I find it rather weird to point out those things matter as we look into the future of what we are creating.

I'm far more able to get behind nuclear options and put more resources into making that as efficient and low impact as possible, including the infrastructure to supply it and make that infrastructure work with the landscape in the best way as possible. Makes way more sense to me when you have to weigh all the options out.
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Unread 01-17-2023, 11:55 PM   #7
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For the first time ever, a fusion reactor put out more energy than required to get it started recently. But, it will still take a long time before and if we get a commercial unit that can run continuously while doing it. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nuclear...es-2023-01-15/

There's tens of companies spending a total in the billions, not counting the US Government on this. Lots of smart people working on various different techniques trying to make this work.

We're still learning, but making progress. We can get hydrogen lots of places...there's a lot of water out there! And, the process produces helium. Hydrogen used elsewhere, either to burn or run through a fuel cell, makes water again. And, if you have a non-polluting way to make it, makes a neat, clean cycle. Helium actually has some interesting features/uses other than party balloons, too.
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Unread 01-18-2023, 09:05 AM   #8
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I’m all for alternative energy Jim, and I do like the net zero trends for homes. I remember reading when the Antelope Valley area was implementing codes to get new homes to be built with panels which was a good idea. The counter argument was these panels are now under the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain to have maximum effectiveness and that responsibility wasn’t on the electric company now even though you were feeding the grid with your excess power. (But also being paid when that happened).

My major complaint is we seem to be building this “green” world very short sighted in a lot of aspects in how it’s implemented and the eventual waste of all this stuff we’ve built. Which is exactly something a nuclear option has to deal with, but with much less impact, and more consistent, and less footprint overall at the moment.
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Unread 01-18-2023, 09:41 PM   #9
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There are all sorts of ways to save energy by making things more efficient. The building codes get updated, but execution isn't always done very well. This forum is one example of people failing to do tile work well. Inspections only go so far, and that's if they actually get done!

Europe has seen high energy costs for decades, and they tend to build their new stuff well. While NG prices here aren't too bad, our electricity prices, though have nearly doubled since fall, so some solar cells would be nice!

If I were to build a house, it would be very efficient. Likely with geothermal heat pump and enough solar and storage to stay off the grid. Did you know there are some insulating panels, about 1" thick, that have an R-90? Costs up front versus long-term savings is always a consideration.

We all can help by not using as much energy in our daily lives. That doesn't mean becoming uncomfortable or 'deprived', it just means thinking about how we do things.

FWIW, without things like building, plumbing, electrical, etc. codes, we'd have lots of problems. People complain about too much government, and in some situations, that may be true, but some good stuff comes out of it, too.
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Unread 01-19-2023, 12:05 AM   #10
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Please point me to those panels, Jim. 1” and R-90?!!!

I agree that building codes are necessary. However, you’ve pointed out very well that the execution isn’t so great. Emphasis is weighed too heavily on “passing and getting on with it” while the intent of those very codes are ignored, not understood, or just plain dismissed. And I understand why that’s the case: the codes are both substantially complicated and have an expensive learning curve.

I really wish we could concentrate on executing less codes…but to a more excellent level.
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Unread 01-19-2023, 04:18 PM   #11
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This company's stuff isn't at the top efficiency, but it's still pretty good! https://www.holcimelevate.com/us-en/...lated%20Panels.

This discusses the technique https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum...0materials.%20
https://www.holcimelevate.com/us-en/...lated%20Panels.

This video discuses it some https://youtu.be/H9pZvVsA7-s

Also note that vacuum insulated glass may start to become available meaning your windows could be orders of magnitude better than what's available today. https://youtu.be/r8K2dEcPRGc https://news.panasonic.com/global/press/en191212-2 https://youtu.be/3f6nVDoynFU


R-50/inch is more common, but one I found claimed R-90. I'd have to search for that a bit more. Here's a US Gov document on the materials. https://www.gsa.gov/cdnstatic/GPG_011-VIP.pdf

The issue is, though, that you can't cut or damage the panel, so it needs to essentially be bonded between two surfaces to protect it.
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Last edited by jadnashua; 01-19-2023 at 05:25 PM.
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Unread 01-20-2023, 07:07 AM   #12
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Tonto has worded it exactly how my thoughts are on the matter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonto
I really wish we could concentrate on executing less codes…but to a more excellent level.
We've lowered the skill set barrier to entry on amazing new products that are better then our past techniques, simultaneously requiring less discipline to attain said skill set to install said products. If we apply this to tile, I wonder if the data overall shows that even though we have the ability to create water/vapor tight showers, we are creating more showers that fail then say 30-40 years ago.

I bet this principle can be applied across multiple disciplines.... Now lets all go sip a beer and solve more of the worlds problems
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Unread 01-21-2023, 09:33 PM   #13
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Meanwhile, on the internal combustion engine front, some potential improvement here?
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Unread 01-21-2023, 11:27 PM   #14
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Neat concept, but it still isn't as efficient as using that fuel in a power plant and then using it in an EV. It's getting closer, though.

Green energy is still the better goal, while nuclear fission can help until we get all of the kinks worked out.
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Unread 01-23-2023, 11:39 AM   #15
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Gravity Batteries

I'd mentioned earlier about towers and weights to store energy in gravity batteries, but there are other ways to implement that...use some of the 550k abandoned mines in the USA. When you have excess energy from say solar or wind, instead of turning it off like is often done today, use that to move something like sandbags up to the higher parts of the mine, and when you need that power back, use regenerative braking on the motor to provide power back to the grid. Many of the mines are/were connected to the grid, they're mostly hidden, and sandbags and a motor generator already exist.
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