Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Going green: Powering it all

For the planned initiatives, a realiable and steady source of power would be a good thing, and of course choosing a green means for generating that power is the order of the day.

If the means established has enough of the desired features, there may even be the opportunity to connect it to the grid and sell surplus electricity to the power companies. A number of regions "out there" have good initiatives and processes for such things, making it easy to get connected, and offering nice rates. (for example, NC has, I believe, an easy plan in place for anything up to 10kWh) Here, things are a little more difficult...the capacity has to be greater than X, and it has to be consistent -- no wind/solar, unless you have a means to store the energy so that it may be delivered to them at a constant rate. Wind and solar are hard sells regardless, since it doesn't guarantee that they'll get anything from you. Additionally, last I heard, if you're after a rate greater than 2.5 cents per kWh, it has to go to tender -- at that amount or lower, though, it won't have to. (Meanwhile, elsewhere, two, three, even up to 15 times higher than that rate can be found)

Photoelectric, solar/thermal, and wind generation are nice, and will likely play a part in the overall design...I'll likely use them to augment the primary power source, though, rather than serve in that capacity. (Long term, if the whole shebang gets off the ground, I _would_ like to shift the primary source to solar, but that will only be possible with appropriate capitalization -- ideally generated from operating revenue...with the lessons learned in that implementation, I hope to establish a process that's easily duplicated and portable. If successful, it may provide a low cost means for power generation abroad, wherever it's needed most.)

I think I've got a pretty good handle on tidal/wave action power generation, and believe that this could prove to be an economically viable route to take at the onset, with a seemingly lower cost per kWh for setup and maintenance. It's been nice to see that more progress is being in this area...when the attention turned to some of the innovations for harnessing wave action out of Scotland, it made me think "ah, good, someone's on the right track". Theirs is a few steps removed from what I'd envisioned a number of years ago, but shows good promise. Me, well, I'll be seeing whether I can bring one of my old designs to light at long last.

Time permitting, I'll do an experiment or two this weekend to that end. In spite of the movies, with "1.21 gigawatts" popping to mind regularly, the interim goal is much more modest -- the planning at the moment is to provide a proof of concept for somewhere around 1 megawatt, although I'll be satisfied with 0.5 to 1 megawatts to begin with.

I'll let you know how it goes...meanwhile, wish me luck!


  1. I read your blog about relativity and mass of the fuel tank on a space shuttle, and have always had a similar nagging at the back of my head.

    Did you get a decent response to your questions? It would suck if you hit the speed of light then due to the time dilation the universe ended once you got there as the whole time space continuum kicked in.

  2. I did have a bit of a discussion on the matter for a while on one of the physics forums out there -- the people who frequented it were patient and as helpful as they could be. My biggest challenge (as usual) is wording things in such a way as to not be prone to misinterpretation...[sigh] ;)

    At some point in the next couple of weeks, I hope to do a follow-up to my original post, to go over the points that had been discussed.

    I'll try to sum a bit of it up here, without making some grievous error while still being clear (I'll fill in the details later as best I can): In order for you to measure velocity and the like, you'll always be measuring it relative to something that very nature, any such velocity will always be less than c (recall the equation for two objects who, relative to a stationary point, are each moving in opposite directions close to c...rather than the newtonian method where it would appear that they're separating at almost 2c, under relativity, they'll still only be seen separating at almost c). By the design of that equation used to determine separation velocity, v won't be greater than c.

    You can of course get arbitrarily close to c, and so time dilation will become more and more of a factor -- if you're hoping to return to a point while it has some sort of similarity to when you enough, and days/years/eons could pass in that 'stationary' frame of reference in a blink of an eye for the traveler.

    Taking a step over to the more 'practical' side of such travel, when aiming to attain as high a velocity as possible -- you'll always be moving relative to something...although sparse, you're never traveling through a complete vacuum, and at very high velocities, moving through that medium (and the background radiation, if I recall correctly), you're going to be bombarded with energy intense enough to be difficult to sustain life.

    There are a number of things about the general ideas that are still nagging at the back of my mind -- I'll try to incorporate those into the next relativity post in such a way that I'll be less likely to be misunderstood.

    Meanwhile, I'm interested in hearing any thoughts on the matter you may have :)