Monday, September 16, 2013

Some Energy Basics

Some answers, can you guess the questions? 

Yep, I am asked about pumping water back up the hill about once a week. And I'm not saying 'never works' , only that you'll never get more energy out than is put in. 

In some cases it pays! If electric costs at night are 1/3 of daytime charges you could make money by using twice as much electricity to pump the water up than you will get out on the trip down through the turbo generators during daytime with rates 3X higher.

A rough approximation for power (Watts) you can get from water at a height is: Gallons per minute times feet of height all divided by 14. So with the given 12 feet and 1000 gal/min you could generate about 900 watts for 15 minutes starting with the 15000 gallon tank full. To fill the tank would take a bit more than 900 Watts for a little more more than 15 minutes, and so you would end up with a net loss of energy every time around this loop. You would be better off with just a wind mill  and some solar panels, and using storage batteries instead of the water tank scheme for storage.  

One HP is 746 Watts, so a 100 HP motor would require 74,600 Watts for however long it runs with a load. And if you want to use the motor as generator you would have to have 74,600 Watts of water power where you only have 900 Watts for 15 minutes, or 450W for 30 minutes, or 0.225 kWatt hours from you water tank. So a half HP motor would be more appropriate as a generator.

Start with these basic numbers and estimates, then decide on the size of the equipment to handle the available energy. A 100HP motor does not make 100HP unless you put that much energy into it, either electrical or mechanical shaft rotation. It only converts mechanical to electrical and vise-versa. And if you use too big a motor (energy converter) for the energy input you will waste a lot of energy in bearing friction, windage and other losses. So it is important to match your machinery to the energy source. Don't buy machinery before you determine what the available energy sources can deliver. Measure head and flow, wind velocity over time, or sunshine over time, then calculate Watts or kiloWatts available and see if this will meet your needs at a reasonable cost. With wind and solar you can install a bigger mill or more panels to get more kWatts while the wind blows or the sun shines. With water there only flows so much for so long on average and a bigger turbo-generator may not be able to run efficiently or at all during low flow periods or dry spells.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Explaining LENR theory... How does this work?

I wanted to add this excellent clarification by David Niebauer to my previous post. Here is his conclusion:
Scientists have focused on the strong nuclear force due to the immense power that can be released from breaking the nuclear bond.  Less attention has been paid to the weak force, which causes transmutations and the release of energy in more subtle ways.  Recent theories that explain many of the phenomena observed in low energy nuclear reactions (LENR) implicate the weak force.  We are now at the stage where theory and experiment begin to complement each other to allow for the rapid transformation of the new science of LENR.
Journalistic disclosure:  David Niebauer is general legal counsel to Brillouin Energy Corp.

And the following by Krivit,

“The amount of heat generated from the Pons-Fleischmann discovery resembled a nuclear reaction. The tritium and helium produced were characteristic of a nuclear reaction. A research community developed as a result of the Pons-Fleischmann discovery. Central to this community is a utopian concept and hope for a world fueled by a new kind of clean nuclear reaction.
But there was a subtle but significant difference with the underlying physical mechanism: It was based primarily on weak interactions and neutron-capture processes, not fusion. Despite the growing body of experimental evidence that revealed this distinction, and despite all the attempts that Pons and Fleischmann's followers made to try to make LENR look like fusion, no amount of varnish could change the fact: "Cold fusion" too, was a myth. But LENR, which does not presume or assert a fusion mechanism, is real. “

( the above By Krivit, emphasis mine, Rob)

I'm not big on hair splitting semantics so if LENR can heat my house without burning more expensive, CO2 producing fossil fuels, lets get this train moving!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Ultimate Renewable Energy

Take away message from ICCF18, THE Cold Fusion Conference.

1. Anomalous heat, with power density far beyond what can be obtained from chemical (outer electrons, burning) reactions can be obtained routinely and repeatably.
2. If it is not chemical then the energy must come from the nucleus or its constituents as is borne out by the clear detection of transmutations, even if neutrons and other high energy particles are below easily detectable (and safe) levels.
3. AHE, LENR, CF or whatever the name, is a real and imminently more useful effect than fission because it can produce the energy of fission without the dangers or pollutants.
4. Efforts are underway, worldwide, to bring the technology to market, even absent a widely accepted theory of operation, as evidenced by successful demonstrations by several companies.
5. There is no doubt that as more testable theories are proposed the 'effect' will become better understood and be optimized for a multitude of applications including energy production.

Opening Session of ICCF18    7/21/2013

All the LENR luminaries are here including Peter Hagelstein and some that I had met up at MIT's 'Cold Fusion 101' in January '13.
Peter handed me a 'LENR intro short course' sponsored by National Security Innovation Center (NSIC) that he had prepared for the early Sunday morning session that I missed. I'll be reading that until my eyes close right after this report to my friends and family.
I've got to say that the 200 or so attendees were top notch and many known to me by name and some by sight from their research, web activities, postings and previous meetings. I have the complete list so I won't mention any more names now. 
A great many of the big names I spoke with had renewed confidence that Rossi's 'E-Cat' is for real after the independent testing and reporting that took place a couple of months ago. At the same time, none could confirm having achieved similar power gains (COP =6) with any consistency and duration. So my question, often repeated, was how long before someone else hits the magic formula / potion / catalyst or conditions that make LENR a viable power producing reaction? I have a few other questions that I hope to have answered this week at ICCF18. All in all a great start.
Will keep you posted.

Hi Condensed Matter Physics or Anomalous Heat Effects (AHE) or LENR or Cold Fusion etc. etc. followers,

No I'm not making light. This stuff is serious. Ten to twelve hours a day spent at Mizzou U and I've already got a serious headache trying to wrap my head around all I've learned. Talking ( which is not my strong suit) and listening to many scientists here, I've learned a lot about the discontinuities in the thinking about an appropriate theory that covers all the observed phenomenon. I watched the live feed from the Defkalion demonstration where the input was about 1900 Watts and the output was 5800 Watts! OK, maybe not as impressive as a gain of 6 or 60 that others have claimed but impressive to put on this kind of demonstration at this venue of 200 + knowledgable people in the field. Defkalion said they will make all the data publicly available. I have no doubt that if there is anything deceptive going on, this bunch will be all over it in a nano second. 
Another long, exciting day tomorrow. Will tour the Nano Tech facility at 4:15 tomorrow and the SKINR (LENR, AHE) labs at 11 on Thursday. Best of all are the in-depth one on one 'poster board' discussions where all related and even remotely related questions are discussed. 

More impressions from ICCF 18 in Columbia Mo. 7/2013 and some links.

A very impressive group of researchers, scientists and engineers meeting to advance the cleanest, safest form of energy ever discovered. Nearly as powerful as fission or fusion, these Anomalous Heat Effects, (AHE) discovered over 24 years ago by chemists Fleischmann and Pons, were largely ignored at the time because there appeared to be no immediate way to create military weaponry (explosions with fallout and deadly radiation) using the clean, 'atomic weak force'. Now, after nearly a quarter century, we are about to exploit AHE to solve the bigger problems threatening to destroy us all.

AHE also known as LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) and cold fusion still has a huge image problem with the general public which will need to be addressed. When we can buy a hot water heater that uses no fossil fuel and very little electricity (less than a 50 Watt light bulb on average) and with that (and a $50 nickel and hydrogen fuel cartridge) heat your whole house for a year and give you copious hot water as well, the image problem will disappear. 

The next hurtle for this to happen is regulatory (UL, CE) approvals and certifications. This being a brand new technology for home use, with a poorly chosen name and lots of vested fossil fueled interests... well, you can see that this will take a little longer even though similar devices already exist and are being tested with positive results.

Someone commented that the tools to be able to elucidate LENR phenomenon are just now being developed. I think this is only half the reason for the lethargy in LENR R and D.
It is not so much that research tools are lacking, it is more that the young scientists with the energy and zeal to apply them are absent. This became clear to me as I scanned the auditorium at ICCF18. My guess is that the average age of the 200+ attendees was somewhat past retirement age. Our educational system and the way we fund it may be the cause. Hopefully, renewed emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) will help reverse this, but only if we are willing to fund education more equitably, not based on local wealth.
The Defkalion Reactor Cross  Section 195mm X 213mm, 6KW heat output

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The current state of LENR, aka Cold Fusion

Will LENR break out this year? I went up to MIT for a couple of weeks in January 2013 to try to answer that question and a few others I had.

Years ago (1989), when Pons and Fleischmann were attacked by physicists, MIT and others, I had also given up hope for a solution to the ever present energy crisis as well. After all, if MIT (hot fusion) physicists say cold fusion is impossible why should I disbelieve them? There was also the lack of a theory to explain the excess heat, apparent fusion reactions, transmutations, helium 4, no measurable radiation or radio-active elements left after the LEN Reaction ceased.

But then I came across a report by Dr. Eugene Mallove and learned (again!) why I should not believe those with self serving interests. In the years since Fleischmann and Pons cold fusion was discredited, research funding withdrawn, patents denied, and careers and reputations destroyed for even attempting to work in the field. So very little progress, until recent years, when Andrea Rossi re-ignited the field with his claims. Unfortunately Mr. Rossi's background is not without blemish. So, even though he may have hit on the magic catalyst to get the reaction to work more reliably with outputs of 6 to 40 times input, the skeptics had a field day.  I got excited, particularly over the fact that Rossi claimed to make his 'Ecat' work with ordinary Nickel and Hydrogen instead of the more exotic materials (Palladium, Deuterium) that other researchers had widely reported to produce excess heat well beyond what chemical reactions could produce.

There are now many companies involved in LENR research and many LENR patents have been issued.  Theory is slowly catching up to explain the phenomenon and the observed and measured data  experimentalists are producing world wide.

To be continued...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

OK, You've measured head and flow, what's next?

Assuming you have some good figures for head and flow your next step should be penstock sizing. Go bigger when in doubt. The pipe doesn't cost much more compared to the labor.  If you had 200' of head, that's great, how long a pipe will you need? Have you measured the flow through a couple of seasons? If you email me some pictures with someone standing in the stream I can give you a ball park flow figure.  
Also check with local water resources authorities for flow data. Or take some rough seasonal measurements as explained on my blog. You'll want to size your power plant so that you will have enough water to run 95% of the time. This is why sometimes it is better to have two turbines of different sizes so when you don't have enough water to run the bigger unit you can at least make some power with the reduced water flow in the smaller unit. The head is constant, but the flow is the variable to be able to adapt to. The best way to adapt using a PaT is to have two.
Pump/motor working asTurbine/generator units are cheap and it is nice to have two PaTs in the powerhouse, one for low flow and one for high flow. It also gives you a backup power source incase of breakdown, maintenance or repairs.

Concentrate, and don't skimp, on the  intake structure, penstock and powerhouse first. If you run out of money with those three items, just get a split case pump on Ebay save the $9K to 12K you'd be paying for an 'engineered system'.  For this site you would be looking for a 3X4X12 with a 20 to 40 HP, 3 phase motor. An 'end suction' centrifugal pump will also work but is somewhat less robust. 

Here is a source of used steel pipe on my Blog.

How far a distance is your planned home from the planned powerhouse? I'm asking because most 3 phase motors can be set up for 480V so you can transmit power over longer distances with thinner wire and then using a step-down transformer at the house will give you better regulation plus the standard 240V/120V service.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Turbine Speed, Torque, Flow, Pressure, and Efficiency Relationships

Here is some information you may find helpful in evaluating speed torque flow and power relationships in rotating machines. The graph showing these relationships works for most any rotating machine once you recognize that Volts, (the pressure pushing electrons) is analogous to water pressure, and current (Amps, the flow of electrons) is analogous to flow of water. And just like head Pressure x Flow= Watts so too Volts x Amps = Watts. Consistent units of measure have to be used to have this work out to the same numerical values.
In most well designed turbines, the runaway, or no load speed is ~1.8 to 2 x rated load speed. This means that under no load conditions the water slides by the impeller surface, without transferring any energy because they are moving at nearly the same speed. Another feature of the runaway speed is that the turbine output shaft torque is zero, (nothing loading it) no matter how much water flows through the machine.

The mechanical power is therefore null (about twice the rated speed multiplied by zero torque). The torque will rise by applying an external braking torque (the electric generator and its electrical load does that), while the speed will decrease, and that means you will start harvesting power (the water slips partially by the impeller, partially "pushing" it = energy transfer). You are moving (left on the speed axis) towards the best operating area where you will have rated torque, speed, and power.

Note that water consumption or flow also decreases so you are getting more power for less water and better efficiency. For simplicity the torque and flow plots are shown as straight lines whereas in most cases these curve, particularly near the ends.

Compared to this best operating point, if you apply even higher braking torque ( or electrical loading), the turbine speed will go down, while the torque will go up. You will ultimately reach the standstill point (turbine stalling), where the impeller is standing still, the water hits them with the greatest force (torque around 2 x T normal). Again, the power is null (zero speed multiplied by twice the rated torque). Basically, while you go from zero to runaway speed, the torque decreases with the speed, from 2x Tn at zero speed, to zero torque at 2 x rated speed. If you multiply this torque characteristics with the speed, you will have the power vs. speed curve, which is the yellow hill shaped graph, having it's maximum around midway between the speed extremes, 0 rpm and No Load rpm.

Note that for best efficiency, you will want to increase the turbine loading a bit, by reducing turbine speed (with a slightly larger pulley on the turbine, while maintaining synchronous speed on the generator). If you are just looking for maximum power (as when water pressure and volume are free and plentiful) run at a higher speed where the (yellow) power output peaks.

Here is a slightly different explanation (not mine) from the point of view of a pumping application:

Centrifugal pumps are bound by the Laws of Affinity. With respect to the speed of the pump, here are some facts. There is only one way to increase or decrease the head (pressure) that a centrifugal pump will produce. That is to vary the "tip speed" of the impeller. If, for instance you have an impeller with a 5" diameter, and it is spinning at 1750 RPM, the tip speed would be 20.825 fps. There are two ways to increase the tip speed you can 1) - Speed up the driver (say from 1750 RPM to 2000 RPM) 2) - increase the diameter of the impeller thus increasing the travel of the tip of the impeller in each revolution. Now the Laws of Affinity say that the Head changes in proportion to the square of the speed. That is how you can predict the head you can get from the impeller. These laws also say that the flow changes in direct proportion to the tip speed. As you can see, these predictions are based on the CHANGES in the tip speed. The flow, for instance, is relative to the height and type of the impeller. A wider, thicker if you will, impeller delivers more flow than a lower, more narrow impeller. So you see where i am going with this. The element that is missing is satisfied by - testing. You test the impeller and adjust as necessary with predictable calculations. 
"The Commoner"

Happy Hydro