Friday, July 06, 2007

Small Scale Solutions

The image above depicts a Zotloterer Gravitational Vortex that can be used to generate electricity from a small head of water, and at the same time aerate the stream.
The aspect of the power plant reminds a bit of an upside-down snail. The water passes through through a large, straight inlet, then passes tangentially into a round basin, forming a powerful vortex (whirlpool), which finds its outlet at the center bottom of the shallow basin.

The turbine does not work on pressure differential but on the dynamic force of the vortex. Not only does this power plant produce a useful output of electricity, it also aerates the water in a gentle way.

Of course the use of water vortices has been pioneered by another Austrian - Viktor Schauberger, who was also known as the "water wizard". He floated hard-to transport heavy logs from remote regions of the Austrian forests, not accessible at the time by streets, to where they would be milled and processed. The feat was accomplished by carefully regulating the water's temperature and by inducing a rolling, longitudinal vortex motion in the water.

Look at this interesting approach to converting sunlight directly to fuel through artificial photosynthesis.
Natural photosynthesis is a good interim measure, but Brudvig and colleagues decided to design an artificial system to harness sunlight with greater efficiency, he said.

"Our goal is artificial photosynthesis, to move electrons not using chlorophyll," he said.

Brudvig is experimenting with manganese complexes hooked onto nano particles of titanium oxide and suspended in water.

Nano particles are the material of choice because they maximize surface area, essential to a process that depends on light.

Both manganese and titanium are common in Earth’s crust and relatively inexpensive, he said. Earth also has a large supply of water.

The manganese molecule can absorb energy from sunlight and use it to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. The plan is for the manganese to split a water molecule into one oxygen atoms, two positively charged hydrogen nuclei and two negatively charged electrons, he said.

These electrons are transported to the titanium oxide, where light boosts them into a higher energy state andconducts them to another reaction surface that create hydrogen, methane, methanol, and other fuels.

"Any fuel has excess electrons. We could transfer the moving electrons to make hydrogen, and then use hydrogen to turn carbon dioxide into methanol," Brudvig said. That is, in chemical symbols, CO2 + 6 e- + 6 H+ ---> (CH3 OH) + H2O.

Excess oxygen from the water would be released to the atmosphere.

Check out these Turkish phase transition tiles for keeping cool in the summer heat.

Or this architectural innovation using solar powered pumps and fans that could save up to 40% of the fossil fuels used to heat and cool the average home.

This Indian plan for generating electricity from plastic waste may help clean up landfills and trash piles.

Finally, this improved approach to radiant floor heating may help bring this energy saving technology to more new homes.

Hat tip keelynet.

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