Steam power has been around since Hero’s Engine and has been applied to many inventions in the areas of heating, transportation, cleaning, and power generation to name a few. With modern technology steam can be put to use much more efficiently than ever before and is currently used in many high-tech devices and systems.
With the heat of summer broiling us all I went back to my thoughts on steam for use in everyday life. Steam can be produced through different forms of external combustion systems but my favorite is solar since it’s free and you can get it in a super-hot concentrated form with a simple lens but of course only during the daytime. That one drawback of not having solar power 24/7 (unless you are at one of the poles) kind of keeps it from being used mainstream but I have an idea on how it can still help out.
So here’s what I’m thinking of:
Put together a small steam turbine that is completely sealed to minimize maintenance and make sure that it has an antifreeze agent in it for those cold winter nights if it’s used in a polar or northern climate. Attach the output shaft to an alternator/generator and with the proper switching system connect that to your house/business power line. To get the steam, have the top of the system incorporate a point where the water flows into a small black heat exchanger that sits under a Frensel lens that is in a seperate frame to allow it to pivot for automatic sun alignment. This is more efficient than solar cells and the system could also incorporate other heating elements to store excess heat for other uses. Granted, it’s not perfect but it could be made small enough to be placed in a backyard, mostly enclosed in a cabinet, and would be nearly silent. The perk would be that the sunlight that is making your outdoor life unbearable could be powering the air-conditioner that makes your indoor life heaven without putting strain on the electric coop grid.
Here is another thought on this. What if we moved the whole system into an electric car? The steam turbine sits in the engine compartment with the electric generator/alternator and a control switch automatically diverts electricity to either the batteries or the electric motor depending on need. To get the concentrated light, the entire hood of the car is a Frensel lens. So, if you leave your car parked out in the sun all day, it would have the batteries all charged and depending on the climate and available sunlight, it could constantly be running the air conditioning in the summer or cycle the heat in the winter so when you got back to it you would be comfortable from the get go.
Think about it.
Alot of work has been done with the Kinect system which, is built around the stereo optic vision that many creatures on this planet have except this system includes an infrared light that doesn’t occur in nature. And NASA has been sending out Mars probes with similar stereo cameras to produce three dimensional images so that we can get the illusion of being there with just a pair of special goggles.
The Kinect system has been taken apart by hobbyists to find other applications for it and some presentations on the internet have shown some very creative uses other than controlling huge tesla coils. What I want to know is, could you use a stereoscopic vision system to observe, identify, track, and monitor vehicles on a roadway to determine their speed?
So here are my general thoughts on this:
A stereo camera system is mounted with the lenses a known fixed distance apart and is set at the side of a roadway such that it views both oncoming and outgoing traffic. A computer has the constants for the distance between the lenses and also a stored grid that gives it the understanding of how far away objects must be relative to their position in the field of view.
When a vehicle enters the field of view, the computer identifies it by displaying the live video of the view with an overlay color that follows the vehicle and above it displays the speed of that vehicle. The computer should be able to monitor multiple vehicles at once showing the individual speeds of each vehicle simutaneously.
My thought is that system be used in law enforcement to more accurately show which cars in a traffic flow are going the allowed speeds. Vehicles within the parameters could be in green, borderline in yellow, and exceeding speeds in flashing red. The downside, for violators, is that since this system would be optical there would be no radition detectable with a scanner except for night time when an infrared floodlight would be needed.
Since there is the technology to basically build items from the molecular level, I now want to know if it would be possible to build an electric generator at that scale. My thought is that by creating a small capsule with a free-floating molecule within it that, when heated, would vibrate within the capsule and from that movement generate an electric current from one side to the other of said capsule.
By taking trillions of these capsules and linking them end-to-end, side-to-side, you create a solid material that consistently generates electricity while it is warm. The warmer it is, the more power it generates.
The end result would be a powersource that could be in any physical shape and could be used to recharge batteries when more power is required.
06 . 28 . 11 – UPDATE:
The University of Minnesota has created a new material that can create electricity directly from heat without a mechanical action.
Gasoline, being a hydrocarbon, has some unique properties that don’t exist in the properties of the envisioned replacement of ethanol. Of course you can burn both substances but ethanol is an alcohol and burns at a different heat, provides different compression, and can be a problem with some plastics and rubber materials.
Despite the critical views of ethanol because of costs related to production, it still is renewable and unless you’ve got access to a quick way to make oil from scratch ethanol is a good choice for the future. I’m not worried about the politics of ethanol but rather just it’s properties in that I want to know if ethanol can be blended in a different way to come up with something that more closely matches the properties of gasoline so that it can be burned in a gasoline engine without modifying the engine or the fuel system and yet still creating a completely renewable fuel.
What I propose is to take pure ethanol (E100) and blend in pure bio-diesel (B100) to a point where the new blend resembles the properties of gasoline and will run in a gasoline engine without modifications.
I have sent this idea to a couple ethanol companies but each time I send something their way I get nothing for a reply. So, here it is for anyone to put their take on it.
I have collections of ideas and they just sit in files and although I try to contact people to explore my ideas, I feel as if the information is not really going anywhere. Some things do get bounced off of friends and family in an effort to refine my thoughts but in the end I rarely get to a point where I can actually make something from the stuff I come up with.
So, this page has been created to display only the ideas I have on devices, processes, and concepts I think that could be developed and if something becomes of them then that’s great. Of course you won’t see every idea I have but a vast majority of them will appear here and if you want to discuss that idea here, please do so.