Herr Doktor Hüttlin’s magical Kugelmotor
From Gizmag via John D comes an invention from the Black Forest area of a spherical engine that can drive directly, generate electricity or store energy from braking in the motor itself. There seems to be considerable potential for it as a range extender in plug-in electrics.
“Pre-production prototypes of 1.18 liter capacity have been in testing for some months and power output at present is 74kW (100hp) at 3000rpm with torque up to 290Nm (213ft-lb). Dr Hüttlin expects efficiency to increase by another 40% with reduced bearing friction and optimization of the combustion. The engine weighs 62 kg and consists of only 62 parts, while a conventional engine has at least 240.”
Hydrogen car technology hasn’t gone away, but may be on the threshold of mass distribution, according to this BBC report I heard on NewsRadio.
The technology involves a fuel cell which makes electricity which powers the car. It works through a chemical rather than a combustion process. It is said to be cheap, has a range of 500km and a refill takes five minutes.
I said “cheap”, but everyone knows making hydrogen is expensive, right? What I heard, as I recall, mentioned a new process of producing hydrogen from a bacterial hydrolysis cell.
Solar reaching saturation point
From the Courier Mail we are told that applications for rooftop solar systems were being rejected in areas where Queensland’s high uptake threatened the safety and reliability of its network.
Following advice from engineering experts, no more systems will be automatically approved when the penetration of solar photovoltaic systems hits 30 per cent in neighbourhoods.
It seems homeowners are being invited to contribute to grid upgrades.
From tidal power to harnessing ocean currents
The interest in ocean currents is in the sheer amount of energy available. Also the supply is steadier and less rough on the turbines. But currents are slow, so they are looking at turbines designed to work at 1.8 or even 1.5 metres per second.
Problem is, if the speed halves the power output reduced by a factor of 8. Also they will have to convince everyone that they are not slowing down the current too much.
Will Australia miss global solar boom?
Giles Parkinson says that the IEA prdicts we will be souyrcing 60% of power from solar by 2060.
At a solar summit in Melbourne earlier this month, the Clean Energy Council warned that Australia had a five year window in which to seize the initiative in large scale solar or miss out on a huge economic opportunity. It warned that Australia, despite obvious expertise, risked being left behind because of the massive rate of deployment overseas of large scale solar – both PV, solar thermal and with storage – and the rapid fall in costs.
As the world’s biggest energy groups – GE, Alstom, Areva, Abengoa and Siemens (which has abandoned nuclear) – focus more on their solar technologies, and invest billions in new projects, Australia needed to accelerate its deployment and knowledge so that it, too, would have expertise that it could export rather than import.
Tokelau leads the world
Shanghai struggles to save itself from the sea
If you check out the Fire Tree flood maps you’ll find that large areas of coastal China will go squishy very quickly with sea level rise.
Shanghai with 22 million people is in the front line and has long been busy taking adaptive action. However, they are not neglecting mitigation, including this:
Still, half of the city’s power comes from coal, a high carbon-emitting fuel. To emit less greenhouse gases, Shanghai must consume less energy. To that end, regulators have ordered more buildings to be equipped with solar water heaters. They have also doubled electricity prices for some inefficient industries that are high electricity consumers, including steel, cement and leather makers.
They are serious.
Ports generally are ill-prepared
UNSTAD is trying to promote more vigorous planning for sea level rise by port authorities. Some 80% of trade is water-borne. With 4 feet (1.2 metres) of sea level rise, about three-quarters of the freight facilities and non-freight facilities at ports would be inundated.
On average the world’s oceans are 3.6 kilometres deep with a mass of 1.37 billion gigatonnes of water. The average temperature is, I understand, 3.5C, so the capacity for storing energy in the oceans is massive.
Around 90% of heat trapped by greenhouse gases ends up in the ocean.
Recently Roger Jones linked to an excellent post by Kevin Trenberth on the earth’s energy balance. At the end of it Trenberth tells of a new study which finds that energy can easily be “buried” in the deep ocean for over a decade. Whence it can emerge and contribute to surface warming on land as well as sea.
While the heat is buried in the deep it can do work like melting Antarctic ice. When it emerges we could be in for some catch-up surface warming.
It should be noted that this study was done with models to explore possibilities. Trenberth says we now need observational studies, which they plan to do but are awaiting better datasets.