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Author Topic: Utilising Wasted Energy  (Read 5028 times)

Offline Roy P

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Utilising Wasted Energy
« on: 08/06/2006 19:55:35 »
I've always thought that all the machines in homes and at sports centres (rowing, running, cycling etc.) could be adapted and wired up to the national grid.

Surely this isn't as daft as it sounds?

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another_someone

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #1 on: 08/06/2006 20:48:10 »
quote:
Originally posted by Roy P

I've always thought that all the machines in homes and at sports centres (rowing, running, cycling etc.) could be adapted and wired up to the national grid.

Surely this isn't as daft as it sounds?

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I had a few times consider the concept myself.  Not so far as actually pumping the energy back to the grid I don't think there would be enough to do that, but at least using the energy for lighting and air-con.  I doubt that the average human will sustain more than HP of output, which would be about 350W.  Even if you have a dozen or more people doing that, it would still be measured in a few kilowatts (and for much of the time the machines would be idle).



George
 

Offline realmswalker

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #2 on: 08/06/2006 21:32:12 »
It would be beter to start at every one not wasting energy, turning off lights and such...
 

another_someone

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #3 on: 08/06/2006 21:48:18 »
quote:
Originally posted by realmswalker
It would be beter to start at every one not wasting energy, turning off lights and such...



Why not go all the way and ban the sales of lights, so no-one need switch on the light, so the issue of switching them off becomes irrelevant.

If lights are ever switched on at all, one will have to live with the reality that they will consume energy.

Ofcourse, you could simply say that gyms should be banned, since the energy used in lighting and cooling them are all wasteful, and thus this whole discussion about whether the energy used by people working out in gyms can be utilised to light and cool the gyms, since the gyms will not be there to be lit and cooled.



George
« Last Edit: 08/06/2006 21:51:12 by another_someone »
 

Offline realmswalker

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #4 on: 08/06/2006 23:15:18 »
nono i meant that when they arent being used lights should be turned off...
 

another_someone

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #5 on: 09/06/2006 01:19:41 »
quote:
Originally posted by realmswalker

nono i meant that when they arent being used lights should be turned off...



This is fine, where appropriate; but not not mitigate the benefits that can be accrued in using the energy generated from these sources in order to power the lights when they are being used.



George
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #6 on: 10/06/2006 09:18:41 »
The most practical idea in this vein is the "do it yourself" commuter train. The passengers in a reasonably full commuter train could generate plenty of energy to drive the train along.  This energy could be "harvested" by using pedals or possibly a lever pump to generate electricity to charge batteries to run the motors.  This input energy could be monitored for each person and you would be charged for your journey based on the amount of energy you put into the system.  Athletes might be able to manage a free ride!  There would of course  be a smallish fuel based generator in this hybrid fuel electric system to allow the train to get around when it had very few passengers in it.

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« Last Edit: 10/06/2006 09:21:52 by Soul Surfer »
 

another_someone

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #7 on: 10/06/2006 11:11:14 »
quote:
Originally posted by Soul Surfer
The most practical idea in this vein is the "do it yourself" commuter train. The passengers in a reasonably full commuter train could generate plenty of energy to drive the train along.  This energy could be "harvested" by using pedals or possibly a lever pump to generate electricity to charge batteries to run the motors.  This input energy could be monitored for each person and you would be charged for your journey based on the amount of energy you put into the system.  Athletes might be able to manage a free ride!  There would of course  be a smallish fuel based generator in this hybrid fuel electric system to allow the train to get around when it had very few passengers in it.



Sounds very like the rail equivalent of a trireme.

The trouble is that at least half the time trains are running at well below their capacity, and sometimes totally empty.  Also, to make the train substantially human powered you'd have to reduce the weight substantially (one problem with triremes is that they were too light, and too easily blown about by the wind not a good idea for a train, and en even worse idea if you have a high ground clearance, as most current trains do have).

Commuter trains in particular are generally overcrowded in the direction of the rush hour, but are virtually empty when travelling in the opposite direction.



George
 

Offline Hadrian

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #8 on: 10/06/2006 11:38:46 »
This all shows us just how we and the planet are miss served by our illusion of human inelegance. We create a world that needs more and more power to run it. We put high value the creation of wealth at the expense of being in balance with the planet we are on. We become so reliant on clever technology that consumes more that it creates. Now we are trapped in our own illusion that this is progress and that we are making a better world.  

Ps Hi George I know you will disagree with most of this but there you are. We are differen but i think you are cool all the same.

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.
 

Offline rosy

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #9 on: 10/06/2006 12:02:22 »
The big problem is that working extreemly hard an athelete can produce maybe half a horsepower... for an hour and collapse with exhaustion, so a train with maybe 1000 elite atheletes would have a power of about 500hp - so it isn't going to be going very fast is it...
 

Offline Roy P

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #10 on: 10/06/2006 15:05:38 »
quote:
Originally posted by rosy
so it isn't going to be going very fast is it...

I don't think the idea is that they should provide *all* the power, Rosy. It does seem to me that there is a tremendous waste of unused energy. I've just listened to the latest Naked Scientist podcast about the road-hump 'generator' -- sounds good to me!

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another_someone

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #11 on: 10/06/2006 16:42:46 »
quote:
Originally posted by Roy P

quote:
Originally posted by rosy
so it isn't going to be going very fast is it...

I don't think the idea is that they should provide *all* the power, Rosy.



I assume that in order to save weight, and provide adequate cooling for the athletes, most of the superstructure of the train will have to be dispensed with; otherwise you would either have to supplement the energy demands by an effective air conditioning, or simply allow the athletes to die of heat exhaustion (ofcourse, the exact parameters for this may depend upon whether the train is travelling through a Siberian winter or the Sahara during summer).



George
 

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #12 on: 10/06/2006 17:51:25 »
quote:
Originally posted by Hadrian
This all shows us just how we and the planet are miss served by our illusion of human inelegance.



While I agree that humans can be very inelegant, I assume the word you wanted was intelligence.

Making this substitution, I would agree that much of our intelligence is illusory (this is part of the trouble in trying to define artificial intelligence, that we can never really get to grips with how illusory our own intelligence is).  The problem is that simply removing that illusion does not give us the intelligence we lack.

quote:

We create a world that needs more and more power to run it.



We don't do anything that the world does not do for itself.  All life is demanding of energy, human life merely takes it a step further than other forms of life that is what has made human life so successful, otherwise, we would be just another ape roaming the jungles.

quote:

We put high value the creation of wealth at the expense of being in balance with the planet we are on.



People totally misjudge wealth.  Wealth was designed as a means of quantifying the value we place on things.  Ofcourse, for all sorts of reasons, not least the imperfection of all human creations, sometimes wealth does not accurately reflect the true value humans put on things, but this is not a fault of the system of monetary wealth as its application.

quote:

We become so reliant on clever technology that consumes more that it creates. Now we are trapped in our own illusion that this is progress and that we are making a better world.



It is true of all things, that the very success of a particular system causes those using the system to become trapped by that success, and ultimately that entrapment forming the seeds of their own destruction.  The Giant Panda is very successful at utilising bamboo, a resource that few other species have master; but that very success has created a dependency between pandas and bamboo, that the loss of the bamboo is threatening the survival of the panda.
   

quote:

i think you are cool all the same.



Not in this weather, I am not I am anything but cool.




George
« Last Edit: 10/06/2006 17:51:53 by another_someone »
 

Offline Roy P

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #13 on: 11/06/2006 16:38:41 »
One thing that might be considered is restricting consumer choice -- do we *really* need 50-odd different brands of toothpaste, for instance?!

Whoops! Sorry, Hadrian. I see you've posted along similar lines.

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« Last Edit: 11/06/2006 16:41:51 by Roy P »
 

Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #14 on: 15/06/2006 01:43:02 »
I do agree to the spirit if not the letter of "We create a world that needs more and more power to run it". Technically, we did not create this world at all. But we have created infrastructures that are highly reliant on intensive use of energy in the United States, and now that other nations are trying to follow our lead there is some question as to how to generate the energy required for this to happen. More nuclear? Drill deeper for oil? Burn so much coal that the sky will be filled with the smoke? It is possible to structure the systems on which we depend to use less energy, rather than let convenience and the marketplace drive everything we do. In the USA, we have many workers who drive two hours to work and two hours home, one person in a vehicle weighing 3000 lbs., which burns a gallon of gasoline every 15 miles. That is a lifestyle which our planet cannot support for every human. I do not envy these commuters, because they are wasting 4 hours of each workday in order to live in a home with an acre of grass around it.

The original question about reclaiming wasted energy to do useful work reminds me of hybrid vehicles. Every time you step on the brake, you send electricity to a battery, instead of heating up your tires.

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another_someone

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
« Reply #15 on: 15/06/2006 04:00:37 »
quote:
Originally posted by VAlibrarian
I do agree to the spirit if not the letter of "We create a world that needs more and more power to run it". Technically, we did not create this world at all. But we have created infrastructures that are highly reliant on intensive use of energy in the United States, and now that other nations are trying to follow our lead



This is not a case of the Americans invented a high power society, and everyone else is following.

Since the dawn of humanity, the leading nations of the world were also the leading consumers of energy, even if that energy was provided by wind, water, pack animals, or manpower; it has always been the case that greater energy usage equated to greater political power.

All that has happened is that since the industrial revolution, we have stepped up a gear in our use of energy, and removed the need for beasts of burden to provide that energy; but otherwise, we have simply continued the trend.

quote:

 there is some question as to how to generate the energy required for this to happen. More nuclear? Drill deeper for oil? Burn so much coal that the sky will be filled with the smoke?



I don't believe that, with current technology, the burning of coal should be any more polluting than the burning of heavy hydrocarbons.  You cannot avoid direct waste products (i.e. CO2), but I think we are in a very good position to remove all the other waste from coal power.

quote:

 It is possible to structure the systems on which we depend to use less energy, rather than let convenience and the marketplace drive everything we do.



If the marketplace does not decide, then the politicians do is that really preferable?

That aside, I do think we can learn to use energy more efficiently (in fact, we do, and even the US does, use energy more efficiently than it did); what I don't think is possible is to learn to use less energy.  The reality always has been, and always will be, that society always desires more to be done than it has the resources to do it with, so increasing the efficiency in the usage of resources will simply allow more to be done rather than a reduction in resource usage.  This is not a constraint of the marketplace, it is a constraint of the real world (it would be just as true if a bunch of chimps were running the world as it is if a bunch of 21st century humans run the world).

quote:

 In the USA, we have many workers who drive two hours to work and two hours home, one person in a vehicle weighing 3000 lbs., which burns a gallon of gasoline every 15 miles. That is a lifestyle which our planet cannot support for every human. I do not envy these commuters, because they are wasting 4 hours of each workday in order to live in a home with an acre of grass around it.



Been there, and I didn't like it, but what are the choices.

OK, you don't need the 15mpg car, but using public transport merely turns that 4 hours into 6 or 8 hours.
quote:

The original question about reclaiming wasted energy to do useful work reminds me of hybrid vehicles. Every time you step on the brake, you send electricity to a battery, instead of heating up your tires.



I agree totally here, I do believe that hybrid cars have a lot to offer, but it is not something that can be done overnight.

Also, I would like to think we could move towards fully computer controlled cars which could then better optimise their routes and their acceleration and other parameters to make the best use of resources and further reduce fuel consumption (as well as improving road safety).



George
 

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Re: Utilising Wasted Energy
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