The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Does anybody know how to convert explosive energy into useful electricity?  (Read 2013 times)

Offline trevorjohnson32

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 33
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
I have a patent that involves creating electricity from explosives and gravity. I was just wondering if anyone has heard of any other ideas to create electricity from explosives. The basic concept is to blast a cannonball up into the air catch it where gravity pauses it then use the weight of the cannonball to pull down on an elevator type generator until the ball is back to where you shot it from at which point you can re load the cannon and start the process all over again. So you re using explosives as the fuel in the system. The second method is instead of using a cannonball as the weight you can fill the cannon with water and blast the water weight into the air which I ve experimented with using fireworks as the explosive and a soup can in the ground as the cannon and I observed that an explosion set off inside a water cannon squeezes the water inside against the walls of the cannon causing the water to shoot straight up pretty high into the air . Now one of the advantages of using a water cannon is you can build it several hundred feet wide and deep enabling one to use a much larger explosive say a fission or fusion explosive to clear the water out. And yet another method in the patent involves pre cutting the earth in a way that you can detonate an underground explosive and pop the piece of pre cut material right out of the ground which I ve also proven works using fireworks and it works really well comparing the weight to the crater i made with a fireworks surface blast. so anyone can look up the full patent by google searching trevor hawthorne and patentscope


 

Offline chiralSPO

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Thanked: 143 times
    • View Profile
I'm not sure how useful that would be (and I wouldn't want to talk to the office of occupational health and safety about setting something like that up!)

I know of one method of converting explosive energy into harnessable electrical energy: Essentially a capacitor where the two plates are charged close to oneanother, and then forcefully separated by an explosion just prior to dumping the energy into the device (for instance a rail-gun). This delivers a very intense short burst of electrical energy, but would not be useful for sustained power.
 

Offline PmbPhy

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2760
  • Thanked: 38 times
    • View Profile
Of course there's a way. People do it all the time. It's called a automobile engine. The engine uses gasoline to create explosions in a cylinder. The explosion forces a piston to do the work of moving wires through a magnetic field which creates an electric current. That current can then be used to store energy if a battery.
 

Offline chiralSPO

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Thanked: 143 times
    • View Profile
Of course there's a way. People do it all the time. It's called a automobile engine. The engine uses gasoline to create explosions in a cylinder. The explosion forces a piston to do the work of moving wires through a magnetic field which creates an electric current. That current can then be used to store energy if a battery.

Ah yes, how silly of me, I totally forgot that one!
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8126
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Fuel-cells create electricity from explosive-mixtures like hydrogen [or hydrocarbon] & oxygen ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell
 

Offline chiralSPO

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Thanked: 143 times
    • View Profile
Fuel-cells create electricity from explosive-mixtures like hydrogen [or hydrocarbon] & oxygen ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell

Fuel cells extract electrical energy from compounds that could make explosive mixtures, but would not run very well on an actual mixture of fuel and oxidizer (oxygen and hydrogen will spontaneously combust in the presence of platinum metal). Most duel cells require hydrogen in very high purity (>99.9%), and then can have an air or oxygen inlet on the other side.
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4101
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
Explosives production requires considerable energy. The multiple ingredients of explosives must be collected over a wide area and transported to the factory. Transport of the finished explosives involves considerable risk to the public - an explosion could flatten a considerable area.

In contrast, today's fossil fuels are made of a single primary ingredient (eg oil or coal), and use the "free" transport of the atmosphere to deliver oxygen and dispose of waste products. Of course, as in any heat engine, you need some way of carrying away the waste heat, through water or air. There are accidents involving oil, coal or Liquified Petroleum Gas fires, but they are mostly flames, not explosions.

When energy is released in an explosion, there are gases of very different temperatures, moving at high velocities past each other - this produces lots of turbulence, which is inefficient. In contrast, modern turbines carefully guide streams of air in a sinusoidal path which gradually absorbs a maxium amount of energy from the heated gases, producing quite high efficiency in gas turbines. The continuous power from a turbine is easier to turn into continuous electricity (or other power source) than the pulsed power of explosives.

The turbulence produces noise, and this is incompatible with today's noise abatement regulations.

In the end, a cannon is a heat engine. You must let it cool down, which limits how often you can fire it (or it will melt and/or deconstruct itself catastrophically).

Explosives are great if you need to store a large amount of energy in a small volume, and release it very quickly. But this is not a good match to the needs of continuous power generation.
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4101
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
Wars are so dangerous that the risks of a little air pollution are generally ignored. But this can't be ignored on regular power sources which are meant to help people, rather than kill them...

Gunpowder is formed from a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. When this explodes, it would release considerable SO2, NOx and ash containing Potassium and other minerals from the charcoal. Air quality regulations require that the toxic waste gases are scrubbed from the exhaust gases.

Fitting a gas scrubber and ash precipitation system to a cannon sounds like quite a challenge.

Fortunately, current regulations don't require the CO2 to be captured as well!
 

Offline trevorjohnson32

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 33
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
Yes it is true, the cannonball method though as efficient as a car engine, is not a profitable business because the explosives have to be manufactured. The pre-cutting method is my favorite method for a business. One could convert hundreds of millions even billions of kilowatts of fusion power into weight displacement with one single explosion, then convert the kinetic energy stored in the weight into electricity by operating a turbine lowering the weight or other weight back into the cavity.
It would be by the use of fusion that this system is profitable be it by laser ignition or other. It would take a lot of these systems to replace fossil fuels but still could prove to be a profitable business and landmark use of fusion as a fuel.
The use of the pre cutting method doesn't seem to have a lot of fallout either. Most of the blast energy associated with fallout is absorbed into the one giant piece of rock being displaced with minimal gasses and things lingering around the cavity created. This would be important using fission primary fusion explosives to create the explosion and the cavity.
 

Offline syhprum

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3813
  • Thanked: 19 times
    • View Profile
I was tempted to quote the I.C engine as a method of turning explosions into electricity but for proper operation the fuel/air mixture must burn rapidly but smoothly anything like an explosion is most undesirable and great care in the design is taken to avoid this.
The first designers of I.C engines attempted to use gunpowder but better fuels were soon found.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums