Tag Archives: wind-power

Where to put the carbon…

Aside from nuclear power, one of the most enticing possibilities for solving problems of energy security, peak gas, and global warming is carbon sequestration.

windfarmBy burning cheap and widely available coal but storing the resultant carbon dioxide rather than venting it into the atmosphere means you (theoretically) have a cheap and low-carbon energy source.

The main issue is finding a place to stick all that carbon dioxide. Dave Goldberg of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory claims there is a vast area off the east west coast of Oregon under the Juan de Fuga Fuca tectonic plate which addresses many of the safety issues of carbon sequestration:

“We have insurance upon insurance upon insurance,” he said.

First, the center of the proposed location is about 100 miles off the coast, obviously far away from human settlement. Second, the impermeable sediment cap on the permeable basalt reservoir is hundreds of feet thick, creating an effective seal for the compressed CO2. Third, when CO2 mixes with water inside the basalt, over time it turns into a variety of carbonates, which are, essentially, chalk. Fourth, if there were an unforeseen leak, in deep water, CO2 forms into icy hydrates in the water, preventing it from floating up to the surface.

As to the UK: what about using the recently emptied North Sea oil wells as a carbon sink?

It is becoming clear that if we are to create a genuinely zero-carbon (or even low-carbon) economy we are going to have to embrace nuclear power and carbon sequestration, as suggested in Plan D of David David J. C. Mackay’s excellent (but unfinished) free ebook Substainable Energy – Without the Hot Air. The evidence is mounting that wind power, solar thermal, and photovoltaics don’t work well enough.

[story from Wired][image from Scott Ableman on flickr]

More biomimetics – whales and wind turbines

Biomimetics: design solutions from the natural world. Futurismic has covered this kind of thing before, but the examples we’ve blogged about were relatively intuitive.

Iridescent beetle shells as inspiration for a photonic crystal? Fine. Robotic dragonflies for surveillance solutions? Okay. But the appendages of a humpback whale as inspiration for wind turbine design? Bit of a creative leap, surely?

Those knobby flippers were long considered one of the oddities of the sea, found on no other earthly creature.

But after years of study, starting with a whale that washed up on a New Jersey beach, Frank Fish thinks he knows their secret. The bumps cause water to flow over the flippers more smoothly, giving the giant mammal the ability to swim tight circles around its prey.

What works in the ocean seems to work in air. Already a flipperlike prototype is generating energy on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, with twin, bumpy-edged blades knifing through the air. And this summer, an industrial fan company plans to roll out its own whale-inspired model – moving the same amount of air with half the usual number of blades and thus a smaller, energy-saving motor.

So, there you have it – appropriately-named university professor finds application for cetacean hydrodynamics.


Dynamic Skyscraper in Dubai

The announcement of the world’s first dynamic building has echoes of the futuristic and modernist designers of the Archigram movement:

archigram domesThe 420-metre (1,378-foot) building’s apartments would spin a full 360 degrees, at voice command, around a central column by means of 79 giant power-generating wind turbines located between each floor.

It is interesting to see certain elements, including the modularity, individualism, and dynamism of concepts like the Archigram Plug-in-City re-emerge in the 21st century.

The Dynamic Tower itself is impressive in it’s grandeur and the scale of it’s ambition. The fact that the architect claims the building “would be energy self-sufficient as the turbines would produce enough electricity to power the entire building and even feed extra power back into the grid” adds to the wonder.

[story via BBC News][image by Claire L. Evans]

The little house that could

The house's heating water tank

Built for just £210,000, Michael and Dorothy Rea’s house on Britain’s northernmost inhabited island is amongst the most efficient in the world. Boosted by the strong winds surrounding the island of Unst, the house has its heating and power, plus an electric car and substantial greenhouse, entirely powered by renewable sources.

The house reminds me a little of the building in Susan Palwick’s ‘Shelter’ with its smart uses of technology. The house takes heat from the air around it and stores it in a water ‘battery’ to heat the home. The greenhouse uses hydroponics and LED lighting to simulate growing seasons, allowing hothouse plants like lemons and peppers to thrive. Is this a sign of how we will live in the future?

[story via the Guardian, Image from the Rea’s website]

Wind power balloons upward

magenn wind generator Well, not figuratively, anyway.  Everyone knows* that wind is stronger the higher up you go, so why not get higher to make use of those high speeds?  Well, constructing a 600-ft. base isn’t all that easy to do for one.  Enter the Magenn Air Rotos System (MARS), a giant sausage-shaped balloon fitted with rotors to generate power.  It sounds like a wild idea, but other companies are developing similar technology as well.

A small test version is currently underway, with hopes to build small-scale models for industrial use first, then building up to megawatt generators.

(via greentechmedia) (image from Magenn website)