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Bill Bianchi

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since Mar 03, 2013
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Recent posts by Bill Bianchi

Late to this party, but I'll throw this out and let members tear the idea to shreds or ignore it.

Here's an "impossible" idea for using a high-heat source (rocket stove or parabolic reflector) to power a fragile Peltier or thermoelectric generator module (TEG), which would normally be destroyed by the intense heat.

Use the parabolic reflector or rocket stove to heat water or oil ONLY to the Peltier or TEG's maximum working temperature. Use the hot liquid as the heat source to operate the little generator. If the maximum rated working temperature of the module is below the boiling point of water, use water. If over water's boiling point, use mineral oil.

Use a thermometer to monitor the liquid's temperature as the stove or solar cooker heats it. When it reaches the maximum working temperature of your specific module, remove the liquid from stove or parabolic cooker.

For the generator itself, sandwich the module between two square metal, liquid reservoirs. Pour cool water into the cold-side reservoir. Pour heated oil or water into the hot-side reservoir. The module should generate electricity from the difference in temperature between the two reservoirs. (If using it during winter months, use the outside temperature to further cool the water for the cold side reservoir. This will create a larger difference in temperature between the hot side and cold side of the TEG, which should help generate more electricity)

Because the hot side reservoir liquid is heated ONLY to the maximum working temperature of the module, there should be no danger of damaging the module with excessive heat. Because that liquid was heated by a heat source too extreme for direct heating of the module, you effectively have a means of safely using that high-heat source to operate a Peltier or TEG module, no matter how low the maximum working temperature rating of the module may be.

Sounds good, right? Not so fast.

Let me help tear this idea apart so no one actually tries this.

1. A generator like this would cost more than solar panels. Just buy solar panels and forget innovating or experimenting or looking for other ways to generate sustainable, clean energy. If it were possible, energy companies would already be doing it.

2. Unlike solar panels or wind turbines, this generator would require the home user to actively heat the liquid. Just stick to what is already easy and available. If something more green and sustainable is discovered, energy companies will gladly sell it to you and go out of business---for the good of mankind.

3. While a generator like this could function off solar heat and/or a rocket stove, making it an on-demand generator that is not necessarily dependent on weather conditions, the idea is just too different from what we're used to. New is bad and scary. Best not to mess with it.

4. Focus only on the downsides of TEG technology and ignore any so-called benefits. Yes, a person with a rocket stove burning bio-briquettes made from waste material or using a parabolic cooker could heat mineral oil and use that to generate electricity at home. Yes, these modules could be used tens of thousands of cycles with only a 3% loss of generating ability over time, assuming they're not damaged with excessive heat, possibly a person's entire life time. Yes, with no moving parts, a generator like this would operate as silently as a solar panel. Yes, a generator like this could operate with no harmful emissions, depending on the heat source used to heat the liquid. Yes, this technology can be clean and green and even reduce the waste stream going into landfills. Yes, anyone with the skills to heat liquid and read a thermometer could operate a generator like this.
But, for all that, it's not photovoltaics or wind turbines, now is it? No, best to forget about this technology, at least until elite, qualified individuals who have the credentials step in and either make this work or prove it to be impossible for practical applications in the real world.

I've been at this long enough to know I just wasted my time posting this. Nothing will ever come of it, nothing will change. I'm the poster boy for insanity, looking to do my part to help find ideas to change energy production to something more sustainable and less damaging to our environment, all the while knowing anything different than what we're currently doing will be rejected no matter what. Over and over, hoping that some day things will change for the better. Pure insanity. What I've learned is that humanity will go down in flames. It is just our nature.

Idiot out.
9 years ago

Basically, it's a pendulum on the end of a lever. The claims that this device will multiply input power are extraordinary. Too good to be true? Anyone have any experience with it?

Levers are well understood, as are pendulums. Seems counterintuitive that putting the two together would do something more useful with less effort than working either alone.

Even if this device works as advertised, how could this guy hope to make money from his patent, considering how easy it would be for a potential buyer to just build their own from local scrap?

It also seems like the reaction at the end opposite the pendulum wouldn't be much because all the weight appears to be on the pendulum side. Or, am I wrong about that? Are both sides supposed to be of equal weight? How is this thing supposed to be set up in terms of balance?

There is a YouTube video of this device operating a water pump, should anyone want to see it in action before responding.

To me, it looks like putting less work into the pendulum would also lead to less work accomplished at the opposite end of the lever. Seems like more work could be done more quickly by just manually working the lever without the pendulum..

Anyway, there it is. Has anyone seen or worked with device before?
9 years ago

This is a bit more about Nitinol's uses and limitations. It has quite a few applications outside energy production. It seems that the longevity was improved by refining the manufacturing technique, but that doesn't mean it has yet become practical for power generation, or ever will.

It's an interesting and useful metal, at the least.
9 years ago
Max, I wondered about the functional life of this material. Do you have a link to information about the working lifespan of nitinol? Barring that, where did you get this information and what was the duration of the working lifespan, if you can remember.

I have heard that stressing this metal by loading it beyond it's recommended capacity will shorten the working life.

I'll go back and reread data from that first nitinol heat motor. I don't remember how many cycles it ran before the project shut down or if it was ever put under a load.

Looking at that toy, it seemed like a more efficient way to run it might be to set a sponge touching the wire at the hot point, then drip hot water onto the sponge from a thermos. Might run longer that way for a given batch, the premise being that the batch of water in the thermos wouldn't cool as fast as the water in an open bath and only the necessary amount (less) would be used only at the working point. Less heat loss of the batch to the environment per minute.
9 years ago

That one is for sale.

That is a video demonstrating it in action.

No, it's not a powerful enough motor to do much work, but what if it was upscaled and set up to run on solar heated water or oil? Or, what if a better configuration were found?

This is just a technology that might be worth keeping an eye on. Already, this memory metal is being used as a passive, automatic solar tracker that requires no external power, aside from sunlight, to turn/track solar panels and concentrators with the sun. Perhaps more uses will be identified and acted upon in the future.

I assume (I know, there is the ASSume word) that a second motor (another 2 pulley/nitinol loop) will double the HP. Or, would a thicker looped band provide usable HP? Seems like the water temp should be only slightly above the activation temp so it can cool and soften before it reaches the top pulley. How about a nitinol spring that could wound tight with little effort/expended energy when cool, then heated via an environmentally friendly heat source and released to unwind and do work?

I don't know what the future holds for this freaky metal. Maybe it will always be too expensive for practical energy applications, or maybe the cost will come down if people create a demand for it. Guess the first step is people becoming more aware of nitinol's potential to the point where this becomes common knowledge. If enough people know about it, perhaps more experiments will be done to explore the possibilities of using it for energy, and those experiments would be openly shared, leading to an eventual demand from consumers and a price drop.

Different grades activate at different temperatures, so that seems to open nitinol to many different possible applications in different environments. Perhaps a nitinol motor could use waste heat in a hybrid vehicle's engine to charge the battery for higher efficiency, or replace the alternator on regular vehicles.

The first nitinol motor was built and studied in the 1970's, nearly 40 years ago. It appeared to be more powerful than the toy I linked to above, judging from the old footage. Funding for the program stopped shortly after that motor was demonstrated. Seems past time to find out if it can contribute to producing clean energy.
9 years ago
Thanks for the video, Troy. It demonstrates why this is not free energy.
9 years ago