Special interestI've been thinking about a challenge. Designing modern devices without an electric battery. Capacitors are fine just no batteries. How would you think this would progress?
      – Baslisks, 2009-02-02 at 21:12:51   (59 comments)

On 2009-02-02 at 21:13:25, Baslisks wrote...
Cars wouldn't be all that difficult to build or work but things like laptops and the such would become near impossible.
On 2009-02-02 at 21:22:30, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Presumably you mean without any electricity at all. That's certainly a step backwards for cars - drive by wire is the future, as it frees up huge amounts of space and is perfect for electric cars, which we need to get away from oil. What other 'modern devices' are there? Gadgets like electric shavers wouldn't be very practical if they were steam-powered, and most simple things already had non-electrical analogues prior to the use of electricity, right?
On 2009-02-02 at 22:25:39, Baslisks wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: if you can produce electricity and use it without a battery then by means use it. Just no batteries Take our knowledge of radio waves and see it applied to cellphones without batteries. Think it would be possible? Would digital storage still work or would we have to go back to ticker tape? Goal of this thought experiment is to see what we can get away with without batteries.
On 2009-02-02 at 22:58:28, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Right, but then it depends what you call a battery. You could store some hydrogen and use it to produce electricity, or use steam, but either way you've still got a battery - just not the sort of 'chemical' one we're used to. Substituting one form of energy storage for another doesn't achieve anything. IBM were working on a MEMS concept much like punched cards, but using an array of nanoscale probes to physically create/erase pits - digital storage without electrical or magnetic charges. You'd still need electricity at some point in most processes - it's fundamental even in nature.
On 2009-02-02 at 23:20:17, Baslisks wrote...
Wouldn't that be traditionally called a fuel cell though?
On 2009-02-03 at 00:22:25, BorgClown wrote...
Would a clockwork dynamo count as a battery? I'm sure a cell phone could be perfectly powered by it, even if it grows significantly in size.
On 2009-02-03 at 00:23:40, BorgClown wrote...
It would be weird to listen to all the tic-tocs instead of seeing all the LEDs in my bedroom when going to sleep.
On 2009-02-03 at 02:41:59, Baslisks wrote...
@BorgClown: clock work dynamo is not a battery. Would require creativity.
On 2009-02-03 at 09:33:49, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@Baslisks: You can get energy from hydrogen without using a fuel cell, e.g. simply burning it, but that liberates energy too quickly for a small gadget. Fuel cells are a generic concept that apply to other fuels, e.g. alcohol.
On 2009-02-03 at 19:49:15, Thelevellers wrote...
I love the idea of a clock work dynamo... Not convinced of the functionality, but it's a very cool concept :)
On 2009-02-03 at 21:04:19, Baslisks wrote...
Wouldn't a fuel cell be more efficient and less likely to blow up?
On 2009-02-04 at 08:50:15, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Yes, they would. Fuel cells have always seemed pretty boring to me, but now I'm starting to understand that they're more than just a replacement for batteries - they're more like small generators that produce power without the need to recharge (just needing refuelling). Companies have already talked about topping up a mobile telephone with ethanol-based fuel cell.
On 2009-02-04 at 19:43:29, Baslisks wrote...
go drinking and get a free charge!
On 2009-02-05 at 05:40:54, BorgClown wrote...
I was looking around for clockwork dynamo applications, and found several. I meant a device where you wind it up and aand gives a couple of volts for a few hours, although on-demand crank radios, lamps and TVs already exist. There's a few more ideas here http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Clockwork-_20the_20new_20power_20source
On 2009-02-05 at 05:42:00, BorgClown wrote...
@Baslisks: Why does your watch smell like piss? No wait, it smells like warm beer...
On 2009-02-05 at 19:06:26, Thelevellers wrote...
The problem with wind up stuff is that it is a bit of a slow way to generate power... I got my hippy parents that are living off grid a wind up radio, and for the FM version it seems really good (30 seconds wind roughly equals 30 min), but FM uses very little power... The digital function needs about 30 minutes of winding to get about the same amount of playback! Shows you how much extra power this digital conversion (here in the UK) is gonna take! In fairness I think the batteries are a little screwed in that radio, but it's still pretty poor showing... I think my cunning plan for a power netrual or even power generating gym is best - use gears to increase the difficulty of 'weights' and have all the weight lifting apparatus generate power... Needs some work, but once I'm sorted for a job I intend to put pen to paper...
On 2009-02-06 at 00:11:02, Baslisks wrote...
Could have a socket that constantly turns that you could use as a general power source.
On 2009-02-06 at 04:09:13, BorgClown wrote...
Digital conversion means computing power. No wonder it costs so much in energy. Today there's even cheap wristwatches that recharge with the natural movement of your arm. I'm all for energy whoring, the grade of a civilization is measured by the power it consumes. Let's hope it to be clean power.
On 2009-02-06 at 12:43:30, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Even if you ignore the environmental cost of dirty energy, there's still the cost. I look forward to a time when you don't have to worry about the amount of energy you use at all, either due to cost or pollution. It's a similar freedom my Internet telephone gives me - it has a regular area code, yet no standing charge (and no cost to call someone else on the same system). Being able to call other countries for 2p a minute is an amazing feeling - you just don't care at all about the time spent talking.
On 2009-02-06 at 16:48:42, Baslisks wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: skype phone by chance?
On 2009-02-06 at 20:31:48, Lee J Haywood wrote...
No, Tesco.
On 2009-02-07 at 19:16:35, Thelevellers wrote...
Wow. I never thought I'd see those to compared.... :)
On 2009-02-07 at 19:16:43, Thelevellers wrote...
*two compared
On 2009-02-07 at 20:28:37, Baslisks wrote...
What is a Tesco?
On 2009-02-08 at 11:48:54, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Tesco is the UK's biggest supermarket chain. Their Internet telephone is obviously run by another company, I forget which, and the IPA device I bought isn't being sold any more (it lets me plug an ordinary telephone handset into it) but USB ones are. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesco http://www.tescointernetphone.com
On 2009-02-08 at 20:08:07, Baslisks wrote...
Oh I've seen those. Yeah, sadly connected to my cell phone because I live in 2 or 3 different places at a time and its easier to work with. Meh maybe when I get settled down.
On 2009-02-19 at 12:57:15, _Rory wrote...
quite expensive, as there are capacitors that hold there charge for weeks, but they are very expensive. kinetic charging may help.
On 2009-02-19 at 15:19:27, Lee J Haywood wrote...
There are those super capacitors that charge in seconds and hold a tremendous amount of energy, e.g. using a forest of nanotubes to hold charge. Oh, and here's another amusing idea... http://craziestgadgets.com/2009/02/18/solar-powered-rechargeable-batteries/
On 2009-02-20 at 02:42:39, BorgClown wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: Is Rory's profile link unavailable because he hasn't made an account yet?
On 2009-02-20 at 07:14:17, Baslisks wrote...
@Rory: fly wheels?
On 2009-02-20 at 09:42:59, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@BorgClown: Yes, that's right. There's no user number in his user box either, although I've just put the name in it. @Baslisks: Fixed the bug / _ in your comment.
On 2009-02-20 at 18:53:22, Baslisks wrote...
Cool, but flywheels would actually be a pretty cool idea. I am currently assigned with redesigning things to better suit the world and I have a group of people trying to reinvent regenerative braking... They haven't figured that out yet.
On 2009-02-20 at 19:44:10, Thelevellers wrote...
As in generating power from braking forces? Sounds like an interesting project :)
On 2009-02-20 at 19:48:44, Baslisks wrote...
already been done, its in priuses and the such. I think their twist is that its a mechanical thing. I see problems with replacing parts. Wear would be monstrous.
On 2009-02-20 at 19:57:52, Thelevellers wrote...
I know it's been done, I was just checking it's what you were talking about... I saw a fairly impressive electric car on Top Gear, obscenely expensive, as it used awesome batteries, which cost a fortune, but was uber fast, and could go a fair distance using braking forces to help keep the batteries going...
On 2009-02-20 at 19:59:14, Baslisks wrote...
Good thing to try needs work on efficiency.
On 2009-02-20 at 19:59:37, Baslisks wrote...
gramar not good thing meh
On 2009-02-21 at 11:32:57, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I remember when flywheels were going to be the next big thing. You could put them in trams and buses and spin them back up at each stop. You could have mini-flywheels in your batteries to power your gadgets. I guess there are some practical problems with getting people to use super high-speed rotational energy storage.
On 2009-02-22 at 05:09:48, BorgClown wrote...
Flywheels are cool, never thought much about them. Since the start of this topic I intended to mention Seiko's Kinetic brand of wristwatches, but the long-running ones do use a rechargeable battery. The ones who last a couple of days use only a capacitor though: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_quartz
On 2009-02-22 at 05:15:38, BorgClown wrote...
I was reading about magnetic-bearing vacuum-sealed high-speed flywheels for massive amounts of energy storing. Whoa, wouldn't want to be around when a big one shatters.
On 2009-02-22 at 06:21:04, Baslisks wrote...
dangerous as hell but in america they are a part of our electricity grid. Kind of cool.
On 2009-02-22 at 12:55:57, Lee J Haywood wrote...
This article has lots of interesting bits of flywheel information. They're both a cool idea and around 90% efficient, with long lifetimes and the ability to deliver huge bursts of energy when needed. "When the tensile strength of a flywheel is exceeded the flywheel will shatter, releasing all of its stored energy at once; this is commonly referred to as "flywheel explosion" since wheel fragments can reach kinetic energy comparable to that of a bullet. Consequently, traditional flywheel systems require strong containment vessels as a safety precaution, which increases the total mass of the device. Fortunately, composite materials tend to disintegrate quickly once broken, and so instead of large chunks of high-velocity shrapnel one simply gets a containment vessel filled with red-hot sand." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flywheel_energy_storage It goes on to explain the handling issues in a vehicle, due to gyroscopic effects.
On 2009-02-22 at 18:20:20, Baslisks wrote...
THE TERRORISTS COULD USE THEM AS BOMBS! OHHH NO!
On 2009-02-22 at 19:18:44, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I want one. Just for the cool factor.
On 2009-02-22 at 19:37:54, Baslisks wrote...
Wouldn't be hard to make just trying to make it a power generator would be difficult. Have it hooked up to a solar/wind farm and maybe some small indoor house generation. Would be fun.
On 2009-02-22 at 19:42:03, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I wonder why they don't use flywheels for the big solar thermal projects - they always seem to use molten salt, etc. which must be pretty inefficient? http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/bigsolar.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_energy#Heat_storage
On 2009-02-22 at 20:06:57, Baslisks wrote...
It goes to heat exchanger and goes to a turbine to power.
On 2009-02-22 at 20:26:51, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I think you may talking about the immediate use of the energy, but they use the salt for overnight storage in order to provide power from surplus when the sun isn't shining. Flywheels seem like an idea place to put it - they're able to respond to fluctuations in demand almost instantly and don't have much loss during the conversion to/from angular momentum. It's also very easy to check how much energy is stored in them by counting the spins.
On 2009-02-22 at 20:37:18, Baslisks wrote...
Perhaps they are using molten salt to better use their original turbines?
On 2009-02-22 at 20:40:49, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I guess it comes down to how you convert the heat energy into rotational energy. They're storing the heat so that they can later use it to run the turbines, but I'd just run the turbines up front and have them spin up the flywheels. I do have zero engineering skills, so presumably there are good reasons why you cannot do it this way.
On 2009-02-22 at 23:43:47, Baslisks wrote...
They are probably just sitting the heat in the salt and running water through it. I don't know the c of salt and how the heat exchangers are set up to tell you if this is a good idea or not. I assume many smart people looked at this problem before me though. Flywheels would and probably should be considered a battery and if you are generating and contributing straight to the grid then why worry about power capacity? A home system would maintain a better use of flywheel. Though I do see hydrogen as being a popular solution now.
On 2009-02-23 at 00:01:24, Lee J Haywood wrote...
No, that's not right. They do send it straight to the grid during the day time but generate too much energy - sending it all direct to the grid wouldn't work - and have no sunlight at all at night when serving demand still means money coming in. I forget if it's salt they use or not for energy storage, but they definitely rely heavily on a battery of some sort.
On 2009-02-23 at 00:06:00, Baslisks wrote...
http://www.sandia.gov/Renewable_Energy/solarthermal/NSTTF/salt.htm the salt is a battery but it does allow the water to go to steam.
On 2009-02-23 at 09:19:23, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Now that I think about it, the problem with flywheels is simply the total amount of energy they can hold. There's an upper limit to how fast they can spin, and they're mostly suitable for buffering energy in regenerative braking, etc. Salt is likely to be able to hold huge quantities of heat energy without failing.
On 2009-02-25 at 04:46:03, BorgClown wrote...
This Molten Salt stuff was interesting, never heard of it before.
On 2009-03-27 at 23:23:03, Lee J Haywood wrote...
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20127015.800-f1-cars-get-a-power-boost-but-at-what-risk.html
On 2009-03-28 at 03:34:54, Baslisks wrote...
ohhh, cool
On 2009-03-28 at 13:13:06, Thelevellers wrote...
Nice, finally real life is catching up with the speed boost button in games! :-) Actually, technically nitro was there first wasnt it? Ok, so tech has made another way of doing it, close enough ;-)
On 2009-03-29 at 06:33:10, Baslisks wrote...
I don't know how their systems work but they seem kind of hacky to me. I guess... I don't know.