Choosing From The Two Final Designs

Creating a clean energy system is no easy task. When the goals are these.

Create a device to generate clean, renewable energy 24 hours a day, with a minimum of five days of storage capacity, an LCOE (Levelised Cost of Energy) below 20 dollars per megawatt hour, a life span of over 20 years, that can be mass produced in a high speed manner using  pre-1970’s technology.

Taking a list of a hundred of energy generating devices and removing everything that doesn’t match the criteria above gives the following two results.

In both cases solar thermal is the winner due to the cost of energy storage and price of energy collection.

Energy storage is dirt cheap, as a matter of fact it is dirt, a large pile of it can be used to store the suns energy. Insulation can be anything from wrapping a pile of dirt with hay bales to high tech insulation made by Owens Corning wrapped around large tank of water or sand.

The energy collectors are nothing more than solar hot water heating panels. These panels are extremely cheap to manufacture, install, maintain, and at over twenty five percent efficiency, offer better energy gathering capability than PV solar cells. What is not to love.

Both technologies, the Rankine cycle and the Stirling have the same storage and collection technology, which is cheap, simple, and effective.

The Rankine cycle is my favorite of both of these technologies. It is elegant, simple, efficient, the thermodynamics are well documented, and it can operate at low temperatures using pentane under a partial vacuum.

The LTD Stirling has been around for just a few years. Thanks to James Senft the thermodynamics are well understood, it can operate at low temperatures using air and antifreeze, and it can be manufactured out of pretty much any material. It can operate at lower temperature differentials than the Rankine cycle.

In the end it all comes down to high speed manufacture, ease of manufacture and cost. The Rankine cycle requires a modern machine shop to produce the parts used. Each part requires specialized equipment to produce. With the number of parts, multiple machine shops are needed. In the end the LTD Stirling wins out because it can all be built in a small shop with standard tools out of really crappy parts with loose tolerances. So my second choice becomes my first choice.

So the LTD Stirling takes the winners circle.

Next is the evolution of the design.

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A Timeline In Darkness, Annoyance And Thoughts On Energy

In Lakehurst NJ at around 7 PM on the 3rd of November my house began shaking. About 9 PM the hurricane named Sandy began hugging my house, causing the drywall ceiling to move up and down an inch or two, the windows to rattle, and the walls to sway. I opened the front door and the shaking and swaying just stopped, pressure differentials are a cool and scary thing. Fifteen minutes later everything went dark for a week. My week of darkness ended seven days and one hour later,  during that time thoughts about how to generate energy cheaply ran through my head …

I spent a day writing down every type of energy generation technology I could think of. The list was ~120 devices and techniques long. It included crazy concepts from the free energy world. After crossing out the repeats I had about 100 energy concepts to work with. After crossing ground based carbon devices off the list that number ended up 59. That number returned to over 60 when the realization struck that natural gas fired systems will play a role if the gas is renewable sources like generated methane and hydrogen. After crossing off things like Cold Fusion, cold fog, and Tesla based craziness, and all the odd ball crap, there were only about 25 remaining.

Taking those 25 and running them through this filter …

Create a device to generate clean, renewable energy 24 hours a day, with a minimum of five days of storage capacity, an LCOE (Levelised Cost of Energy) below 20 dollars per megawatt hour, a life span of over 20 years, that can be mass produced in a high speed manner using  pre-1970’s technology.

I ended up with twelve possible solutions, 8 of which I have been refining the designs of for the past several years. After discounting high temperature, high pressure, and radioactive solutions the final list was two devices.

More Later …


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The Annoyance Factor – Project Goals, Targets, and The Solution To the Worlds Energy Problems

I met this girl named Sandy, she gave me a kiss and everything went black for a week. No power, no heat, no refrigeration, and she left me very annoyed. She came into everyone’s  lives like a Japanese arashi and left as quickly as she came. She left a trail of death, destruction, and annoyance in her wake.

If people had heeded the warnings of 20 years ago, hurricane Sandy might have never occurred,  the damage and destruction to property could have been lessened or never have happened, lives could have been saved, and the disruption to peoples lives could have been prevented.


The nature of politics, federal, state, and local regulations, the monetary goals of corporations, government support of entrenched bureaucracies, and corporate lobbying has made most current clean energy solutions expensive and time consuming to install.

Lets side step all of these issues and hit corporations in their pocket books. Lets turn energy generation into the commodity and energy into something people and corporations just have. Where energy generation and energy storage become a fixed one time cost per kilowatt and per kilowatt hour. Where if your corporation doesn’t use this technology you are at a financial disadvantage and destined to fail.

Setting the following project goals accomplishes this.

Create a device to generate clean, renewable energy 24 hours a day, with a minimum of five days of storage capacity, an LCOE (Levelised Cost of Energy) below 20 dollars per megawatt hour, a life span of over 20 years, that can be mass produced in a high speed manner using  pre-1970’s technology.

A solution along these lines does several things.

  • Using older technology that is available in every nation, makes it possible for all nations, including developing nations, to become energy independent.
  • It makes the ground based extraction of carbon based fuels non cost competitive.  The cheapest form of energy is Natural gas advanced combined cycle, it is  currently $65 dollars per megawatt hour. $20 dollars per megawatt hour is below the financial limit for current carbon based technologies to be cost competitive. Charging below fuel and maintenance costs is a financially losing proposition for energy suppliers.
  • At below $20 dollars per megawatt hour the power grid costs more to maintain than can be made transporting the energy. Charging more to transport energy than the energy costs is not a financially viable option or a workable business plan.
  • It makes the production of methane and hydrogen as a fuel a viable option as the cost of these fuels would be well below that of current fossil fuels.
  • Low cost energy makes the extraction of fresh water from the sea an inexpensive workable solution. A combination of vacuum to reduce the boiling point of water, heat exchangers to reduce the energy requirements, and below 20 dollar per megawatt hour energy makes distillation cost competitive with current desalinization technologies.
  • It stabilizes the cost of goods and services. No more labor day gas price spikes. No more fuel surcharges on airline tickets. No more price spikes on food due to fluctuating fuel prices.
  • It substantially reduces the cost of all manufactured items. Depending on the item the energy cost are between 10 and 60 percent of the final price. This includes the energy associated with mining or recycling, transportation at each level of manufacture, factory energy usage at each level of manufacture, and the percentage of a persons salary dedicated to energy (gasoline, electricity, natural gas, heating oil, etc) that companies pay their employees. As an example of personal energy costs, my direct yearly energy expenditure is  ~$8,400, per month I pay $350 for gasoline, $200 for electricity, and $150 for LNG.
A week of helping people and living in  darkness has given me time to think on how to accomplish this goal.More later … 
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