Converting Low Temp Waste Heat To Electricity

Can civilization keep itself from drowning in useless, waste heat?


(Yale Engineers Turn Wasted Heat Into Power)

It is estimated that recoverable waste heat in the U.S. alone could power tens of millions of homes. Although existing technologies can reuse high-temperature heat or convert it to electricity, it is difficult to efficiently extract energy from low-temperature heat waste due to the small temperature difference between the plant’s heat discharge and the surrounding environment. Additionally, conventional systems are designed to target a specific temperature difference, so they’re less effective when there are fluctuations in the output of waste heat.

Researchers at Yale’s Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering have developed a new technology that overcomes these challenges. The key is a “nanobubble membrane” that traps tiny air bubbles within its pores when immersed in water. Heating one side of the membrane causes water to evaporate, travel across the air gap, and condense on the opposite side of the membrane. This temperature-driven flow of water across the membrane is then directed to a turbine to generate electricity.

To prove the concept, the team built a small-scale system and demonstrated that the nanobubble membranes could produce pressurized flows of water and generate power even with heat fluctuations and temperature differences as small as 20 degrees Celsius — making it feasible for use with the wasted heat from industrial sources. The findings were published online June 27 in the journal Nature Energy.

The researchers used nanostructured membranes with a surface chemistry that helps trap the air bubbles, keeping bubbles contained within pores even when large pressures are generated. These membranes, approximately as thick as two sheets of paper, were made from highly hydrophobic (water-repelling) polymer nanofibers.

I first read about this question in the early 1970's. In his 1970 novel Ringworld, Larry Niven had to help an entire species, the Puppeteers, with their waste heat problem. They are sentient herd animals whose vast cities and works cover their entire planet.

"I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat. Total conversion of energy had rid us of all waste products of civilisation, save that one. We had no choice but to move our world outward from its primary."

"Was that not dangerous?"

"Very... we found that a sun was a liability rather than an asset. We moved our world to a tenth of a light year's distance, keeping the primary only as an anchor...
(Read more about the Puppeteer Kemplerer Rosette)

Via IndustryTap.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/18/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.' - HG Winters, 1939.

Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...' - Isaac Asimov, 1965.

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...' - EB White, 1950.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.

Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.'

Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.'

China Develops Taste Testing Robots
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.'

Tesla Robotaxis Will Automatically Recharge Themselves
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'

New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.'

Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD
'Gramp Stevens sat in a lawn chair, watching the mower at work...'

Elon Musk Foretells Tesla Sans Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'

Adversarial Patches Trick Computer Vision
'The surveillance cameras can all see it, but then they forget they’ve seen it.'

Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now
'The system has already fired five people...'

BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'

Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'

'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'

A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'

'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.