June 15, 2010 at 3:47 pm #1283
A little while ago, I experienced how fun it is to take apart a disposable camera. I shoved a knife in it and it gave me an electric shock, worse, in my opinion, than the one I recieved from a 250V light socket the previous day (don’t ask). I did a little research and found out that they use a capacitor (not quite sure how this works) to up the power from a small battery or something? Anyway, if an AA battery can pack that much of a punch, surely we only need a small (relatively) amount of power to power a seastead. I appreciate the need to have a constant flow of electricity, but doesn’t this mean we only need a small-ish power source, one like you could get from harnessing underwater currents, or waves, or the wind? So a huge amount of power is not needed, making a lot of the insufficient sources sufficient. I have very little understanding of this area of science, so i apologise if I am wrong, or if this is already used in power production, or something like that. I don’t know.June 15, 2010 at 8:31 pm #10470
Simply put, there is no free lunch here. The capacitor needs to be charged up by the battery before it can shock you (or power the flash or whatever). This takes some time, and probably consumes a fair amount of the total energy in the battery.
So, you are trading a low power for a long duration for a high power for a very short burst.
But in a way this is sort of what you do if you harvest energy from wind, solar or whatever and store it in an energy storage system (batteries, thermal energy storage, flywheels, whatever), to use when needed.June 16, 2010 at 12:24 am #10472
If we are looking for as much sustainability as we can get we need electricity,if we are going to be filtering water with reverse osmosis for potable water and agricultural water or to use highest yield hydroponic and aeroponic systems, routine usage (TV, PC, refrigration, cooking) aside from navigation we’ll need electricity for lotsa other things, we can use gas for cooking we can use pure chemical filtering for potable water but this lowers our sustainability, we can use common commercial or home type hydroponic units without electricity but every square meter counts since we are assuming we are on a seastead(and hi-yield hydro units are very sensitive, you’ll need 7/24 regular electricity). But still… battery technologies really advanced alot in recent years, so i guess it is theoretically possible to buy batteries instead of prdocuing power ourselves. Though it is unlikely since it still won’t be feasible in near future. It is quite efficient to store electriciy nowadays especially in 3 day periods, problem is to produce the energy in a feasible manner, let’s hope some material science freak discovers a way to produce carbon nanotubes in a feasible manner. Photovoltaic cells using silicon is 4 times less efficient than 3-band C-nanotubes and it is life span is alot shorter too…June 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm #10475
As I say, I really don’t know much about this, just an idea that arose after I tried to find out why a battery-less disposable camera gave me an electric shock.
June 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm #10480
why a battery-less disposable camera gave me an electric shock.
Because it isn’t battery-less. There is a small battery in there, usually a AA or smaller. The problem is that you cannot discharge the battery fast enough to give a good flash. So the battery slowly charges the capacitor, and then the capacitor releases all that energy in a quick blast that gives you a good flash.
I doubt very much a seastead will need capacitors for energy storage, because most of the items that use electricity need a slow, long-duration drizzle instead of a really fast, high-intensity blast. Also, ultracapacitors have a very high level of self-discharge, so they are constantly losing their charge over time even if nothing is connected to them. So they make poor long-term energy storage systems.
On the other hand, capacitors are very safe since they can be charged and discharged very quickly, and there is no danger of overcharging (unlike batteries, which catch fire and explode!). They also have a very long life…they can be charged and discharged many many more times than a battery.June 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm #10482
Ok, so the capacitor is effectively a battery that stores extra power taken from the proper battery? That would explain it then; even though the battery was out, it still had a hell of a lot of power.
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