Possible… Effective…. Elegant… Efficient… Economical
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May 21, 2008 at 9:49 pm #496
There are a whole lot of neat “science experiment” type effects one might want to incorporate into a Seastead. The problem is sorting out ideas that are truly innovative applications of known scientific principle as opposed to just gee-whiz kind of stuff. Keep in mind that the further from tried-and-true production tehcnologies one goes, the less likely (not impossible, but far less likely) it is to actually, you know, work out.
- So you’ve got the possible. Known scientific principles behind it, been demonstrated in a lab to be true, but no commercial applications exist.
- Then you’ve got things that work fine (effective), but have some measure of waste. Or require a brute force approach. Sure you can incinerate your waste, but you have to add enenrgy to the equation to make it work, most of which is unrecoverable, or takes another (expensive?) system to do so.
- Elegance: combining some systems to take outputs into inputs, or take advantage of something that is otherwise free. Sure, you get free sunlight on your PV panels every day, but you just don’t have enough of them to power the arc-welder and the radar at the same time.
- And there are some very efficient technologies that just don’t scale very well. Efficient does not mean effective. Spacecraft exploring the solar system have engines with very low thrust (after the initial launch boost) and they get great efficiencies over time. But they just don’t have the power to manouver very well. A seastead could have the same problem in a bunch of different ways. Trying to use temperature differences for large scale electrical applications come to mind- we’re back to having lights or radar, but not both at the same time, and how much money and space did we devote to this system?
Then for all of the above, you’ve gotta ask yourself Is it economical?
- how much it would cost
- how much return value you get for it
- over what timeline do you get return on investment to break even?
- How long to generate positive revenue (or will it ever)?
- What else do I sacrifice to get this function? (i.e. in terms of space or power constraints, as well as straight monetary cost.)
- How often does it require maintenance or replacement?
So with all that in mind, I highly doubt that OTEC or Stirling engines are likely to prove much use. I don’t think that inceration of waste is likely to be done on any large scale, much less with elegant outputs to other systems’ inputs. Aside from mere volume constraints, there another type of space constraint, and that is placement. The radar mast just can’t go anywhere except at the top. You can’t put a windmill inside the hull. Living quarters will almost certainly be inside the spar in that type of design because the platform area will be most useful to the daily grind of doing actual work rather than inactive periods of time sleeping. Some systems need to be close together, others are best seperated for safety or redundancy.May 24, 2008 at 10:24 pm #2366
We are constantly struggling with keeping everything economical. Once we have a few of these things deployed, we’ll be able to do some on site experimentation to see what really works and what just works on paper.
For example, we suspect that there is some kind of wave energy generator that will turn out to be workable. But which one? There are so many to choose from.June 8, 2008 at 7:10 am #3122
So I take it flywheels are out of the question? I don’t know of any cost estimates, but they have tons of advantages:
- high efficiency (airtight chamber)
- storre lots of energy (useful for renewable energy storage which is intermittent)
- Heavy storage chamber (we can use the flywheel as a ballast which kills 2 birds with one stone)
- Malfunction will be self-contained in the storage chamber (center of gravity of seastead not affected)
- Just as cash money has high liquidity, the energy of a flywheel has high liquidity (think capacitors)
- By spinning one of the flywheels slightly slower than the other one spinning in the opposite direction, you can turn your entire seastead quickly and quietly (I’m sure this would have plenty of uses such as solar-panels tracking sunlight, agriculture tracking sunlight, aiming cannons or weapons, scaring off sharks, etc.)
- Maintenance (I have no idea if and how much maintenance this stuff needs)
- Cost (no idea)
- Will cause the seastead to spin due to angular momentum (can be solved with 2 flywheels spinning in opposite directions at the exact same speed)
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