May 2008

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« Gravity Battery | Main | Youth in Asia »


Michal Malkowski

"I have the smartest readers in the world(...)" ...among some, that don't know how to roll to 4th panel...


[Hardcore leftist? If anything, he's Libertarian, which is more right than left. But for the most part, he doesn't play the whole political game, and is rather neutral in that regard.]

Yes, that certainly explains all the posts he has made supporting Obama. Excellent point.


Hmmm... "smartest readers in the world" = "DMD"

It just sounds nicer... and makes us/them dance differently...


Of COURSE this won't be "efficient" in terms of energy used to store, vs. energy returned. BUT if the energy used is FREE, and there is enough, then efficiency is not the issue.

If you have sufficient energy during the daylight hours to store enough energy to get you thru the night, and the energy is free and plentiful (wind, sun), then the efficiency concerns matter much less or not at all, compared to use of a limited consumable energy resource (fossil fuels).

And if you add in some consideration of by-products, pollution, etc., this could be attractive.

So the question is not really how efficient this is, but instead what is required to store enough energy to get thru the night. If it requires enough water to fill a lake, and 10 acres of solar or wind energy collectors, then it is not a practical home solution. But if a roof covered in solar cells can pump water into some sizable attic water tanks to do this, more interesting, independent of efficiency.


The theory of Stupid People:


Well I don't know anything about water but when people mention windmills I have a good question...There was a program on TV that said in the US, we have enough wind energy in the plains to power the whole country. but wouldnt' creating that many windmills cause dragon on the earth resulting in higher tides and possibly messing up how fast our days are? As for free energy, I have always wondered where the electricty from lightening goes. Static electricity goes into the ground but then what??? To power the dirt?


I'm no engineer, but you gotta fix the Sunday strips. The new model doesn't permit me to read more than the first 3 panels. I had to go elsewhere to view the complete strip.


"thats ok, as long as they do good work"????

first dilbert cartoon without a punchline, is it?

D. Mented

Sterling engines. Nevada, Arizona, etc.
Wind turbines. Montana, Wyoming, etc.
Water turbines. Already in use in rivers, could be put to use on coasts - leaving only short slack-tide periods where batteries must be used.
Energy is feasible - it's water that's a limited resource...That and arable land...and nice red uniforms - no- strike that...
D. Mented


While an interesting mental exercise alot of this is impractical regardlesss of how much water you have to store. It will take more energy to get the water into position than it is worth.

Although... I suppose technically you could have some sort of pump that would operate during the day ia solar power and pump the water that fell the previous night back up to the top. Then as the sun sets a solenoid could trip and open teh floodgates (as it were) to provde hydropower at night. Alternatily you could always save power ona treadmill and carry the water yourself but the numbers I am seeing people spout off here so far indicates that that would be ALOT of water.


Dinorwig power station works on this basis.

Adrian monk

Congratulations to William SMith, you have just invented a perpetual motion machine.


Check this email. The solution is on the back of the envelope I sent it in. Hope the postmark didn't cover any of the important numbers.

For some reason this topic made me have to pee.


I think Robert X. Cringely has the smartest blog readers in the world, but yours are close.

Scott's a leftist? Hah!

Flywheels made of composite materials on magnetic bearings are the safest and most efficient way to mechanically store excess energy, not water or air reservoirs. The structural requirements to build even a modestly powerful liquid tank system would completely alter the way houses are built and add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost. Gaseous storage tanks increase the danger of explosive failures. A flywheel could be bolted to any of the existing structures that are already used in normal house construction and take up about the same volume as a heat pump and air handler. Because the flywheel is composite, failures could be contained within a modestly armored enclosure.

Dwight Schrute

[As far as I can tell, your readers are either hardcore leftists like yourself, and people who like to mock hardcore leftists.]

Hardcore leftist? If anything, he's Libertarian, which is more right than left. But for the most part, he doesn't play the whole political game, and is rather neutral in that regard.

Jason Dumler

According to what I've heard, the electric company charges less money for power during off hours - like say midnight through 8 am or something like that. I haven't confirmed if this is true. However, if it is, you could buy power during that time to charge your battery (gravity battery, efficient capacity battery, whatever), and then bleed that power off during the day when power is more expensive, saving money and lightening the load on the power infrastructure.

Armando Esteban

Thank you on the smart part!

jerry w.

I've found that running a wire underground to a nearby unoccupied house,

and connecting it to their lines produces basically free energy. Of course,

this only starts when the house gets sold and new owners move in

and turn on the power.....

By the way, this energy costs you the same day or night, and there's no

water storage mess, maintenance, or noisy pumps for you to deal with.


Hmm. What about a large triangular-shaped container, flatish and longish, suspended in mid air from a windmill frame and attached to a sail directly above it or something else to encourage a rocking motion? It would have to be small enough to fit in the average back yard. The container would be filled with a foot or so of water that would move from side to side inside the container with every wind shift and run over lots of mini-generators as they have in some of the newer hydroelectric dams.

LA Clay

If you lived in a bubble under the ocean, you would have all of the water and pressure needed to complete this. You also have the lifestyle for this to work.


No need to have a battery or energy storage system for each individual home or business. These storage devises are intrusive, expensive, high-maintenance, depreciative, and can be dangerous.

Most homes are perfectly well served with a working in-place utility power grid. The ideal setup for the average individual home and business owner is a grid-tie solar electric system (or hybrid solar/wind). The money spent on a power storage system is better invested in more solar panels (and/or wind generator) that increase productivity during the high-peak demand of daytime.

What is missing though is a mass produced, affordable medium sized car (hopefully American built) with a hybrid power system with batteries that are re-chargeable from any 120 volt AC socket. The homeowner is then almost completely free of the gas pump. If the car hybrid runs on natural gas with a home gas compressor they are completely free of Middle East oil.

Sure all these systems are expensive, but the price of fossil fuel in terms of dollars and an untenable world wide geopolitical situation are dramatically going up. Therefore, the payback for the investment gets shorter and shorter. China and India alone will gobble up any new fossil fuel production.

Of course, all this is predicated on a massive mandated conservation and recycling agenda. Detroit and the American public seem never to learn the lesson of the 70s when Toyota and other Asian car companies kicked their collective butts with smaller more efficient cars.

The biggest waste in America are all the SUVs going on sale now that the prices for fuel rise dramatically and demand for them is dropping thru the floor. Big home, big cars, big buildings, big lawns, big everything is stupid and only will lead to the haves and the have nots at each other’s throats.

Even people who can afford solar systems are not putting them in. Wonder when the “light bulb” will go on over their heads (hopefully a compact florescent one).


BTW, I just wanted to let you know that you're Daily aren't being sent out as regularly as they used to since the changeover. I missed April 29th + 30th (I think), and the last 3 days worth of strips came in all at once. Just in case you had missed that bug.

- Nimh

Bob Paddock

The Amish have been using RAM or "Thromp" pumps for hundreds of years
to pump flowing water to higher heights. The kinetic energy of the water
itself pumps the water to higher storage tanks.
Bellocq, Toribio, Compression Wave Pump and Thromp Pumps

To Mark Thorson's comment on Human Power, there are practical limits
to that:


I'm pretty confident that a fridge size hydrogen reactor (fuel cell etc.) has better chance of working than huge pools or compressed air.



It would take more energy to run a pump to fill the reservoir than one would get back in hydroelectric power. First you need to take into account moving the mass of water from a lower elevation to a higher elevation. Say if the water is provided directly from your house. I don't think that your backyard would be forming a natural reservoir. If it was you would have bigger problems than the need to generate free electricity. The depth of the reservoir will directly determine its potential to generate electricity because water pressure increases proportianly with water height. The problem is that you need to fill the tank and that is where you would loose more energy than you gain.

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