2 comments on “Open Mind: 3rd World Energy (Abraham)

  1. What about harnessing heat generating from compost. Does heat generate energy. I think the average temperature of a well-maintained compost pile is 150 degrees.

    Also algae is amazing. I used to pull it out of my Koi Pond and it would turn to a black solid mass. I looked into energy production from algae when I was attempting to write a grant to try to save my house.

    Good Luck, guys.

    Good luck, Brian.

    It’s cool your mom is broadcasting your work.


    • First off, thank you for your comment and your support; and yes, heat is a form of energy transfer. You make an excellent point, composting bins/piles/heaps regularly achieve core temperatures in excess of 130 deg F; while this may not be hot enough to boil water to use for steam power generation (water has a boiling point of 212 deg F at sea level), it is certainly warm enough to heat water that can be used for bathing, washing clothes, cleaning dishes, and many more purposes! One way to get around the issue posed by water’s boiling point would be to use a liquid with a much lower boiling temperature to produce gas that could then be used to produce power through a gas turbine; however, this could prove quite costly and complex.

      Interestingly enough, a man named Jean Pain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Pain) (1928-1981) developed a method to use his compost heap to both produce hot water and electricity! Jean realized that his compost heap could support bacteria that produced methane gas if the heap was held at a temperature of about 97 deg F. In order to do this, Jean ran water tubes through his compost heap; the temperature difference between the compost (hot) and the water (cold) resulted in heat being pulled from the compost, which cooled his compost to 97 deg F (allowing the bacteria to subsist and produce methane) while at the same time heating the water (to be used as hot water in his home). In effect, Jean was using his tubes and compost as a heat exchanger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_exchanger), much as the radiator in your car serves as a heat exchanger to use the flow of air over the tubes to cool the hot radiator fluid. The only difference is that Jean used his heat exchanger to heat his working fluid (cool water), whereas your radiator uses its heat exchanger to cool its working fluid (hot radiator fluid). This just goes to show that with right combination of motivation, determination, and a healthy supply of smarts, humans can do just about anything that they put their minds to!

      With regards to your second statement, you are absolutely right: algae is amazing! As a matter of fact, algae has been studied for some time now with respect to its relevance to power generation. Depending on the means of cultivation, lipid extraction, and ultimate conversion, the right kind of algae can be converted to anything from biodiesel fuel to methane to jet fuel!(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_fuel) The main caveat here is that the extraction and conversion processes can prove quite complex, costly, and are difficult to execute on a small scale. Other issues revolve around the facts that some of the fuels produced from extraction of fats from the algae can be unstable in some temperature ranges with respect to phase (solid, liquid, gas), and the fact that so much of this great nation’s infrastructure is based on petroleum, that it often proves very difficult for new or relatively experimental fuel sources to gain any kind of foothold. Having said this, alternative fuel sources will only grow as we move to the future.

      Ultimately, it is quite fascinating how truly endless the things that we can learn from the world around us and as future mechanical engineers, the members of Team UV find great interest from subjects such as these and so we would like to thank you for calling our attention to these possibilities.

      Thank you very much for your readership and support from all of Team UV, and I will be sure to thank my mom for the referral when I see her this weekend.



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