Scrawls from Preston...

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Thu 22 May 2008

Recycling energy (or making more use of it)

NPR had a story this morning about recycling energy. This is such a better area to be investing some research into over biofuels. It demonstrates a fundamental understanding of what constitutes waste heat and thermodynamics. One processes waste can be another's source. One of the examples they used, was if I recall 10 years old and it was simply placing a boiler over the ovens that make coal-coke (part of making steel). This requires very high temps, and the electricity generated by this was 100MW. To put that in perspective, most wind turbines out there are only 1-3 MW - so this one boiler was like a whole windfarm, and it was using energy that was considered waste product from another process. Now this isn't free energy, the original energy input into the coal-coke oven is HUGE, but at least you try to harness as much as possible. Taking this a step further, you could take the waste steam out from the boiler/turbine system and heat oil which, if there were an infrastructure for it in the surrounding community, could be used to heat every house in the area. The coal-coke oven is thousands of degrees, the boiler runs at hundreds of degrees, easy enough to get heated oil at 90-100 degrees to then heat housing with. This is the energy equivalent of an eskimo eating every part of the seal and letting nothing go to waste, instead we are killing the elephant for the tusk.