AAA Drafting Blog

A SolidWorks designer talks about stuff related to CAD and mechanical design

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wind energy stored in unused high pressure pipe.

Wind energy is supposed to be free and something every country would like to take advantage of. But even if you install windmills there is still the problem of how to store the energy. At the moment, batteries are just not practical for storing the large amounts of energy for later use. A veteran of the canadian pipeline business may have come up with a novel alternative.

Dave McConnell, of Lancaster Energy Systems in Alberta, Canada proposes using windmills to drive a nitrogen compression system. Forcing inert nitrogen gas into unused large diameter gas pipelines, he makes what amounts to a gigantic compressed air tank. Releasing the compressed gas makes it possible to generate power anywhere along the pipeline.

The idea has been extensively researched by top scientists and engineers and may well be implemented in the coming years. It looks like a unique way to take advantage of two things Canada has in abundance. Wind and high pressure gas pipelines.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The ultimate piece of jewelry bling for engineers

A unique piece of jewelry made by a new company called Kinekt has got to appeal to all the mechanical engineers in the world. It's a ring that features two annular ring gears and a series of small pinions that rotate when you play with the the two annular gears.

It's made out of 316 stainless so it will never rust and is available in several ring sizes, although not every finger size is available yet. That will likely change as they get more interest in the product. No gold version yet but I guess they want to see how the ring does in the less expensive material first.

Theres a video on their website that shows the ring in "operation". I can just imagine how many engineers are going to be caught fiddling with these in the future. Not only that, I can imagine all the 3D modelers out there might want to come out with something even fancier. Just dont get your finger caught in the gears !

Monday, February 01, 2010

Pavement slabs make their own power

A story in the Toronto Star really caught my attention this morning. Pavegen, a UK manufacturer of pavement slabs has come up with a pavement slab that generates electrical power just from people walking back and forth over it.

The power is generated through a piezoelectric effect much the way the needle and cartridge worked in your old vinyl turntable player. The tiny grooves in an LP record shake the needle and generate a tiny current in the cartridge. In a Pavegen slab, the vibrations come from the mass of walking humans and the current generated is fairly significant.

The company is planning to install 16,000 of these slabs in high traffic areas in London for the 2012 summer olympics. The most logical place for them is at popular bus stops where 5 of these slabs could supply as much "free" power as the bus shelter presently requires from the grid.

Some of the slabs will have LED lights built right into the slabs, rather than on light poles as is done nowadays. The light at ground level allows visibility to reduce trip hazards in addition to providing ambient light.

I can just see these slabs having applications all over the place, and if they work for foot power they surely must work better with auto traffic driving over them. It's a marvellous way to harness energy we create during our routine daily activities.