This week in the Sudan, a small team assembled and fired up their first
sunshine powered engine. As an engine, it's not really all that
impressive - but it operates for free, and more impressive versions
(that also operate for free) _will_ follow.
They're already being pressured by local folks to go faster to build
bigger, better versions. :)
There's a photo at the bottom of the page at the link in my sig.
Exactly so. The engine operates on a temperature differential, and there
was some difficulty getting enough light focused on the hot head - so
the cold head was wrapped with fabric and wetted to make it cooler.
Thanks. I talked a while back about widening the arable zone on either
side of the Nile, and this looks as if it might be the first tentative
step in that direction...
...but it's a challenge - a search for 4"/100mm PVC pipe in Khartoum
(with a population of 2+ million) came up empty-handed. Seems that water
is brought from the river and sold door-to-door by water carriers, which
makes more than 50mm pretty much useless.
Who knows - perhaps they'll end up with a municipal water system, too.
Not intended as a dart but it always strikes me when start messing w/
long established ways...if so, what happens to the formerly gainfully
self-employed carriers? Is there sufficient alternative economic
development in place in time...sorta' like displacing the poppy where
it's the dominant (as in only) cash crop--what can they replace it with
Well beside needing agricultural workers, they'll need plumbers, and
folks to build the pumps and maintain the systems into which they're
...I'll stick my neck out and predict increased employment with better
wages in healthier communities.
And I think, realistically, that's just the camel's nose. :)
I think the prospects are good. There will be new issues raised and new
problems to solve, but I think the issues /will/ be resolved, and that
the new problems will be less severe than the current ones - and that
solutions /will/ be found. It's what humans do.
This particular technology lends itself to sustainability. What's been
fun for me is knowing that there's only a /very/ small step between
producing a good pump and being able to use the exact same engine to
produce electrical power on a small (household) scale...
Perhaps, for some definition of "impressive" - but a 4"/100mm bore
engine turns out to be a _lot_ more impressive than two 2"/50mm bore
engines, and an 8"/200mm engine would knock the socks off anyone
impressed by either of the smaller engines.
For household, or even small village, scale operation there's a
practical limit imposed by the size of the solar concentrator needed to
provide the input energy, and there are materials issues that come into
play when all that energy is fed to a single engine.
But having said that, I confess that I've been unable to resist
exploring the design of an engine using a 55 gal barrel as its hot head. :)
On 1/27/2010 10:53 AM, email@example.com wrote:
Only on a small scale in a point-of-use context - and it's more like
limping than running. Still, it's a lot better than nothing for billions
of people not served by centralized energy distribution - and the pace
of improvement has been picking up as more people have joined the effort.
This is "easy" fusion since we don't have to build the reactor. :)
On behalf of the folks out there with their sleeves rolled up, "Thank
you". I'll pass the congratulations along.
This one is probably a lot less efficient than most other operating
fluidynes, since this is a first effort, built with what components
could be found in a city-wide scavenger hunt. :)
If you're asking about design features, it's really just another U-tube
fluidyne, built to familiarize the builders (who'd never actually seen
one of these things before) with the task, and to have something to
In spite of non-stellar performance, it seems to have grabbed the
interest of at least one Nile Valley farmer, who immediately began
pushing for accelerated development of bigger and better pumps similar
to the configuration shown at
but it's worth noting that pump may already have been obsoleted (before
ever even being built and tested) by this version
which bears a startling resemblance to the "Lamina Thermoacoustic
Engine" shown in the video at
if you imagine standing the engine up and using a fluid piston. :)
This one (with a 50mm bore) won't ever produce much power. The entire
project is aimed at producing a design that will be practical for DIY
build in underdeveloped areas by local people with a maximum use of
materials they're likely to be able to obtain. Until we've weighed all
the trade-offs, we'll be in discovery/learning mode.
The power out depends on, of course, the power in and on the efficiency
we're able to achieve within cost and material constraints.
The development teams are independent, cooperative and consist of unpaid
volunteers. All have agreed that everything learned is to be shared
freely. The end product is a design, and the goal is to have NGOs
distribute the plan at their own cost - with one attached string: plan
recipients agree to teach and help others to build and use the pump.
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