At the risk of stating the obvious, the issue of insulation is not tied
to any particular type of heating system - green or otherwise.
If you were asking for details on the building pictured (probably not,
or you'd have used a '?') I can say that I saw 6" of fiberglass in the
walls, assume at least 6" of fiberglass on the ceiling, and think
there's some insulation under the slab. The 10'x10' overhead door seals
well all the way around but I don't know if it's insulated. I also don't
know about the entry door, and I think the sliding windows are
single-glazed (but I'm not sure, perhaps you can tell from the photo).
If you're really interested, I have permission to provide the owners
contact info, but I won't put it here.
You probably won't find many insulation details on web pages for
traditional/conventional heating systems either.
[ A Google web search on "fiberglass insulation" produced 293,000 hits
with the quotes, and 508,000 without. ]
I had a professional do an energy assessment on my house. The
governments in charge felt it was a clever way to induce some spending
and offering incentives to those who want to make their homes and
businesses more efficient. That includes furnaces and AC units,
windows, siding, roofs etc.
They widened the scope of tax incentives even to basic remodeling such
as kitchens and bathrooms. (Yay for Rob)
They put a huge blower in my front door and rigged up some manometers
and a computer. Lots of insulation all over the place in all the right
spots.... but also all kinds of air leakage in spots I would have
never guessed, and I have been around buildings a long time in many
stages of con- and deconstruction.
A cube of poly-urethane foam took care of most of that.
IOW, you can insulate your building to the n-th degree, but if your
energy bleeds to the outside, 12 FEET of insulation won't help you
22 electrical outlets on outside walls added up to a 6" hole by this
tech's estimation. His smoke wand showed how just how much air that
actually pulled. Mind you, he had a huge sucker creating a strong
vacuum in my house, so 'real world' was amplified by quite a bit.
Still, you see this little foam pads for electrical outlets, and I
always thought they were a bit over the top, but I stand corrected.
So, if you create any kind of suction, say by launching SketchUp, make
sure you check for air-leaks.
Morris, if it can get to the same level of install-ability as your heating
systems, I'd consider that "commercially viable". I'd even take a lower
level of maturity if it provided the cooling capability with the use of
Not having done the research, has anybody done a study on the number of
square feet of collection space required (at expected insolation levels) as
a function of expected vs. required stirling efficiency?
What political disencentives exist?
Sounds like R&D outlays where I work. ;-)
Best of luck in developing the pump concept -- your heart is certainly in
the right place. Slightly off topic, did you ever have any nibbles in
trying to get your heating systems to Ukraine (or was it Belarus)?
Been following that web site. Looks like some reasonable
proof-of-principle development has been going on, but more work to the
proof-of-concept, real design is going to be a while in coming.
If it becomes profitable to do so, then development will speed up. The
nice thing about the prototypes you've shown so far is that they use
reasonably-priced materials. If that can carry forward, the economic
viability is more likely.
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
The efficiency /limit/ for a Stirling cycle engine is strictly dependent
on temperatures and is given by the formula
E = 1 - (Tc / Th)
where Tc is the cold head temperature in Kelvins and
Th is the hot head temperature in Kelvins
Remember that temperature is NOT energy - it's the energy /density/ of
some quantity of mass.
As with the solar heating panel, the trick is to nudge the design as
close to that limit without pushing cost through the roof. Also like the
solar heating panel, it's a matter of identifying /all/ the variables
and (re)learning enough of the physics involved to make the best
possible trade-off decisions. Time, heat transfer, and flow rates are
important considerations in the engine and I'm pretty sure that I don't
know all I need to (yet).
Under ideal conditions, the rough rule of thumb is to figure that the
sun delivers roughly 1 kW of power per m^2. The amount of power (and so
the area of collector) is dependent on the amount of heat to be moved.
If the collector is a passive flat panel, the temperature will be
dependent on the height of the panel - and if the collector is a
parabolic trough, the temperature will be dependent on the width of the
trough and the width of the "bright line" to which the radiation is
focused. The temperature is significant because it defines the upper
limit on how efficiently the power will be converted.
Put on your favorite congress-critter's hat and consider:
Both my existing solar heating panels and the not-yet existing AC
represent one-time expenditures. Once installed, there will be no fuel
or electricity costs and no maintenance costs.
There will be a significant reduction in fuel and electricity revenue
for those who've (probably) been among your largest campaign
contributors. Ask yourself how this is likely to affect your campaign
funding and your chances in the next election - will your situation be
improved or worsened?
With out a need for maintenance, many jobs for those who earn a living
doing annual furnace tuneups, checking and recharging AC units, and
repairing breakdowns will be largely eliminated. How is this going to
affect voting in the next election? Is this likely to improve or worsen
the support of the trade unions who represent obsoleted workers?
And finally, answer the question of whether you want most to be
re-elected or whether you care more about what your constituents pay for
heating and air conditioning.
A considerable amount of web site activity - but only one nibble.
This last week, I received a video from the group in Pakistan showing
their pump working. It wasn't working very well - I think because of a
much too strong spring in the check valves they used - but it /is/
pumping water. I've been trying to track down some valves with weaker
springs, but am having the usual difficulty with getting a US producer
to even talk to me. I'm beginning to think I could make my own
flapper-type check valves faster and cheaper than I could buy 'em. <sigh>
Design is considerably ahead of build. The necessary rule is that only
one new thing at a time can be changed, else it becomes all too easy to
misinterpret test results. With the pump, the changes are still large
enough to require a complete (or nearly complete) rebuild, which slows
things down a lot.
I'm really looking forward to the "fine tuning" stage. :)
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