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December 19, 2012


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Cute. Much more efficient energy storage than those "generator charges a capacitor" deals, which usually run for a disappointingly short while after cranking.

i like that it looks like something out of Portal.

It's a very cool idea.

5kg mass times 9.8 m/s/s times 2m of height (assumed) divided by 30 seconds (time it takes to run the weight through) is just over 3W. If you can get good efficiency, you can run a couple of watts of LED off of that, which generates quite a lot of visible light.

Mass is assumed. Not sure what they're really using; I am just assuming direct conversion of some amount of potential energy to electrical energy.

And no batteries!

seems like some clever engineer could devise a version of this which could fit inside a well - and instead of 2m, maybe you could get 50m worth of potential. and a variation you could hang from something tall, like a tree or a nearby building, could be useful.

Or really, really massive weights running through multiple sets of pulleys.

Oh. Friction loss. Maybe just one weight, then. A weight that's you, sitting in a hammock chair suspended from a rope that runs through the clock. A chair with a reading light attached. You climb a ladder, sit in the chair, and read for a while. Then get out of the chair, raise it back up, climb the ladder again, etc.

The tree thing was good, though.

Yep, Portal was my first thought - its a nifty look. Could of used it during the recent storm difficulties.

Harnessing gravity - kudos to the engineers.

It's not so much harnessing gravity as it is spreading work you did over a long enough time to be interesting. It's like winding up a spring-driven generator, only without the spring.

It's like winding up a spring-driven generator

in a recent sci-fi book (title of which i can't recall), the SE Asian economy of the future was based on energy stored in super-strong, super-efficient springs because winding a spring adds little CO2 to the atmosphere (compared to burning something). so there is an entire industry devoted to winding springs. people ride stationary bikes to wind springs, people are employed (as are draft animals, even elephants) to walk in circles to wind springs. and sometimes these super-wound springs break and kill all kinds of people. twannnng

interesting idea. hated the rest of the book, though.

another test

Cleek: would that be Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl ?

I recommend installing this one by the ceiling in an elevated manner with a retractable extended stem for descent access. It can be done with a ladder safety mechanism in engineering principle.

would that be Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl ?


The premise is maybe a bit deficient. You can store energy in a spring, but it takes energy to put it there, and in the case of winding springs, that energy comes from human metabolism.

Which has CO2 as a byproduct.

Not sure whether humans are any more efficient at converting hydrocarbons to mechanical energy than are e.g. coal-burning boilers, turbines, etc.

But obviously I have not read the story, so it may very well be that someone has had the bright idea of storing all of that energy we pay health clubs to help us expend in the winding of springs. Which energy we were going to burn anyway.

Why am I picturing Homer Simpson taking a conveyor belt from his new office to the company gym so he can walk on a treadmill?

Not sure whether humans are any more efficient at converting hydrocarbons to mechanical energy than are e.g. coal-burning boilers, turbines, etc.

probably not in this world, but in the SE Asia of the future, it's OK. such is the magic of science fiction.

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