Tech Tuesday 10/24/17 – I Actually Like Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli Edition

Oscar Gordon

A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget.

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23 Responses

  1. fillyjonk says:

    BIO3: I have terrible teeth and I keep hoping something like this is developed to the point where (a) it actually works safely and (b) is inexpensive enough that a mere mortal can afford to have it done (or better: my dental insurance would cover it).

    Next up is needed a way to regrow whole teeth for when people crack them.Report

  2. Michael Cain says:

    ENR3: On scale, Xcel ran a trial using sodium-sulfur batteries in the MWh range. The problem with prior sodium-based chemistries is that the electrolyte was molten sodium — nasty stuff, corrosive, burns on contact with water, and has to operate at temperatures around 300 °C. Other folks have developed sodium-ion batteries with safer electrolytes, but have had problems with dendrite formation over the long haul. Stanford’s electrolyte appears to be part of the “special sauce” in this battery, and is described in the article as “a propylene carbonate (PC) electrolyte”.Report

    • Oscar Gordon says:

      I figured the application would be grid storage, but the article seemed to imply it would be competitive with much smaller scale applications, like residential rooftop solar. If the batteries are big, I don’t know how well it would work for residential solar, since most people are not keen to give up square footage for battery packs.Report

      • Michael Cain says:

        There’s grid storage, and then there’s grid storage. The energy density is cited as around 0.4 kWh per kg. I would cheerfully give up a few square feet of garage and/or unfinished basement for a moderate-cost 50 kWh storage unit because it can serve multiple purposes, some in combination with the local utility. 300 pounds spread over a few square feet is easily within the load-bearing capacity of my garage or basement floor.

        1) Private generation buffer. When my local generating output — eg, solar PV panels on the roof — exceeds my demand, dump the excess into batteries instead of the grid.

        2) Grid-based storage. Except that the storage isn’t done by the generators, it’s done by the distribution utility. FERC and the courts opened this up when they agreed to let utilities bid demand reduction as an alternative to expensive peaking power during high-demand periods. The traditional approach to reduction is to take high-load customers offline. As an alternative, draw on a million batteries across a metro area.

        3) Time-of-day load shifting. I can charge my batteries up when power is cheap, discharge when it’s expensive. One of the cool things here is that, if the batteries are “trusted” by the utility, no separate smart meter is needed; the batteries report time of day charging and discharging. In addition to me doing it, given access to my storage, the local utility can do it too.

        4) Emergency power. With minimal sorts of load shedding — ie, don’t run the dryer or conventional oven — 50 kWh should meet the needs of a typical suburban household for a couple of days.

        Utilities have to take on a variety of new responsibilities in such a scenario. But they’re going to take on some of those in a world with high percentages of renewables anyway.Report

        • Oscar Gordon says:

          If it was something I could locate outside, like next to my heat pump, then we are in business. But I have no basement and the garage is small, and full of tools, and my wife continues to insist on parking her Highlander in there, despite my objections…Report

  3. Bert The Turtle says:

    ENR1 – The Gulf of Mexico has a huge “Dead Zone” of algae growth due to fertilizer runoff from farms. I’ve occasionally speculated about using something like floating farms on the Mississippi River to try and soak up/mitigate this in the past. I wonder if kelp farming in the Gulf of Mexico might be a better solution, though I don’t know if the specific chemical makeup of the runoff would fertilize or kill the kelp.Report

    • Oscar Gordon says:

      Fertilizer is fertilizer, the only question is what concentrations are helpful versus harmful. If the runoff flow is well mapped, you could try to site the kelp farms where the concentrations are helpful.

      Of course, then some lawyer will convince a farming co-op to sue the kelp farm for a share of the profits since they are taking advantage of fertilizer that those farmers paid for.Report

  4. Marchmaine says:

    WWW1 – “Suffice to say, at the time, we recommended the Scorpion mainly for ‘aspiring amputees‘”

    Well at least they are recommending them.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    You were in SoCal and didn’t think to look me up? I’m hurt. Hurt, shocked, put off, insulted, and offended.

    Or, maybe just a touch disappointed but understanding that you no doubt had your hands totally full with the kids. Maybe. But it amuses me to posture thus.

    When I went to California Adventure, the ride was “Soaring Over California” and all of the landscapes were filmed over various astonishingly photogenic California locales: Yosemite, Big Sur, Redwoods National Park, San Francisco, Death Valley, etc. Now, I understand it’s film from around the world. Which is still no doubt very cool but less California.

    The Hollywood Hotel ride is also pretty good. It does require you to really get in to the decorations and setting and have a touch of patience to absorb the atmosphere. But if you can do that, it’s a big ol’ thrill.Report

    • Oscar Gordon says:

      We did the whole “sequester at the park” thing. As a retired vet, I get really sweet deals on park tickets and Disney hotel discounts. So we landed at John Wayne, took the shuttle to the Grand Californian, and spent 3 days going on rides, etc. Then took the shuttle back to John Wayne. No rental car, so no going off on side excursions (although there was one night, when Bug was waaaay over-tired, that a side excursion to a bar was probably in order).

      Hollywood Hotel is now a Guardians of The Galaxy ride, but it’s still an elevator drop, and quite enjoyable. And yes, Soaring is now global, but you end at Disneyland. It’s still amazingly good at tricking your brain into thinking you are flying. Bug loved it, rode it twice and probably would have rode it more. He is still a big fan of the monorail, especially when he can ride up front. And I never appreciated what a decent coaster Screaming is, especially with the synced up music.

      And Disney is still aces for service. Everyone was wonderful. Disney guests, on the other hand… I am really learning to hate people who use those mobility scooters.

      Anyway, I am usually in CA a few times a year, there will be other opportunities.Report

  6. North says:

    Hmm so Jeff Flake has flaked. On the one hand one can’t help but applaud a man standing on principle, on the other (cynical) hand the word is he was going to get primaried out in AZ but on the other-other hand he could have chosen to spend his remaining year and change sucking up to Trump and casting his principles to the wind and that plus incumbency could probably have saved him. So, on balance, good on Jeff Flake.Report

    • Oscar Gordon says:

      I see it as something of a big F-U to the GOP for bending to Trump.Report

    • Saul Degraw says:


      Everything about the Trump administration and things that happen around it, remind me a line from Auden’s September 1, 1939:

      “Uncertain and afraid
      As the clever hopes expire
      Of a low dishonest decade”

      Especially the low and dishonest decade part. It seems brave, there were some stirring moments but Flake was very unpopular in his home state and it was highly possible that he was going to lose his primary bid. This makes me question whether the move was brave or just a way to maintain dignity and not face the specter of defeat.Report