Solar Heating System with Water Battery

Solar Heating System with Water Battery

Dutch inventor Kees van der Geer sends us this paper and wants to know what we think of it. Comments are open.

“Heating with a sun collector costs nothing and contaminates nothing. In this article I propose a solar heating system consisting of a large solar collector, suitable for the heating of a house and a heat store, capable to bridge a week of cloudy weather. Both are made from simple materials.”

“Maybe a practical solution to make a heat store is to buy a inflatable swimming pool of 17m3 and construct an insulating box around it. ”

Large area solar heating system (pdf), Kees van der Geer, 2011. (Artículo en Español).

Human Power Empirically Explored

Knijpkat “Harvesting energy from the users’ muscular power to convert this into electricity is a relatively unknown way to power consumer products. It nevertheless offers surprising opportunities for product designers; human-powered products function independently from regular power infrastructure, are convenient and can be environmentally and economically beneficial.”

“This work provides insight into the knowledge required to design human-powered energy systems in consumer products from a scientific perspective. It shows the developments of human-powered products from the first introduction of the BayGen Freeplay radio in 1995 till current products and provides an overview and analysis of 211 human-powered products currently on the market.”

“Although human power is generally perceived as beneficial for the environment, this thesis shows that achieving environmental benefit is only feasible when the environmental impact of additional materials in the energy conversion system is well balanced with the energy demands of the products functionality.”

Human Power Empirically Explored” (PDF, 12MB), Arjen Jansen, 2011.

Pedal Powered Machines

pedal powered machines

  1. Pedal powered farms and factories: the forgotten future of the stationary bicycle
  2. Bike powered electricity generators are not sustainable
  3. The short history of early pedal powered machines

Low-tech Nuclear Waste Storage

Spent nuclear fuel ponds “Even though they contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet, U.S. spent nuclear fuel pools are mostly contained in ordinary industrial structures designed to merely protect them against the elements. Some are made from materials commonly used to house big-box stores and car dealerships.”

Report: “Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the US – reducing the deadly risks of storage“.

Via Yale Environment 360.


Greens and Numbers

greens and numbers“My feeling is that the green movement has torpedoed itself with numbers. Its single-minded obsession with climate change, and its insistence on seeing this as an engineering challenge which must be overcome with technological solutions guided by the neutral gaze of Science, has forced it into a ghetto from which it may never escape. Most greens in the mainstream now spend their time arguing about whether they prefer windfarms to wave machines or nuclear power to carbon sequestration.”

“They offer up remarkably confident predictions of what will happen if we do or don’t do this or that, all based on mind-numbing numbers cherry-picked from this or that ’study’ as if the world were a giant spreadsheet which only needs to be balanced correctly. What is missing here is stories, and an understanding of the importance of stories in getting to the bottom of what is really going on. Because at root, this whole squabble between worldviews is not about numbers at all – it is about narratives.”

“The fight between the pro-nukers and the anti-nukers, for example, is actually quite archetypal. Though both sides pretend to be informed by ’science’ and ‘facts’ both are actually informed primarily by prejudice. Whether you like nuclear power or not is a reflection of the kind of worldview you have: whether you are a confident embracer of the Western model of progress or whether it frightens or concerns you; whether you trust science or tend not to; whether you are cautious or reckless; whether you are ‘progressive’ or ‘conservative.’ On issues ranging from GM crops to capitalism, these are the underlying stories that actually inform the green debate. That they are then supported by a clutch of cherry-picked facts – easy to come by, after all, in the age of Wikipedia – is a footnote to what’s really going on.”

Read more: The quants and the poets. Illustration.

Innovation & Tradition: The Complete Works of Hassan Fathy Online

Hassan fathy 8 “Since antiquity, man has reacted to his environment, using his faculties to develop techniques and technologies, whether to bake bread or make brick, in such internal psychological balance with nature that humanity historically lived attuned to the environment. Man’s creations were natural when built of the materials offered by the landscape. Learning to manipulate clay, stone, marble, and wood, man penetrated their properties, and his techniques gave expression to his aspirations toward the divine. In architecture, environmental harmony was known to the Chinese, the Indians, the Greeks, and others. It produced the temples of Karnak, the great mosques of Islam, and the cathedral of Chartres in France.”

Hassan fathy 5 “With the advent of the industrial revolution, the inherited techniques and perfected knowledge of creating, using handmade tools, were lost and are now forgotten. Energy-intensive mechanized tools have diminished man’s personal, cellular contribution to the fabrication of objects, the building of structures, and the growing of food. The lesser the challenge for man to imprint his genius, the less artistic is the product. The resulting economic and political disturbances are visible today. Production of beauty, once the prerogative of millions, is replaced by industrialization, even of bread, under the control of a minority of owners. The negative consequences of the industrial revolution have disturbed the natural organization of the divine concept for humanity.”

Hassan fathy 2 “Sixty years of experience have shown me that industrialization and mechanization of the building trade have caused vast changes in building methods with varying applications in different parts of the world. Constant upheaval results when industrially developed societies weaken the craft-developed cultures through increased communications. As they interact, mutations create societal and ecological imbalance and economic inequities which are documented to be increasing in type and number. Profoundly affected is the mass of the population, which is pressured to consume industrially produced goods. The result is cultural, psychological, moral, and material havoc.”

Hassan fathy 7 “Yet it is this population that has an intimate knowledge of how to live in harmony with the local environment. Thousands of years of accumulated expertise has led to the development of economic building methods using locally available materials, climatization using energy derived from the local natural environment, and an arrangement of living and working spaces in consonance with their social requirements. This has been accomplished within the context of an architecture that has reached a very high degree of artistic expression.”

Hassan fathy 1 Quoted from: “Architecture and environment” by Hassan Fathy, a noted Egyptian architect who pioneered appropriate technology for building in Egypt, especially by working to re-establish the use of mud brick (or adobe) and traditional as opposed to western building designs and lay-outs.

Fathy demonstrated how elements from vernacular Arab urban architecture, such as the malkaf (wind catch), shukshaykha (lantern dome) and mashrabiya (wooden lattice screen), could be combined with the mud-brick construction traditionally practiced in Nubia in Upper Egypt to form a distinctive, environmentally and socially conscious building style that linked the use of appropriate technologies with co-operative construction techniques and the guiding thread of tradition (source).

All his wonderfully illustrated books can be found online, free to download (in English, French & Arabic). Via TECTONICAblog (Thank you, Zeltia).