Day 58: Potential Energy

(Author’s note: I’ve got some catching up to do. I hit two days which were so crazy-full that there was no time to write. Here goes.)

Right before the MechaniCrawl, my muse had just gotten back from a cross-country flight, so we’re ready for a day of rest and quiet relaxation. She’s finishing another knitting project. This one’s for her sister, but it looks really good on her as well.

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So it was a quiet day at home. Remember the rule? Any time there’s a quiet day without many pictures, I unwrap another Secret Plan.

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Secret Plan 118: Pressure Reducing Micro-Generator

Most houses have devices called pressure-reducing valves. They’re important for many reasons, and building codes require them on the interface from the water main. Additional pressure reduction is sometimes used to save water in the garden or shower.

…so the water that comes to your house is higher pressure than you need. Call it 100 psi (pounds per square inch). And let’s say you only need it to be 30 psi in your sink, shower, and garden hose.

What if we could use this pressure difference to generate electricity? First step is to find out how much energy we could get from it.

This pressure difference is effectively the same as two water tanks at different heights. If these two tanks physically existed, you can imagine that by water moving from one tank the other, you might generate some power.


This isn’t the device, just an illustration of where the energy would come from.

In this example, a typical family using 120 gallons of water in a day would get 60 watt-hours for free each day, or about enough to run a laptop computer for two or three hours.

That’s not huge, but free energy is pretty popular these days.

Random Assertion: Micro-generation ideas usually aren’t cost effective at first, but they also don’t cost much.

Steganographic data: 1862/1.4

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Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 8:38 am  Comments (1)  
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Day 23: A Glimpse of the Future

Everyone’s got work to do in the morning, so we put some coffee and tea on and the house gets quiet for a few hours.

Then we head to Epic Roasthouse on the Embarcadero for a special brunch. They put one of those old seltzer bottles on the table, and it’s really hard not to start a seltzer fight.

When we get home, everyone’s busy again. Dad is working on his lecture, and my muse is finishing a knitting project.

(Knitting, what?) Don’t laugh, those 12-inch #5 aluminum needles will pin you to the wall from across the room, and you’ll never even see it coming. Trust me on this one.

She’s been doing it her whole life, and is super-fast now. Today she’s just finished up something for herself, and shows it off:


Mom and Dad are heading out of town tonight, but first we all make our way to 4th Street to watch the Lakers/Celtics game with some hot wings and beer. Gotta have priorities.

Funny thing about the game was that the TV we were looking at was about 3 seconds ahead of the big one most of the pub was watching. We’d cheer (Whoa!!), then wait 1.. 2.. 3.. “WHOA!!” …and roll over laughing. For a while there, we were able to see 3 seconds into the future. It looks pretty good.

Random assertion: If you see someone knitting, it means she has serious math skills and a whole quiver of sharp objects. Be nice to her.

Steganographic data: 1880/1.8

Published in: on June 9, 2008 at 8:18 am  Comments (1)  
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