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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.


The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Home Heating with Windpower -- Public Domain 'Invention'

Note: Originally Posted on Another Forum

Given the cost of heating homes in many colder climates, quite a few homeowners could use a cheap, renewable source of warmth to get them through the winter.

So, take a small wind turbine like the ones once used (and occasionally still used) in the Midwest to pump water from wells. Use a belt to transfer momentum from the turbine down into your house, possibly using a pipe of some kind as a shaft to shelter said belt and the route it takes into your house from the elements. If you need this shaft to rotate in order to provide freedom of movement to the mini-windmill above, put another pipe inside the first, secured with spinning rotor rings at each end.

At the bottom of this shaft you'll have two things. One, a copper disc driven by the belt that will spin in tandem with your wind turbine. Two, a 'U'-shaped bar magnet. You set the bar magnet up so that it can be locked in place when needed, and unlocked and removed (or simply flipped back if you have it on some kind of a hinge) when it is unneeded, the apparatus is overheating or your automatic thermostat is regulating the temperature.

The first electromagnetic generator, the Faraday disc, used exactly this setup to produce electrical current.

The downside, owing to the fact that the current tended to immediately redistribute to the area of the disc away from the magnet, was that it generated very little usable power, and the movement of electricity in the disc created a lot of heat due to resistance.

In your case, you would not be tapping the current, but rather employing the excess heat generated by all of that current impelled within the disc to supplement your normal heating methods. Obviously, you would have to be very careful not to burn or shock anyone or set anything on fire with this setup. You may want to put some kind of a fire-resistant cage, mesh or grill around it to keep debris and curious onlookers back. An electrically insulated barrier may also prove wise, depending on the charge generated (possibly some shatterproof glass would be useful, but it all depends on how much electricity your system can generate at top speed). Of course, magnets will lose their magnetic properties when heated past specific temperatures, but this point is pretty high for most magnetic materials, and will reverse again once they cool.

This technique may not heat your entire house, but depending on wind strength and consistency, may provide a very substantial degree of warmth for whatever room you have it installed in. Without knowing anything about the windspeeds you will be experiencing, I can make no estimates regarding how effective this system would be in your particular house. If you are curious, however, I would suggest getting a device that can measure windspeed above your residence (you may be able to get one on loan from your local university). If local wind conditions seem promising, you might then set up your heater temporarily outside, just to see how much heat it can produce before cutting a hole in your roof to install it. Remember, of course, that the heat will disperse much faster in the open while the wind is blowing.

But if you then find your wind-thermal system to be worthwhile, you may choose to have it installed professionally. In that case, good luck.

And, of course, if the above all seems too complicated, use a waterwheel or water turbine to provide the motive power... assuming you're living next to a substantial source of water power, or could divert one for a micro-hydro project.


To clarify, since there seems to be some confusion about this invention...

Ultimately what you have here is a U-shaped bar magnet, a rotating disc of copper, and something to turn that disc. Your source of motive power can be wind, micro-hydro or a couple of teenagers working out on a stationary bike (easily rigged up from an old bicycle as needed).

But the point of the system is that someone with very limited resources could find a way to make that disc turn and then only requires a few parts that are relatively easily bought or salvaged (despite recent increases in the price of copper). Why is this important?

Because with fossil fuel prices skyrocketing in the face of peak oil and other economic issues, there are a lot of people who will not be able to afford heating oil this year, and who can not burn enough wood to stay warm in their houses. I have put this 'invention' into public domain because it could make a great difference in some people's lives -- perhaps even save a few. If you do not see it as being the most elegant technical solution possible, in many respects, you are correct. It is only elegant insofar as it is a cheap means for the relatively poor but capable to survive a difficult winter without heating oil.

A further note:
Yes, there are other ways to transfer power into your house besides a belt -- that is just a common method a lot of people have experience with. I am not even sure if the classic water-pump windmill uses a belt.

But having said that, a vertical axial wind turbine could easily spin a rod that descends into your home through a much narrower hole. So long as you waterproof said hole and avoid frictional overheating, that should work out just as well for you... assuming you can rig up a simple vertical axial turbine.

But again, to repeat, all of this is easily within the capacity of a capable handyman with a few parts and scraps. My apologies to any who felt this necessarily replaced their much more advanced generators, and their 12,000-mile supply lines back to China.

I am hereby placing the above technique into public domain for anyone who would like to use it.

I make no claims regarding the above concept, only to tell you it is here and can now be used by anyone. Thank you for listening.

Ralph Cerchione

Renewing the Earth: Public Domain Inventions for a Sustainable Future Solar desalination, solar steel, etc.


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