April 20th, 2007

Ann Vole

Stop having old ideas

"People who seem to have had a new idea have often simply stopped having an old idea." - Edwin Land, inventor

When I have such obvious ways to solve problems and see nobody even considering these ideas as possibilities, I have to conclude that the problem is not people not getting these ideas but rather people rejecting these ideas because they are convinced some other solution is the answer. It is these old ideas that are clouding the way for the new better ideas. One example is storing heat... the first thing that comes to mind in most alternate energy people's minds is how they are going to hold the water.... hold everything! Did I say we are storing the heat in water? "But water stores heat better then everything else by a wide margin" they will say -old ideas.
Ann Vole

Ammonia Economy

With the talk of "the hydrogen economy" where fossil fuel use is replaced by the use of hydrogen, people have started to use the silly terms of "ethanol economy", "methanol economy", "lithium economy", "vegetable oil economy", "nitrogen economy", and "Ammonia economy" to suggest that these other fluids will be used to provide energy in our vehicles and possibly our other energy uses. Farmers use ammonia already for fertilizer so tanks and pipelines are already in use to transport ammonia which is even easier then natural gas to get to liquid form and far easier to store and pipe then hydrogen is. To make ammonia, natural gas is turned into hydrogen then it converted to ammonia using the nitrogen in the air. Because of this, ammonia is the first thing already adapted to the "hydrogen economy" (if cheap green electricity and efficient automatic hydrolysis systems were available to compete with natural gas as the source of the hydrogen). One thing that people do not know is that normal internal combustion engines can be modified to burn ammonia as a fuel and it produces air (nitrogen gas) and water as the byproducts with a slight bit of nitric oxides. These experimental engines produced far less nitric oxides then current gas and diesel engines produce and nitric oxides are easy to remove anyways. Since a large portion of our natural gas use is for ammonia production anyways, I see no reason for production of ammonia to be done using the intermittent wind power from wind farms. If small scale automatic ammonia production can be developed, I can see farmers getting into the act and setting up their own personal ammonia production for their own fertilizer use or for them to set up a cooperative to buy and sell the ammonia as produced and as needed by the farmers but with the wind mills on the farmers' land. Ammonia powered farm equipment is the next step as farming uses a lot of the vehicle fuel for tractors, grain drying, and food transportation. Unaltered internal combustion engines can run on fuels blended with some ammonia (and everyone is used to window cleaner with it's ammonia content so it is relatively safe). The real problem with burning pure ammonia in regular engines (diesel and gasoline) is the slower flame wave of ammonia but a new engine type called a quasiturbine works very well with slow-flame-wave fuels (like hydrogen that they mentioned but should be fine for ammonia too). The quasiturbine is already in production for chainsaws and lawnmowers and has proved itself to be lower in producing nitric oxides so it might make the ammonia's nitric oxide emissions to be low enough to be ignorable.