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Compressed Air as power source--2 articles

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  • Compressed Air as power source--2 articles

    These 2 articles are from Low-Tech Magazine, which has many other articles that relate to prepping. That said, maybe some of you already know about it and/or about the idea of compressed air as a form of stored energy. But it not, here's some info on that topic and a taste of what Low-Tech is all about.



    This article was interesting because it pointed out ways we've already used compressed air--for tunneling and mining, but in other industrial activities. Once a few were mentioned, others came to mind: jack hammers to break-up concrete, pneumatic tools in autoshops, etc. Seeing ways it has been and is in use makes it seem more 'doable' as an alternative energy source. History and Future of the Compressed Air Economy

    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2018/...r-economy.html



    I got lost in the technical details of this article, but by skimming it, I get an encouraging sense of possibilities. Ditch the Batteries: Off-Grid Compressed Air Energy Storage

    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2018/...y-storage.html I like the idea of 'CAES' (Compressed Air Energy Storage) because we're already used to the hardware and machines involved from it being sort of an established part of a lot of uses in auto shops, for scuba diving, and so on. Nice to a lot of people around who already know and use and make the parts and systems that would be involved.

    What do you think?
    Been there, done that. Then been there again several times, because apparently I never learn.

  • #2
    Compressed air is a tool, not an energy storage solution. Its on the same level as planning to use oranges for electricity generation.. because you know, if you stick a couple metal rods in an orange, it will generate a current.

    Compressed air is horribly inefficient and requires many times more energy to create than what it gives back, has low energy density (which is putting it mildly), and creates huge safety issues.

    As a tool, compressed air is wonderful, versatile, and can be used for many things.. but storing energy is not one them.

    Comment


    • #3
      As a specialised power source, Compressed air has several uses, IMHO.
      Power tools, and providing positive pressure for a long-term safe-room in WMD, volcanic or mega-fire scenarios.

      Former needs 'rough' work-shop air, but driving your compressor to recharge tank may take contingency planning.

      Latter needs dive-grade / Fireman BA air, with due care for particulates, monoxide, compressor oil and other toxins.

      Um, certainly easier to 'bleed' a set of SCUBA tanks to keep your 'hunker bunker' air clean, but a manual cranked air-pump and filter tubs have their place, too. And you'll need such when the gauges creep down...

      What's the minimum over-pressure to cover external swings as big, bad weather fronts come through ?

      FWIW, probably more efficient to run air-lines to dive masks, hoods and kiddies' 'incubator', let room CO2 rise some-what...

      Added : And 'pony bottles' for excursions, emergencies etc.

      Providing a power source for other machinery, beyond *starting* big diesels or topping off tire pressure, I have my doubts. I reckon air-guns are arguable...

      Comment


      • #4
        don't you need a compressor for compressed air? or do you mean something like pre charged air tanks like a scuba tank or something?
        never seen the point of having a power source post SHTF myself, I haven't got the storage space which would be needed, same reason I don't have solar panels or a wind turbine, I don't have the storage space for the batteries.
        keep it simple, keep it basic, is my motto and my intent.

        Comment


        • #5
          I must be missing something. How do they think compressed air is a good backup energy source? It's not renewable, it won't burn, and the same volume of compressed LP can be used for generating electricity, heating water or heating air. What are it's advantages?

          Dale
          Judge no one, until you have walked in the same mud and spilt the same blood. Him, I call brother.

          Comment


          • #6
            Anyone here heard of, or know what a trompe is?

            this is how things got done before cheap fuel and electricity. Shame the last one in north america was shut down. yes limited by location but efficient, nearly eternally renewable, and I'll wager most never heard of this technology.

            http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2...otten-air.html
            I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by CountryGuy View Post
              Anyone here heard of, or know what a trompe is?

              this is how things got done before cheap fuel and electricity. Shame the last one in north america was shut down. yes limited by location but efficient, nearly eternally renewable, and I'll wager most never heard of this technology.

              http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2...otten-air.html
              Country, Your right, I had never heard of a "Trompe". Looked it up and it's pretty interesting. The only scary downside... I have to reconsider if the steampunk folks are actually crazy. ;)

              Dale
              Judge no one, until you have walked in the same mud and spilt the same blood. Him, I call brother.

              Comment


              • #8
                I hadn't heard of a Trompe until about a year or 2 ago when listening to Geoff Lawton and he was talking about his mentor and one of the fathers of permaculture, Bill Mullison, talking about it. I found a video on Youtube that showed one of the last or the last one in north america in operation at a huge mining region in Canada. after like 100 years they shut it down. It's amazing on many levels including the actual simplicity of it. It'd be interesting to know how small scale one could be made and be usable. so like if you had a constant moving stream in the right terrain you could get a fairly substantial drop to incorporate the air.

                I have to admit, you lost me on the Steampunk reference... Guess I don't get to sit at the cool kids table anymore...lol

                I didn't read the article that Schneb linked. I skimmed it, and maybe it's in the details but where is the energy intiating from to turn the compressor? and compressing air isn't super efficient, it takes lots of energy and there is lots of energy loss (all that heat given off) and to store sufficient energy for a car, think of how large a tank would be needed and how high the pressure would have to be to make the "battery" source substantial enough. But definitely some cool ideas and they are not all new age ideas... as they say, some times the old ways are the best ways.
                I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!

                Comment


                • #9
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtYLVLkWyGc&t=50s
                  I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yesterday, I found this excellent diagram and a general overview of the trompe system. It is a good simple introduction.

                    http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2...otten-air.html

                    Edited to add: ha ha! I just now noticed that Country Guy already provided this link earlier in this thread...



                    Click image for larger version  Name:	trompe02.jpg Views:	1 Size:	33.9 KB ID:	216555
                    Last edited by GrizzlyetteAdams; 10-21-2018, 01:15 PM.
                    Genius is making a way out of no way.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      On another note,I have been researching the possibilities of using an additional ram pump or two in a trompe to make a semi-closed system which could be useful in situations where there is no available natural running stream of water.


                      (Newton's Law of Thermodynamics, and all that...I know, I know, but...I have LOTS of questions that I would like to explore with you all...)

                      More later on that...but until then take a look at these Google images that came up under the search term "using a ram pump with a trompe system."

                      https://www.google.com/search?q=usin...9859g6Pl5ovOIM:
                      Genius is making a way out of no way.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dalewick View Post
                        I must be missing something. How do they think compressed air is a good backup energy source? It's not renewable, it won't burn, and the same volume of compressed LP can be used for generating electricity, heating water or heating air. What are it's advantages?

                        Dale
                        It's been a while since I read/posted the initial article, but I think the idea is, once you have a way to compress air and store it--whether in small cylinders that could be mobile and interchangeable, or in a large tank or something like that, you could use the compressed air to power tools or a generator and, compared to batteries which would degrade over time and eventually need replacing, you'd have nearly permanent way to store energy.

                        I think it's all about replacing a bank of batteries with a big air tank (like the type for LP use at cabins and such?).

                        It's not perfect--the article being so long and technical kinda points to the fact that it's a complicated. BUT--there are a lot of ways people already use compressed air, or move tanks of one or another kind of compressed gas (oxygen, LP, etc.) so we have pretty well worked out the hardware and such.

                        But yeah, it's kind of a fringe-y, out-there idea. (Probably another reason for the original article being so long--the author knew he had a lot of explaining to do if he was going to convince people of what he was saying).

                        Of course, those fringe-y, out-there ideas are the ones that are interesting to share hear and see what other folks think.
                        Been there, done that. Then been there again several times, because apparently I never learn.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There is a nice discussion about Trompe systems in a Facebook group called "self sufficiency for economic sustainability"

                          It was initiated yesterday by admin Sue Staley yesterday...

                          Here are bits and pieces of the dialogue:

                          Robert Hatting: I use this system to create air power- then use the air to run tools and generate 12V.

                          Shannon Simmons: A lot of industrial uses for this back in late 1800's early 1900's as our cities along rivers grew. Whole factories were powered off this free compressed air.

                          Sil Young: They used this system before the the modern highly efficient electrical turbines were developed. Generating electricity is much more efficient if you can.

                          Shannon Simmons: Sil Young yes it is if you have the ability. That's what brought an end to this on a large scale in the early 1900's. But on small scale if you have the right location to do this efficiency really doesnt matter because your not paying for gravity or water. No moving parts low maintenance and could be put together with low tech scrap.

                          Matt Obermiller : Very cool! Never seen anything like it before. My question is, falling water has orders of magnitude more energy than compressed air. Why ignore the great potential of the water in favor of the small potential of the compressed air?

                          Robert Hatting : Answer to the question is: one can store air for a long time.

                          Robert Hatting : Storage can be any size -- from your tires to huge tanks. I ran power tools with air directly from storage -- no need to convert to electricity and then store in a battery. Also, air is green -- hydro dams destroy the ecosystem in some areas.

                          Jethro Bodine: Would really work good in mountainous areas with small creeks



                          ^^^ (note to self) no creek or mountainous area? why not install a ram pump which would bring water to the required height without the use of electricity, etc. Then add a second ram pump to the water flowing out of the Trompe system to return it to the intake?

                          Genius is making a way out of no way.

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