Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Distributed Processing In Our Power Distribution System

Distributed processing used to be the cliche term that first went into vogue when minicomputers, and desktop systems, started taking over from the room sized mainframes. It was certainly appropriate, though, given the advantages that networking in general was beginning to be recognized as having.

It has always been interesting to me that we don't talk so much about distributed processing when we think about power production and distribution.

You could understand it early on, certainly, as power production necessarily started out as an endeavor centered on a quite significant installations; either damming a river, building the cooling and protection for a nuke plant, or placing big coal burners far enough away from where we normally live and work.

We've had fuel cells for some time now, though -- with their size coming down significantly over the last few years especially, and we've had the wind technology to solve the low power density problem (which the Yen Tornado Turbine does, as it happens) of wind, for many decades as well. As such, producing hydrogen at sea with wind power has also been quite possible.

Assuming you could deliver liquid hydrogen, point to point regionally regardless of whether it was over water or over land, fairly efficiently, why haven't we been asking ourselves this question: Why do we maintain a separate, expensive to maintain, single use delivery pathway, for electrical power over wires at all?

The thing is, we are certainly going to be keeping roads and highways going well into the future, in any case, for distribution of a lot of other things, and those right of ways offer integration advantages with the various sorts of piping any society has to have as well. Why don't we just accept that and look at delivering hydrogen to fuel cells, instead of electrons to a meter, and main power panel. And we do that to the best degree of granularity that we can with structures that require power, limiting the wire to the structure itself. That way, the water byproduct might at least be used to augment toilet flushing, or yard watering. And you would also get away from the triple+ whammy of wastage when you burn something to generate steam so that you can then turn the movement of magnets into electrons, lose some electrons on the way there to heat, and then use the electrons to create heat again for the house, or cooking. With hydrogen delivered (by pipe or cryogenic vehicle to storage tanks) you can burn it directly for heating or cooking, and the fuel cell gives you one of the most efficient ways there are to make on demand electrons.

This is just another reason why I think hydrogen is the way to go for our fuel requirements. Look into this yourself and see what you think. Do it quickly, though, because the clock is ticking.