Sunday, November 28, 2010

Is this a perpetual motion machine?

28 Nov '10: I am having to take a helluva lot of criticism from people on the Navi tron forum, and I really dont understand why people do not let my experiment continue, and patiently wait for the result like I am having to do.
  This system has had only 2 months of the winter so far, starting from October 1. It is too early to be crushing the author with excoriating criticisms, everybody has come in for it, myself, family, children, students, job, Phd student, Datataker, Sontex... nobody has been spared.
  Come on, give me some time to test this, and to improve my expertise! This is a piece of Plumbing for crying out loud! Ground charging schemes need 5 years to get up to speed (see other articles), and some artificially boost the ground in the first few years until the sun has provided enough to reach steady state.
   I am not trying to sell them something, or compete with the company who hosts the forum, I am an individual, and a prospective customer for future projects. I am not submitting it for 'peer review', I am reporting on my findings. If a product comes out of it, NT might be the right company to take it on. So be patient!
   It is my research fund that has been expended on it, not theirs, nobody is buying anything, so what is the aggression for? I have been accused of 'not presenting it clearly' - well I am not doing a 3 minute pitch on the Apprentice, I am not selling anything, I am testing and discovering something. The blog is a 'diary' format, and key points worth presenting are stored in the Tabs at the top of the blog. There seems to be real resentment that I report on it using a blogsite, but this comes from the old fashioned pre-blog days when one might have used the forum to report every twist and turn.

   Things have been quiet recently, and I have enjoyed discussions in some areas, such as high rise, passivhaus etc. Suddenly last weekend there was an eruption of real nastiness. There is a particularly critical individual called Chris who writes:

'What David claims to have managed is another perpetual energy machine. He's in some pretty good company, but at the end of the day he claims to be warming himself at the expense of , well what...? Could it be the warmth of his wall? could it be temperature of the soil in the garden? I don't know, but certainly any attempt to refine the question is being met with increasingly aggressive responses. Sadly this is another characteristic of the Perpetual energy community. The reference to their own integrity over provable data and the anger are recognised characteristics'

'And there in lies the community skepticism. Because I don't believe this is a malicious hoax, I believe it's simply an individual outside of his own area of expertise, worried because he has started to realize some of the flaws. Having re-read the 'mirrors' thread in light of the beast it has become, I'm surprised by how much consideration was given. The original premise of mirrors seems to have moved from the top to the bottom upon suggestion, and it is interesting to note both Martin and myself worried about wind blowing things off, independently, but the overriding approach has been similar to a spoilt child, I'll take my toys away if you don't play my way, wait till winter is over and how dare you question me?, cos I've got lots of massive projects waiting, and you'll lose all these orders if you don't act nice.'

  By the way, he hasn't told me anything about what he is doing other than that he has '30 tubes' - what does that mean? Evacuated tubes, doing what precisely? Heating what? I have asked more than once, and still he doesn't reveal.
  His posting isn't the only one.  He claims that he speaks for the entire 'skeptical community'. So hostile is the attitude, that I have taken to referring to my system as the 'chocolate teapot' with the 'diddly-squat mirrors' as a form of humorously self-deprecating self defence because they were calling it that enough times.
  He says he doesn't believe this is a 'malicious hoax'. We all know this is double speak of the sort "I don't believe you are a wife beater but...." that plants the idea in the mind of the reader, and followed up by his link to, there is no further doubt as to the degree of malice intended.
   As for worries about my mirrors 'blowing off', I don't think he has examined my solid aluminium brackets. His reference to 'martin' was an item suggesting that the mirrors would scare passing jet planes - which I took as good humour. Martin is a gruff knowledgable person with a sense of humour.
  As for the reference to 'large projects'.... well I am doing some. As to asking whether I am heating the house from the soil in the garden, the answer is YES YES YES! Am I recycling heat from the wall back into the house, NO NO NO!
   He claims to be a moderator, but how can a moderator on a forum of a company retailing ground source heat pumps not know that heat can be lifted from the ground?
  Anybody who has seen a Stirling Engine on YouTube powered just by a cone of metal reflectors facing the sun will see what appears to someone like Chris to be a perpetual motion machine - mirror reflectors driving an engine?? Well, the news is that it stops when the source of power stops, after sunset.
  What is wrong with waiting till Winter is over? This isn't a time based computer simulation which can be speeded up, it's in the real world with a real family in a real house, and Time is the only way to test it. Other projects I have looked at, eg Anneberg, Sweden require 5 years to settle in, and Xolar in Austria require 7.
   I won't know fully how the GSHP has performed in its first real winter (using charged ground) until May 2011, and I won't know if the mirrors have changed things until a summer has completed by Oct 2011.

My reply on the forum, here's much of it:

'There are some who will continue to think that ground source heat pumps are perpetual energy machines, and funnily, I agree with you completely. I still meet people who assure me that there is no need to recharge the ground as there is 'infinite' heat down there, and so we can all cheerfully have heatpumps and draw heat up for ever. I contend that theres nothing infinite about the ground, because our boreholes are fixed in position, and can only reach a finite distance. Ground temperatures in Arizona cannot reach my house, neither can heat from under the Nottingham Forest ground.... therefore it is not infinite.'

'There is another more obvious perpetual energy machine available to us, it's there for another billion years or so before it burns out... called the SUN. It appears every day, even during the winter, even though it is often hidden behind clouds.'

'I am surprised that there is someone left on this forum who doesnt realise that the sun is a source of energy that lasts longer than our lifetimes - but Chris, welcome.'

'We are not talking about volcanic heat, that is far deeper down. We are talking about solar gain by the earths crust. Actually, I live on the edge of the city with a large open field behind me and a north-south oriented tarmac road alongside. so, yes, we could get solar. But others live in denser areas, or east west roads, where the ground is shaded by the houses and trees, and little opportunity for summer sun to penetrate. And what happens if all the neighbours have boreholes too?'

'I very much wish I had kept metering records from the time we occupied this house. I would be more sure about whether the GSHP progressed steadily for its first three years, or if it was better in its first year, and declining each year due to borehole chilling. Having made the decision to have one, it now seems crazy not to have kept records. I think there is a mentality with GSHP owners to think "Oh, we are getting all this free heat from the ground, we can cheerfully turn up the heating or have plenty of hot baths"'. 

'Having become aware that the electricity bills were far too high, I made the decision in August 2009 to record electricity meters every day, and at the same time had the thought, that logically, the ground must get colder every year. It doesnt seem credible that my deep ground can recover fully over a short summer after a long winter of depletion.' 

'As a quick aside, the present situation is:
 External air temp -5.0º
 Sunbox air temp is 23.2º 
 Heat pump heating the house, putting glycol up to sunboxes at 3.5º at 15 l/min
 Returning from 4 sqm of sunboxes at 5.2º, going down to the ground,
 Returning from ground at 7.5º, from the twin 48m boreholes.'

'Last sunday night, after 4 hours of 'resting' the deep ground temperature in my boreholes was 11.3º How many other people with GHSP at this end of November with the coldest November weather since 1993 have boreholes in double figure temperatures? We are three weeks from the solstice, and the boxes are reducing the chilling - simply that.'

'If you can get solar heat directly pumped 48m down in pipes which already exist (their embodied energy now paid for), using low powered (30W) pump powered by PV panels, what is there not to like? It is not a perpetual motion machine because the sun is the power source and it only shines in daytime, when it is not overcast. 
But this brings in the age old principle of Storage - you store things for using later. Its as old as Genesis.'

'Last year the heating of my house required 3,000 kWh.
Last year, the PV roof generated 3,325 kWh.'

'There are many ways to measure carbon neutrality (and I reject all based on offsetting or tariff tweaking), but what is there not to like about the two figures above? 
Using the grid as a store. Above that 3,000, I need power for DHW, lighting, cooking and appliances.'

Actually, storage is older than Genesis, there are examples in early cave dwellings of food stores and water stores, long before the invention of writing. Some of the earliest evidence of human activity are pots or broken pots, which would have been used to store grain or olive oil.
   I didn't start this as an engineer knowing fully what he was doing and willing to subject it to peer-review. I set out as a householder and architect-academic with an interest in plumbing to follow a hunch that I could improve things using second hand materials : the pump, thermostat, flowmeter and black panels are donated from previous experiments by others. If it works, I shall undoubtedly tighten up the monitoring regime, although people who have seen my spreadsheet think it's already sufficiently OCD!

Feb '11 postscript: If there is anything 'malicious' here it is truly expressed in the contemptuous and moronic utterings of this Chris Wyleu characters. He then embarked on a smiting campaign against me later in February, and got me banned because I objected to being smitten so much. 

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