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  • More on the JTEC

    Posted by Shannon Love on October 16th, 2008 (All posts by )

    Here’s diagram of how the JTEC works. 

    Click for animated flash version

    (click on image for animated flash illustration)

    Here’s an article with more details.

    Honestly, this is one of those, “it’s perfectly obvious. Why didn’t I think of it?” sort of ideas. Good god, I wish I had money to invest!


    5 Responses to “More on the JTEC”

    1. Joseph Somsel Says:

      Get a grip.

      The thermodynamic efficiency of such a cycle is determined, like all such cycles, by the difference between the hot side and the cold side. the bigger the temperature difference the higher the efficiency. For example, a conventional nuclear power plant has a hot side of about 540 deg F and a cold side of about 120 deg F for a nominal thermal efficience of 33%.

      Efficiency is important for two reasons. First, high eficiency needs less energy and second, the size of the equipment per unit output goes down with increased efficiency.

      A nuclear fission reaction can produce essentially infinite temperature but the key question here is, what is the maximum operating temperature of the proton conversion material (PCM)? If it is a plastic or other organic material, it won’t be very high and a low efficiency will result. Still, it looks like it will have applications somewhere down the road but its efficency won’t be much different from conventional thermocouples.

      One of the irritating aspects of the public awareness of our energy problems is that a lot of obviously unworkable promotions get touted or even decent ideas get over-promised.

      There is no free lunch nor miracle cures out there.

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      Joseph Somsel,

      There is no free lunch nor miracle cures out there.

      Well, duh. However, there is nothing that says that the mechanical rotation of wire through a magnetic field is the ultimate real world means of generating an electrical current. Steam generation chains are far below theoretical optimal efficiency. The thermal criticality of water, friction loss in the turbines and generators etc all leech energy out of the system.

      Fuel cells work on the same principle and the very best fuel cells produce electricity very efficiently. I don’t see anything in the basic physics that would prevent the JTEC from being as efficient as at least mid-sized steam generators.

    3. Robert Schwartz Says:

      BTW. It does not appear that Johnson’s company is public.

    4. ArtD0dger Says:

      Joseph Somsel – I don’t doubt that you have some expertise here. Care to tell us why high temperature proton-conducting membranes are not forthcoming? Perhaps if you typed slowly using short words (other than “get a grip”), then public awareness promotion wouldn’t have to be so irritating for you.

    5. Obloodyhell Says:

      > The thermodynamic efficiency of such a cycle is determined, like all such cycles, by the difference between the hot side and the cold side.

      1) You didn’t actually bother to go read about anything regarding this, did you?
      Had you done so, you would have known that they have already gotten 40% Carnot efficiency from this, and are hoping to boost it to 85%. That latter is well above standards for steam generation.

      2) This may well also affect power generation in general. From what I read of this, it looks like it’s pretty much a “fast start” power source. This can probably have a substantial affect on one of the key problems of power usage, which is the need to keep load and generation balanced, which means that they have to have both highly-efficient “constant” generation in place, and have “quick start” less efficient generation to deal with peaks. The “quick start” mechanisms are far less efficient than the constant generation systems. Assuming my speculation is correct, it may well substantially improve this situation.

      3) I am not and have never been a proponent of either wind or solar power, but, if you know anything, then you know that one major problem with using those two as a substantial source, you know it is their inconstancy (vs. that load-v-generation problem) which is a key problem area. At the least, if my assumption in “2” is correct, this can help notably with keeping that balance by massively improving the efficiency of “quick start” generation.

      4) Yes, the temperature differential is a limiting factor. Since they are already talking about the low side being at room temperature, and the high side at ca. 1100 degrees C, what is your complaint, again?

      5) Scalability — One problem with any power generation is SCALE. What is the maximum size plant? What is the minimum? This device clearly works on a small scale, with at least adequate efficiency. Here’s a picture of one, with Johnson. That can mean an awful lot in terms of distributed generation. The advantages of large scale generation can be counterbalanced by the issue of transmission losses, which are far from negligible. At the very least, it may make neighborhood co-generation plants practical — esp. if you use a small box of, say, thorium as the heat source. Design it to not even need moderation, just use the heat or don’t, and enclose it in a thick fat box that can handle the worst heat it can generate. Make its components small and hot-swappable, so that it can be replaced and/or repaired by just about anyone. Locate a small, shielded, “Here I Am!” radio pulse generator inside the box (which probably uses the container as an antenna) so that anyone tries to steal it, it can be found before the material can be removed and spirited away (I think people will notice if their power plant goes missing). Etc.

      6) I myself have commented on OTEC, which this might have an effect on because the current systems are woefully inefficient at dealing with the small temperature differentials involved. Yes, that statement is made with a grasp of the fact that greater efficiencies occur at higher temperatures, but this counterweights the fact that current systems only manage about 5-8% efficiency, from my reading. If they can get it up from there — to 20% or more, then it may well manage to make it worthwhile, due to the vastness of the ocean surface and the zero cost of “generation”. And it’s fully scalable — you can build a pilot plant, then attach a larger one, and just keep adding and adding to it.

      In short, what the heck is your complaint, again?

      > One of the irritating aspects of the public awareness of our energy problems is that a lot of obviously unworkable promotions get touted or even decent ideas get over-promised.

      Another one is people who haven’t even taken time to look at the proposed solution expressing with pompous voluminosity their ignorance as to its application to the given problem.

      I find that’s usually a sign of either/and:
      a) actual ignorance of the problem itself, usually as a result of only slight awareness of the physics/engineering involved, extended far beyond its worth
      b) a lack of imagination on the part of the individual as to how something might be applied, with their heads stuck only in “THE WAY” to solve the problem — that same way it’s always been done, “’cause their daddy did it that way, and their gran’daddy did it that way, and that’s good enough for them.”

      No one is saying this is a miracle system. One can see it isn’t going to solve all problems with a swoop. But at the very least, it opens up new options and may offer solutions to existing roadblocks.