DailyDirt: Boiling Water More Efficiently

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Boiling water might sound like a common and easy thing to do, but precisely because it’s such a ubiquitous activity, if we can make it more efficient, we can save a sizable amount of energy. Maybe you’ve tried not watching a kettle to see if it boils faster, but far more serious efforts are making progress on more efficient boiling. Cookware isn’t the only application that could benefit from more efficient thermal transfer. Check out these examples of making hot water using less energy.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Boiling Water More Efficiently”

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Your Pirate Reportor says:

Good news, everyone! Pirate Mike posting again at Suprbay!


Let’s look at the stats, Biff, and see what we can learn.

Pirate Mike has made roughly 710 posts of Techdirt articles at SuprBay over roughly ten months; let’s say average 70 posts a month. Only 7 posts by today June 9th looks FAR less than previous rate…

From one post time (apparently CST), if done manually, he was up at 5:38 AM (in New York) or 2:38 AM (in Frisco). — Seems to indicate his posts aren’t automated, else why pick such odd hour / minute?

Currently, the three posts made today (latest says 5 hours ago) have a total of 56 views. FIFTY SIX.

1 reply thus far. ONE.

So why does Pirate Mike keep posting there for at least TEN months now? Is he desperate for readers? If he spent even 3 minutes to get 56 readers (none new, I bet!), that’s ridiculous waste of time.

Of course, by this and future hootage, I hope to keep Mulish Mike from stopping! But either way, I get the hoots!

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Real Issue of Cooking is Safety.

About a year ago, we had a fire in my apartment building. A group of young men attempted to grill food by placing a number of layers of aluminum foil on top of the electric stove-top burners. The burner’s heating element might have been at 1300-1400 deg. F, and the melting point of aluminum is only 1100-1200 deg. F, so that was bound to end badly. Young men in groups, eg. students or GI’s, tend to cook rather like children, and they are prone to the same kinds of cooking misadventures. Children sometimes give themselves serious burns, climbing up on stoves to reach the controls. Women, even very young women, are not prone to that kind of mistake, but that reflects serious and supervised kitchen training, starting at the age of seven or so. I recall that at the age of twelve or so, my kid sister was doing omelettes and chicken cordon bleu.

I have reflected on the safety issues of the stove-top burner, and I have come to the conclusion that it is time to abolish the stove-top burner. Cooking apparatus needs to be designed with integral heating elements, which can be properly insulated, both in the electrical and the thermal senses of the word. There is no need to get the food hotter than five hundred degrees or so. There is room for discussion about how energy is to be delivered to the cooking utensils. Electricity and magnetic flux are good candidates, as they can be automatically shut off in a mili-second by a suitable safety device. To drive heat across an imperfect contact between two pieces of metal– the present system– requires excessive temperatures.

I made some rough-and-ready thermodynamic calculations for my microwave oven, and came to the conclusion that it is about ten percent efficient when cooking small quantities of stuff, eg. making a cup of instant coffee. Conventional domestic water heaters are very efficient, say 95%+, but they tend to accumulate gunk, and their water is not reliably pure enough for drinking. The problem about a Nanostructure surface is, how do you clean it? A Mr. Coffee-type coffeemaker works on the principle of an immersion coil, with suitable safety interlocks, and is highly efficient.

There are specialized little microwave ovens, design for laboratory use, capable of being plugged into pipelines, and heating a fluid as it passes through. In the case I read about, circa 1980, one of these little ovens was being used to put small quantities of ceramic materials, mixed with a carrier gas, into a vacuum-incandescent state, so that their infrared spectra could be measured. Of course, nowadays, a laser in a vacuum chamber would be a better solution.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Carnot's Law

The dominant limitation on power plant efficiency is the Third Law of Thermodynamics, otherwise known as Carnot’s Law, that is:

Theoretical Maximum Efficiency = (Absolute_Temp_Hot_End – Absolute_Temp_Cold_End ) / Absolute_Temp_Hot_End

Bearing in mind that Absolute Zero is -459 F, it is practically rather difficult to find a place to drain heat at less than 500-550 deg Abs. For an engine to be really efficient, its hot end has to be hot enough to melt steel, let alone copper. If you burn fuel in oxygen,you can get it to burn at 5000-6000 deg. F. That is hot enough that the result is a plasma. You can contain a plasma in a magnetic field, and extract most of its energy electromagnetically in the course of cooling the plasma to about two thousand degrees, at which point it ceases to be a plasma, and is fed into an ordinary steam plant. This is called a Magneto-Hydro-Dynamic process (MHD). A combined MHD-steam cycle can be something like 60% efficient. The main losses, of course, come from the super-hot plasma throwing off visible light and infrared radiation faster than the MHD coil can extract electro-mechanical energy.

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