Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ryan's Air and the ESRI Recommendation


Last November I reported a "cunning plan"  by the then Minister for Energy Eamonn Ryan to invest colossal amounts of money in off-shore wind. I felt strongly at the time that the idea was not well thought out, either technically or financially.

A just published recommendation by the ESRI the Economic and Social Research Institute of Ireland would seem to fully bear out my gut instinct.

The ESRI  Recommendation

“Probably the most important change in the REFIT scheme should be the ending of REFIT incentives for offshore wind and wave and tidal generation. It is premature to incentivise substantial investment in such technologies and it could prove very expensive for the Irish economy, while bringing little or no environmental benefits. Meanwhile, limited taxpayer funds should be provided for research into these technologies as part of Ireland’s research effort.”

My Blog post at the time
Ryan’s Air
hopefully not just Hot Air!

Big wind is afoot. No - not a storm. Irish energy Minister Eamonn Ryan has just announced a kick off of some big plans for massive offshore wind farms. Hold up there - plans - just plans at this stage.

The idea is to construct, over the coming years, off-shore wind capacity some ten times the national energy requirements, and then to sell the nine tenths surplus power to Europe via an interconnect.

First, Ireland will have to do a fair bit of convincing in the EU, and further will have to do some major spinning of the story to convince the lenders to make the necessary funds available.

Playing with Figures

The start up budget for the off-shore winds farm project is only a drop in the ocean compared to the current national deficit, at a piddling €3billion. Eventually, however,  the project budget could reach a figure close enough to the National Debt at around €15billion.

A few Minor Obstacles

Apart from securing the money and subsidies, there are a few small details to consider like:

(a) an off shore grid system,
(b) an interconnect with England, and
(c) European and British contracts to buy the intermittent and erratic wind power we might thereby generate.

Minister Ryan seemed very positive about it all and is quoted as saying “This is very real, this is very much happening today. This is very much at the centre of Government thinking”.

"This is very much" good luck with the plans Minister.


Politics in Ireland!!


Least Trusted Professionals
in Ireland
The Politicians

A recent opinion survey clearly indicates that politicians are, by far, the least trusted profession in Ireland? Gee I wonder why ever that might be the case, that the Irish public don't trust the very people they themselves have elected as their representatives, and law makers??

It would seem that a massive, and truly staggering, 88% of Irish people say they do not trust politicians. That figure reflects very poorly indeed on the profession.

Turn the statement the other way around, and you get; politicians are perceived, by the greater majority of Irish people, to be untrustworthy, in other words, liars and cheats. Politics is not a career of choice for the foreseeable future I would think.

I guess banking would not be too far behind!! It would seem that the various pillars on which our society is built are crumbling and disintegrating rapidly. Wonder where this trend is leading?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sustainability and Junk Mail from An Post


One Mornings Worth of An Post Junk Mail

Junk Mail Adds to Energy Wastage

This morning the postman put one letter into my letter box. At the same time he also put no less than eight separate pieces of Junk-Mail advertising through my door.

It has gone too far - I am totally annoyed - totally pissed-off - and just plain finished with the Irish National Postal Service loading their rubbish through my door. If nothing else, it is a massive waste of natural resources. It takes energy to dispose of this rubbish, and it costs me money, in garbage disposal costs, to dispose of An Post's rubbish mail.

I have therefore devised a "cunning plan" which I am determined to carry out. I am going to send all of An Post's rubbish to the CEO Mr Donal Connell along with some of my own rubbish to balance out all the tons of wasted paper they generate and stuff they put through my door over many years. I will of course NOT STAMP the envelope with this junk mail in it.

Here is my covering letter to An Post's CEO. PLEASE NOTE his address. I encourage you all to do the same with the Postal Services Junk Mail.

Mr Donal Connell
C.E.O. An Post
O’Connell Street
Dublin 1

Dear Mr. Connell,

Today the postman delivered me one letter. He also delivered eight pieces of un-addressed and uninvited junk mail.

Now the problem, apart from the annoyance of receiving uninvited junk mail advertising, is this, that I have to pay to have rubbish disposed of.  Almost every week of the year there are several pieces of An Post’s rubbish pushed into my letterbox. This means I am being forced to pay out my money to get rid of An Post’s junk mail.

I have previously complained about the junk mail problem and I asked that it is no longer delivered to my door but that request was unheeded.

So now, in order to balance out the equation - so to speak - I am returning to you personally the eight pieces of junk-mail that your company put through my door this morning, and I am also sending you some of my junk in lieu of the rubbish you have been putting through my door for several years.

I am now fully determined that I will continue to do this for as long as I continue to get junk mail through my door from An Post. I will also encourage others to take the same course of action.

Yours Sincerely,
Tony McGinley


Friday, April 15, 2011

Redox Batteries at Less Than Half Price?


New Life
70% Extra Capacity
for Old Redox Batteries?

I have written a number of times about the need for electrical storage in wind-generated energy. One of the current ways of doing this is the Redox or Flow Battery. There are various incarnations of the flow battery; one of these is the “vanadium” ion flow battery.

The general use of vanadium redox batteries has however been limited by both high capital cost and by their inability to work well in varying temperatures, especially in high temperatures. At high temperatures they require very costly cooling systems that also have the disadvantage of using up quite a bit of the electrical power.

Recent findings might indicate that this 20+-year-old technology could get a new lease of life simply by using a modified electrolyte; the performance could be greatly improved.

Half  Price Redox Batteries?

A researcher team at the US D.O.E Pacific Northwest National Laboratory experimented with adding hydrochloric acid to the sulphuric acid typically used in vanadium batteries. They thus increasing the batteries' storage capacity by as much as 70% and at the same time, greatly expanded the temperature range in which they can efficiently operate.

The ability of a Redox battery to store electricity depends on how many ions it can pack into the electrolyte. Vanadium Redox batteries traditionally use sulphuric acid as the electrolyte. Sulphuric acid is limited in the number of ions it can absorb and another drawback is that the batteries have a very limited working range of temperatures, just 10 to 40 C.

On the lower end of that critical temperature range, the ion-infused sulphuric acid crystallizes, and over the top end, and the battery overheats, causing unwanted chemical reactions and the formation of solids which could permanently damage the battery. In order to maintain the optimum working temperature range, various temperature maintaining systems need to be used which result in up to 20% efficiency loss.

The research team experimented with various mixtures of both hydrochloric and sulphuric acids. They found an “ideal balance” when they mixed 6 parts hydrochloric acid with 2.5 parts sulphuric acid. Their tests indicated that the new electrolyte mixture could hold 70% more vanadium ions, giving the battery essentially 70% greater capacity.

The new electrolyte also gives the battery the ability to work in a very broad range of temperatures from -5 to +50 Celsius. This means more flexibility and by reducing the need for cooling etc., it significantly reduces both the capital and the running costs. The new electrolyte has the same general efficiency at room temperature as the old one. Giving 87% efficiency over 20 days.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cheap Chinese LED Bulbs PART 3


Cheap Chinese LED Bulbs

I received a follow-up letter on the last post regarding my tweaking of cheap Chinese LED bulbs:

Nice catch on the thermal paste. I had pretty much given up on the LED versions and switched to the CFL ones, but this requires that I replace the mountings as the bulbs are deeper. I have some LEDs from a couple of years back, not so cheap, but they have lasted. However their light output is way below what is acceptable, how do the more recent ones stack up? I rarely find any statement of SI units of light output on any of them.  Regards: Sinbad Wilmot
Well Sinbad,  as I have stated in my posts, the light output is - for me - quite acceptable, and well above older offerings which had miserable light output. 
I have not bothered to use my light meter to get a scientific measurement - nor do I intend to. You will have to be content with my subjective assessment. 
I will just say this much, that the light output from these 4watt LEDs -  is more than a 20watt halogen and less than a 35watt halogen equivalent type of bulb. This fact, along with the quality of the light being fairly consistent, and the price at around $6 a pop - is good enough for me to run with these bulbs. The question as yet unanswered is: Will these bulbs last the march of time?


Saturday, April 09, 2011

Tweaking $6 LED Lamps


Part 2 of 
Tweaking $6 LED lamps

I have several rooms in my house where I have either MR16 or GU10 type spotlight lamps in various fittings. These fitting have had either 35 watt or 20 watts halogen bulbs in them. I had previously tried some cheap Chinese LED lamps and was very disappointed with them on several accounts:

1. The colour of the light was inconsistent.
2. The light output was low and in some cases, so low as to be little more than a joke.
3. The light colour was unstable and changed towards the blue - purple over a relatively short time of use - six months or so.
4. The lamps failed completely very often.

Second Generation of Cheap LED Lamps

More recently I was seduced by the idea of affordable LED lamps again and scummed to temptation and ordered several lots of GU10 and MR16 4watt warm white LED bulbs. Typical construction included 4 x 1 watt LEDs fixed onto a baseplate, which in turn fitted into a fairly reasonable quality aluminium heatsink.

First impressions of these newer type lamps were that the light output and colour was GREATLY improved on previous offerings. However, about 20% of the bulbs failed or partially failed inside of four to five months use of about 12 hours a day..

The Fix - or possible Fix!!

I decided to investigate and try to find the reason for failure. So my first efforts were to find how these bulbs were put together.

Both the MR16 and the GU10 lamps, as shown above,  have a very similar mechanical construction. The lens rim screws off and allows the lens to come away. Behind the lens are mounted the four LED elements. The LEDs are fixed onto a metal mounting disc. This disc is then fitted into the heatsink.

The problem of blowing LEDs IMHO is mainly caused in these Chinese lamps by the total lack or insufficient quantity of thermal heatsink paste at the point where the mounting disc meats the heatsink flange. LEDs generate a lot of heat and the heat must be carried away efficiently and quickly or the LEDs will be damaged or fail completely.

Two months ago I ordered another bunch of LED lamps. This time, before used them I checked each lamp for thermal integrity.  In 8 lamps, I found two with NO THERMAL PASTE - at all.  I found two more with patently insufficient amount of thermal paste. 

I put plenty of CPU type thermal paste on the heatsink flanges of these lamps and they have been burning for 15+ hours a day since - and none have failed or blown in this batch.- I hope I have cracked it!!

The cost is only a few cents per lamp and about five minutes of my time. I now hope that I have good quality LED lamps. 

At $6 a piece including the shipping - that cannot be bad value - even if you have to put a little work into it!!


Saturday, April 02, 2011

Banks - the LITTLE Rip-Offs


Saw this somewhat undiplomatic Message to Bankers in New York

Banks - the LITTLE Rip-Offs
WARNING - This is an off-subject rant

You know - don’t you, that banks are major rip-off merchants? Of course you do, unless you are a banker or a bankers mother. But do you know that the banks are not just into BIG-TIME multi-billion Euro rip-offs? They are also well practiced and very efficient at small time rip-offs.

You don’t know what I am talking about?  Well then, you must be one of the innocent and uninformed.  Let me tell you about just one of those small-time Bank rip-offs.

A great scam for Banks is in the money transfer business. Did you ever transfer money to another account? Long ago when that process was a manual process, it had to go through a “clearing house” and that added a few days to the process. But as anyone who uses PayPal knows, the modern electronic system is instantaneous.  But Oh No!! That does not apply to Banks.

“It was just Resting in My Account”

When you make an electronic transfer, the money is IMMEDIATELY deducted from the paying account, but it can take up to three days to appear in the receiving account.

So where has the money been for those two or three days??  As Father Ted says, “It was just resting in my account”, that is, in the banks account  - gathering interest as working capital - with your money.

Now if you add up the many millions that pass through the system ever hour, it gives the banks a nice bit of constant extra working capital.

Banks and Bankers are nothing but legalised robbers.


Got a few e-mails in on this post. Yes you are right!! - I have no respect - or trust whatsoever in banks - never did.

Let me tell you a nice one, some years ago, my bank messed up on a lodgement. If I had not been vigilant and generally un-trusting of banks, I would not have spotted the mistake. Eventually I sorted out the where the problem lay and contacted the bank. The official apologised and said the money would be refunded to the account forthwith.

Now banks tend to charge you for all sorts of everything, including a consultation with the manager etc. etc. - so I said to the official that I wanted compensation for my time, telephone calls and loss of interest. "Oh I am sorry sir that is not possible" - so I explained that charging for services works both ways - I had just spent time sorting out a bank problem. "But I am sorry sir we just cannot do that".

Well please put me on to someone with authority. I said and I again explained my position - and added that I would be moving my accounts to another bank immediately if they did not compensate me.  I GOT THE COMPENSATION!!

As I said BANKERS are *ANKERS!
And every bit as reckless and uncaring of the public good as the Fukushima management.