The Corpus Callosum

i-3be1ece9aafc72cf769be857cce5f1a5-WindTurbineFt.Sumner_000.jpgWe are most
accustomed to seeing power generation windmills on dry land, here in
the USA.  In Europe, some are on land and some are offshore.
 They generally are considered eyesores.  Myself, I
think they are beautiful.  I love to see them up on a ridge,
turning away, churning out megawatts for our energy-hungry populace.

Would I want one in my back yard?  Sure.  In fact,
there is a fair probability that I will put one there, if it won’t
alienate my neighbors too much.

But there’s the rub.  Despite the fact that I think they are
aesthetically pleasing,  most people do not.  Now,
the Norwegian energy concern, Norsk Hydro,
and the German electrical/electronics engineering firm, ,
are exploring the possibility of building floating windmills for power
generation without the aesthetic problem…

to , it is
possible that the first units will be up and running in 2009:

hopes to have a prototype operating in the North Sea by 2009. It is
projected to cost 200 million Norwegian kroner (25.2 million euros or
$34.3 million), although the project’s finances have yet to be agreed

Hydro has already spent 30 million kroner on developing its floatation
technology. Siemens says it will spend several million euros on the
project over the next two years.

If all goes well, the partnership is hoping to have an off-shore wind
energy field set up by 2013, using 5 megawatt wind turbines…

The idea is that they could be used to power offshore oil rigs, or
shoreline communities.  My question is, what would you do with
the whole conglomeration of an oil rig and its accompanying windmills,
once the oil runs out?  That is a big investment.

I don’t know, I’m not an engineer, but I had a thought while
getting to sleep last night: reconfigure the oil rigs to be electroylic
hydrogen producers

In order to make hydrogen, you need two things: electricity, and water.
 The only major byproduct is oxygen, something few people find
objectionable.  The thing is, if you use seawater, you end up
with all the salt and other stuff, but that would not be a problem in
the ocean.  

Producing hydrogen at sea does leave you with a problem: how do you get
the hydrogen to where it is needed?  Would the pipelines used
for oil work?  I don’t know.  But there could be
another solution.

If the global economy is to continue, we need to figure out how to
operate cargo ships without fossil fuel.  Could it be done
with hydrogen?  Again, I don’t know, but it seems feasible.
 You would need a lot of it, though.  So the answer
would be to use the oil platforms as fueling stations for
hydrogen-powered ships.  That might not be a perfect solution,
since, ideally, the fueling stations would be on major shipping lanes.
 How easy is it to move an oil rig?

Clearly, there would be problems to solve.  I don’t know how
feasible it would be.  But one thing has become clear in the
debate over the solutions to the peak oil
.  That is, there is not going to be one
single solution, nor should there be.  

The ideal solution will involve power generation from a variety of
sources, in widely-distributed locations.  The more
distributed the power generation capacity is, the harder it will be for
anyone to disrupt, as from terrorism or natural disasters.
 Also, the more varied it is, the harder it will be for anyone
the corner the market, or to manipulate the market.  

So, there is potentially something in this for everyone.  Free-market advocates should like the idea that no one could
centralize control of the energy market.  Homeland security
advocates should like the idea of having a system that has no central
points, where a substantial part of the system could be disrupted.
advocates should like the idea that transoceanic
can be sustained.  Advocates of economic
should like the idea of having an energy sector
that is not so susceptible to dramatic up and down swings.
enthusiasts should like the idea of a market that with true
competition.   should like the idea of renewable,
minimally-polluting energy generation.



  1. #1 proudprogressive
    July 9, 2007

    Wind Mills of the 21 st century are beautiful, to my heart and eye. Miles of them in the right place..oversome hillsides or prairies..YESSSSS. The Wind. The Wind.

    In fact so beautiful that you and your work are blog rolled sushi rolled linked or whatever at Notes.aka the edits of pp. Under Links for Info Junkies.

    YES, Wind Power is essential in the scheme of things. The Earthly Gastalt,so to speak is not complete without Windmills. Hope you will come and give Notes a forewarned…succinct and i are not close buddy’s But some of the team are ! So there is hope.

    – pp

  2. #2 David Magadini
    July 10, 2007

    I think floating windmills is a great idea. It eliminates the problems associated with affixing the windmills to the sea floor, you don’t have to worry about them staying put. The water holds them up in accord with the laws of physics. With regard to power for oil rigs, I believe fuel cells are a better choice. Some sea oil rigs vent natural gas into the atmosphere because of transport problems.A better choice would be to convert natural gas and oil into electric power to power the oil rig via fuel cells. Electic power from floating windmills allows more flexibility in locations, and in my opinion are a superior idea compared those attached to the sea floor.

    With regard to generation of hydrogen from sea water, while you get hydrogen you also get chlorine (not oxygen) and lye.
    2NaCl + 2H20 + electricity = 2NaOH + H2 + Cl2

    If hydrogen and oxygen are to be produced from seawater, then desalinization is required prior to the use of elecric power to decompose water into hydogen and oxygen.

  3. #3 Joseph j7uy5
    July 10, 2007

    Thanks for the update. That would make it less practical than I had imagined. The desalination would be possible, but I don’t know how efficient or feasible it would be.

    If lye and chlorine gas were produced, it would be a problem, obviously.

  4. #4 Dunc
    July 11, 2007

    They generally are considered eyesores.

    I’m not actually sure if that’s true. Some people consider them eyesores, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a decent survey that would let you conclude that they’re generally considered eyesores. Anecodotally, I encounter far more people who like them than don’t.

    Would the pipelines used for oil work?

    No, they wouldn’t. Hydrogen has this amazing ability to diffuse through steel – leaving it extremely brittle. They would both leak and fail early.

    However, there’s absolutely no issue with getting the electricity to land. Electricity can be transported far more easily and efficiently than hydrogen.

    There are so many practical engineering problems with large-scale use of hydrogen as a fuel that I’m not at all convinced that it’s feasible, outside of a few very specialized applications. It’s far more efficient just to use the electricity, rather than use it to electrolyse water and compress the hydrogen to a point where it’s viable to transport. To achieve an energy density comparable to that of oil, you need to compress hydrogen to about 5000 psi, or liquefy it – both of which are extremely energy-intensive processes, and both of which raise further significant engineering difficulties in storage.

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