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Meet EATR (Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot):

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EATR is not a dainty diner:

The system obtains its energy by foraging – engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable.

See here.

The belly of the beast-to-be will be Cyclone Power's external combustion engine.  The company claims its engine can run on dainties from chicken fat to orange peelings to swamp gas to waste heat.  

The first order was for an engine utilizing waste heat.  None of its engines have yet been delivered.  In the nature of things none may ever be delivered.  

Just a caution.  DARPA has delivered on such innovations as the internet but has also buried a few things that didn't work out such as - intelligent robots.

In the case of EATR, DARPA's current heart throb will need a brain to distinguish rocks, concrete, soil and other materials from food.  Brains are not easy to come by as the GOP is finding out.

Those who think we can only have electricity as fossil fuels are abandoned when the sun is shining or the wind blows may need a brain transplant as well.  EATR might help show the way.

Best,  Terry

Originally posted to terryhallinan on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 07:22 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why reinvent the wheel? (0+ / 0-)

    They would be better served using InEnTec's Plasma Enhanced Melter (PEM) system, which can take virtually anything, any waste stream, in on one end (even toxic and radioactive waste) and produce nothing but syngas for fuel and inert glass pellets that can be used for road surfacing, construction and other uses.

    Proven technology, supported by a couple dozen patents - plus, a Native American tribe is a major investor and partners with InEnTec on federal contracts, so they stand to benefit from expansion of business prospects.

    Some PEM models already fit on the back of a truck.

    http://www.inentec.com/...

    (And, no, I am not an investor, employee or consultant to the company and have no other stake in it - I just found out about them a few days ago.)

    One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

    by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 07:39:10 PM PST

    •  InEnTec Is Not The Only Game In Town (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth

      and certainly not the only one using plasma technology to deal with waste streams.

      For all I know they may be first-in-class.  They do have an impressive list of collaborators.

      As mentioned EATR has lots of parts and pieces.  We had another intelligent robot, conventionally fueled, in a lab where I worked years ago. It vanished into the mists of time like many other prospective developments.

      Not so easy for robots to find their way around.  Even Republicans can perform that task all too well.

      Best,  Terry

      •  Other than to those investing in EATR (0+ / 0-)

        what is the benefit to humanity over simpler solutions? EATR seems to consume, not waste products, but useful biomass along with traditional, nonrenewable fuels. Basically, it is a super-goat, with a super-appetite. How does that benefit the environment?

        I'm no engineer, I'm just wondering what this diary is doing here. Is it astroturf for a company involved with EATR? Daily Kos would seem an odd venue for that.

        If it is a diary about a potentially interesting technological innovation with environmental implications, that's great - but then, what is the value proposition of EATR to humanity, as opposed to helping the military eat its way through invaded nation's natural resources?

        Just seems like an odd subject for a DK diary.

        One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

        by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 08:20:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, that was unnecessarily harsh (0+ / 0-)

          I'm irritated by an advocate of Intelligent Design in another thread who poses as a science teacher and diaries about evolution. Shouldn't have let that irritation spill over into this diary.

          To restate my comment more constructively - what are the positive contributions EATR technology can make to our lives?

          One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

          by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 08:29:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kalmoth

            What EATR would do is utilize waste biomass, among other fuel.  

            Most discussion of biomass feedstock involves agriculture.  Open loop biomass power generation that utilizes waste is punished by tax laws as not worthy. That is despite the fact that it can even have a very positive effect on the environment by, for instance, retrieving wood from landfills.

            DARPA's mission is a military one without a doubt but it has given us such innovations as the internet and GPS.  Some think those things are worthy.

            I'm irritated by an advocate of Intelligent Design in another thread

            You mean you don't believe we are intelligent? :-)

            Best,  Terry

            •  Thanks for responding to the nice version :-) (0+ / 0-)

              Re: the tax laws - I wasn't aware of that. What was the rationale, incorrect though it may be, that led to that penalty? Seems many alternative energy projects suffer the same bureaucratic challenges.

              I should make clear I am no foe of DARPA. However, the RFP was for something that could, essentially, eat its way across the landscape, was it not? I remember discussion of this some years ago, perhaps when the project was first initiated, and the super-goat metaphor seemed apt then as well.

              It would be wonderful to have an autonomous device that one could plop down, say, at the site of the Appalachia coal slurry spill, and it would ingest the waste and extrude clean water and inert solids on the other end - but that doesn't seem to be EATR's mission or design (it does seem that something like the PEM technology could be adopted to such a purpose, though).

              EATR seems focused on finding a way for the military to continue running on its belly all the way through the battlefield. It's reminiscent of infantry eating their way through the local crops as they burn down the villages.

              If I've got that wrong, apologies.

              One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

              by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:00:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  EATR Eating Biomass (0+ / 0-)

                Understand the external combustion engine that would propel EATR would be able to use all manner of fuel.  As mentioned, the very first order was for an engine fueled by waste heat.  Even solar is mentioned as fueling EATR as well as the usual fossil fuels.

                Re: the tax laws - I wasn't aware of that. What was the rationale, incorrect though it may be, that led to that penalty?

                Certain technologies are favored in writing tax laws.  Naturally oil and gas are at the top of the heap but wind and solar have also enjoyed particular benefits as opposed to other green energy.

                The New York Times recently did a story on the less favorable treatment of geothermal and biomass.

                I think it is rather obvious to any observer that the rationale behind most laws is popular appeal and lobbying.

                In the case of the penalizing of biomass power from waste as opposed to agriculture, my supposition is that Big Ag as well as small farmers have vested interests supported.

                I should make clear I am no foe of DARPA. However, the RFP was for something that could, essentially, eat its way across the landscape, was it not? I remember discussion of this some years ago, perhaps when the project was first initiated, and the super-goat metaphor seemed apt then as well.

                I don't particularly disagree but then I like goats. :-)

                One could imagine all manner of devastation possible with an autonomous robot eating biomass.  

                People are biomass, for instance.

                My particular interest remains in the utilization of waste biomass as well as other baseload green energy for power generation.  

                Waste wood is being shipped to Europe and Asia for generating power while we burn coal and fight conversion to biomass fuel.  Doesn't seem right somehow.

                Best,  Terry

        •  Astroturf (0+ / 0-)

          I'm just wondering what this diary is doing here. Is it astroturf for a company involved with EATR? Daily Kos would seem an odd venue for that.

          My nefarious scheme that you cleverly uncovered involves telling innocents that there are numerous forms of clean energy outside the wind and solar catechism of the true believers.

          Drat.

          The internet is another of the military's diabolical schemes that has obviously bent kossacks.

          Best,  Terry

          •  What makes this "clean energy"? (0+ / 0-)

            It uses an internal combustion engine and the page you linked to says nothing about clean energy at all, not even in the suggested civilian applications at the bottom?

            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

            by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:06:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Cleanliness (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kalmoth

              It uses an internal combustion engine

              External combusion engine.

              It uses an internal combustion engine and the page you linked to says nothing about clean energy at all

              I don't particularly care what the promoters say frankly.

              The simple answer as to what makes this green in my view is that fossil fuels are not needed.  No additional CO2 need be introduced to the atmosphere.  

              The carbon in waste biomass is rather recycled though one can argue it is done before its time.  A fuel like landfill gas is better burned even if flared off.  Better is that much of the methane would not be created in the first place.

              Waste heat as fuel is not green?  What then is?

              Best,  Terry

  •  Waste heat (0+ / 0-)

    The first order was for an engine utilizing waste heat.  None of its engines have yet been delivered.  In the nature of things none may ever be delivered.

    Indeed, by the very nature of "waste heat", you can't do work with it.  Carnot's Law dictates that the maximum amount of energy from heat that can be turned into work is relative to the difference in temperature between the hot reservoir.  The percent gets smaller and smaller the lower the difference is, and eventually it becomes impractical to try and wring any more out of it.  That's when it becomes known as waste heat.

    •  So Numerous Waste Heat Installations Are Breaking (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth

      the Second Law of Thermodynamics you think?

      Should these lawbreakers be arrested?

      Cajun Converter, Don’t Ya Know

      A system developed by ORMAT Technologies in Nevada uses waste heat from turbines driving compressors to generate electricity at a natural gas plant in the Bayou State

      See here.

      Cajuns are notorious lawbreakers as everyone knows but there are plenty of others breaking your laws.

      Best,  Terry

      •  That's simply a case of (0+ / 0-)

        them deciding that the line for "impractical" is a little bit further down the line than they were at.  Note that it was a controversial decision whether to install the engine because of the price versus the amount of power output.  

        The ORMAT Converter is just a Rankine cycle engine.  It's still quite subject to Carnot's Law.  The lower the difference in heat between temperature wells, the lower the percentage of energy you can capture in the process of moving heat from one well to another.  I.e., you have to move a very large amount of waste heat through the plant to get a very small amount of power.  For example, with an inlet temperature of 300C and an outlet temperature of 120C, an Ormat Converter is only 12.1% efficient.  That's right -- 300C, and only 12.1% efficient.  Anything that we'd call waste heat in our normal lives is just way too low energy to be useful for anything other than heating.

        •  Another Lawbreaker and An Apostate To Boot (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kalmoth

          Waste Heat Could Provide A Greener Way To Power Cars

          Posted on: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 14:15 CST
          Cardiff University researchers are exploring how waste heat from car exhausts could provide a new greener power supply for vehicles.

          -

          Professor Mike Rowe, OBE School of Engineering said: "The main interest in cars is to decrease the petrol consumption and reduce CO2 emissions. If you can utilise the exhaust heat you could replace the alternator. This would provide a 5 per cent saving in fuel straightaway."

          Vehicle manufacturers in the United States are already investing in exploring this technology, however Professor Rowe has found the UK’s interest in the technology to be slower.

          He said: "Thermoelectric generation is a green solution. It can in many instances cost less than solar energy. It has huge future potential yet it has been neglected to date in the UK."

          See here.

          I tell you the world is infested with these blackguards.

          At least the UK, like America, is resisting waste heat recovery in favor of fossil fuels, though probably not nearly as well as Americans are.

          Best,  Terry

          •  Again, Carnot rears his ugly head. (0+ / 0-)

            As I mentioned, it's a case of diminishing returns due to Carnot's Law.  They're trying to replace an alternator.  Alternators consume 1-2 horsepower worth of energy.  Your average car has about 150 horsepower.  So, they're trying to use the waste heat from 150 horsepower's worth of combustion to replace a 1-2 horsepower consumption.  Incredibly low efficiency, incredibly marginal gain.  And they're not even there yet.

            There's always some energy that can potentially be recovered if there's a difference in temperature wells.  But, as I've pointed out from the beginning, it's case of diminishing returns.

    •  oh... thanks for telling me... (0+ / 0-)

      that a little turbine we've run on waste heat from the electric chillers in our basement since 1980 is thermodynamically impossible.

      •  to summarize... (0+ / 0-)

        a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

      •  Different definition of waste heat (0+ / 0-)

        You might as well call volcanoes waste heat, the sun waste heat, or anything else that's heat which is not being used.  We're talking about power plant waste heat, which has a very specific definition (heat that is of low enough energy content that it's no longer practical to extract energy from due to the increasingly low efficiency of doing so, thanks to Carnot's law).

        I assume you're talking about compressor motor waste heat and not compressor exhaust heat (heat pumped from the cold reservoir to the hot reservoir).  Otherwise, you're just wasting energy by adding load to the compressor.

        •  dude... here's a link... (0+ / 0-)

          link

          It's old technology, and it's common use terminology.

          •  Carnot's Law still applies. (0+ / 0-)

            The amount of the combination of energy produced by the turbine and work done by the chiller is still hard-limited by Carnot's Law.  I missed before that you were talking about absorption chillers, but they're still subject to it as well.  The lower the difference in temperature, the lower the amount of work that can be done from it.  Period.  

            And don't be confused by COPs.  A COP of 0.7 may sound like you're recovering energy at a 70% rate, but you're not.  Compressor-based coolers can get COPs of 3-4 or so.  And note what happens when you raise the temperature difference in a chiller?  From your link:

            "Double-effect units add another boiling and condensing step at higher temperature, thus attaining higher COPs of about 1.1"

            Once again, it comes down to the same thing: the smaller the difference in temperature, the harder it becomes to extract useful work from it, leading to a case of diminishing returns.  Where the line gets drawn on what's worth the hardware cost to try to capture an increasingly tiny percentage of available energy is always up for debate, but with a given line, waste heat is waste.

            Thermodynamics: It's The Law.

            •  ((Just off the record... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              terryhallinan

              You are trying to imprint some basics of Thermodynamics I on someone who has taught it since 1994 or so, so you are not exactly enlightening me, sorry, and could probably find some better uses of your time. Thanks for trying though.))

              I would also encourage you to educate yourself on energy recovery from low-grade heat. There are several very nice techniques here allowing one to bring the overall system efficiency closer to the thermodynamic limit without a major expense.  

              •  Just on the record, (0+ / 0-)

                Just off the record does not mean what you seem to think it does.

                •  ((everything in double round brackets... (0+ / 0-)

                  is off the record and out of character - just ask your local MMORPG guru))

                  Dude... you should also consider, like, not taking things (and yourself) so seriously?

                  •  Another Lawbreaker - A Giant One (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kalmoth

                    Japan's Komatsu to Ship Heat-to-Electricity Modules

                    By Michael Kanellos

                    Got heat? Komatsu (KMTUY.PK) will give you power.

                    The Japanese industrial giant will begin to take orders for a new, highly-efficient thermoelectric module that it says will take the heat from the inside of factories and under the hood of diesel vehicles and turn it into power...

                    -

                    Waste heat isn't the most glamorous segment in greentech, but it's got promise, according to advocates. In the U.S., approximately 55 percent to 60 percent of the energy produced gets dissipated as waste heat, according to U.C. Berkeley.

                    -

                    Some companies, such as Recycled Energy Development (RED) in Illinois, China Energy Recovery and Ormat (ORA) in Israel exploit waste heat by trapping it, pressurizing it, and then using it to turn a turbine or heat water. In West Virginia,

                    -

                    Komatsu and others, however, are trying to move beyond these more traditional and time-tested techniques to use semiconductors to trap and convert heat...

                    See here.

                    I am so old that I can remember long years of struggle to get economical power out of the organic rankine cycle engine.

                    There was no shortage of experts who knew it would never work.

                    Best,  Terry

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