Charting the efficiencies of boiling water

Water takes a lot of energy to heat up. If you’d like evidence of this, simply jump into a 50° F swimming pool on Memorial Day. Despite the difficulty of heating water, that simple act accounts for a lot of industrial processes. From cooking a steak to running a nuclear reactor, there isn’t much that doesn’t involve heating water.

[Tom Murphy], Physics prof at UCSD decided to test out exactly how efficiently he could boil water. Armed with a gas stove, electric kettle, microwave, and a neat laser pointer/photodiode setup on his gas meter to measure consumption, he calculated exactly how much energy he was using to make a cup of tea.

The final numbers from [Tom]‘s experiment revealed that a gas stove – using a pot with and without a lid on large and small burners – was about 20% efficient. A gas-powered hot water heater was much better at 55% efficiency, but the microwave and electric kettle had a miserable efficiencies of around 15 and 25%, respectively. There is a reason for the terrible inefficiency of using electricity to heat water; if only the power from the wall is considered, the electric kettle put 80% of energy consumed directly into the water. Because the electricity has to come from somewhere, usually a fossil-fueled power plant that operates at around 30% efficiency, the electric kettle method of turning dinosaurs into hot water is only about 25% efficient.

The take-home from this is there’s a lot of power being wasted every time you run a bath, make some coffee, or wash the dishes. We would all do better by decreasing how much energy we use, much like [Tom]‘s efforts in using 5 times less power than his neighbor. Awesome job, [Tom].

Floating sensor networks

These cool looking little bots are part of a fleet of floating water sensors built by The Lagrangian Sensor Systems Laboratory (LSSL) at UC Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL) and the California Department of Water Resources.

In an emergency such as a levee break, flood, or spill, they can be deployed to gather information in a way that is completely impossible with stationary sensors. These 17″ tall bots can steer with the help of their twin props and communicate water quality information back to the base via cellular communication and short wave radio. They describe the resulting data as being like a “google traffic map” showing speed, depth, and contamination of the water.

There’s a ton of detail on their site, including breakdowns of how the software and hardware are put together. There’s even a bit of the evolution of the hardware showing the abandoned previous models.

Automatic Water for Your Pets

If you have livestock or outdoor pets you know how important it is to keep them watered, but also know that sometimes you are not around when the trough runs dry. [Buddy] solves this inconvenience with a trip to the hardware store and some creativity.

The automatic water filler is made from some PVC pipe, brass fittings, a faucet supply and a toilet float valve. The PVC is arranged into a hook shape, a fitting is put on one end for a standard garden hose. On the other end a bit of adapting is needed to convert the PVC into a faucet supply, where the toilet valve is hooked up. Now whenever your thirsty beasts get the water too low, the float lowers and tops off the watering hole with fresh H20. That sure beats running out there every day to make sure, especially with summer just around the bend.

The Water Calligraphy Tricycle

Many westerners visiting or living in China may observe the art of “water calligraphy” and some may even try to imitate it. However, media artist [Nicholas Hanna] decided to take a totally new approach and make his own water painting machine.

Someone less creative would have devised some imitation of a human, but [Nicholas] decided to totally rethink the process in the form of a tricycle.  Using 16 PC-controlled water solenoids, this tricycle is turned into a sort of moving dot matrix printer. It doesn’t have the same sort of grace that the traditional Chinese art does, but it’s quite a bit faster, so if you want to get your message out, this might have some practical applications.

The post doesn’t go into the electronics, but the video after the break includes some close-ups and video of [Nicholas] assembling the device. If you happen to be in china, his tricycle is part of an event for “Beijing Design Week” at the Northern Electric Relay Factory until October 3rd.

[Read more...]

Machine precisely, methodically arranges water droplets

pe_lang_art_installation

While some projects we feature are meant to perform a useful function or make life easier, others such as this art installation by [Pe Lang] are far less functional, but amazing nonetheless.

Taking a cue from CNC-style machines, his creation is an experiment in falling objects and the properties of water. The machine methodically moves along a small 370 x 330 mm plate that is constructed out of a special omniphobic material. A syringe full of water travels along with the machine’s arm, depositing a single 3.3 mm wide drop of water on the board every few seconds as it moves along. Due to the surface tension of the water, each droplet forms a near perfect sphere on the plate without disturbing any of its neighbors.

Once the machine is finished, it leaves the matrix of water droplets to evaporate, after which the machine starts its careful process once again. It really is amazing, regardless of the fact that it doesn’t exactly “do anything”.

Be sure to check out the video below to see the exhibit in action.

[via Make]

[Read more...]

Hackaday Links: March 20, 2011

SNES Arcade Cabinet

arcade_cabinet

[Daniel] let us know that he finished up a SNES arcade cabinet he has been working on for awhile. It looks so good, he says that his wife has even agreed to let him keep it in the house!

DIY Overhead projector beamer

diy_beamer

[Liquider] sent us some information about a DIY beamer he built using an overhead projector and an old LCD panel. It looks like a great way to get a big-screen wall display set up in no time.

WordClock gets a makeover

wordclock

[Doug] wrote in to share with us some progress he has made on his WordClock. You might remember our coverage of this creative timepiece a little while back. This time around, he has built a new control board, and is using vinyl stencils for a much cleaner look.

Interactive water fountain

interactive_fountain

[Gerry Chu] is well known for his water-based imagery and projects. His most recent project is a water fountain that interacts with passers by. There are no real build details as of yet, but we hope to see some soon.

Sixty Symbols explains why glass is transparent

glass

Do you think you know why glass is transparent, but a brick is not? If you looked it up via Google, you are likely mistaken. A professor from the University of Nottingham explains why the Internet is so, so wrong about this, as well as how energy gap determines if photons of light can make it through a piece of glass. [via i09]

Automatic dog dish filler never goes dry

automatic_water_dish

[Avatar-X] has a Siberian Husky that gets a lot of exercise throughout the day, and as you would imagine, drinks a ton of water as well. We all suffer from memory lapses at one time or another, and while he is normally good about keeping the bowl filled, he occasionally forgets. He has tried a handful of various auto-filling dog dishes, but none of them seemed to work all that well, and they often rapidly built up healthy bacterial colonies.

With the help of some friends, he rigged up an automatic water dish filler, that ensures his pup always has a sufficient supply of water. He tapped into his kitchen water supply with a standard refrigerator hookup kit, and ran some tubing up into his cabinets, where he placed a garden irrigation valve. The valve is controlled using an Arduino which senses the bowl’s water level using a pair of wires.

The system looks like it works pretty well if the video embedded below is any indicator. [Avatar-X] provides code and schematics for the water control circuit on his site, free to anyone looking to build a similar system for their pets.

If you are interested in learning more about automating some of your pet’s care, be sure to check out these hacks we featured in the past.

[Read more...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,532 other followers