View Full Version : Home energy production question.
08-30-2003, 11:07 AM
My rather smart uncle brought to me the following question.
Would it be cheaper to get your household electricity from a generator powered by a gas turbine engine fueled off the normal gas lines that come into your house and use the exhaust heat for heating the water instead of having a seperate water heater. He brought up the fact that power lines lose a bit of energy through magnetic fields around the wire and plain old copper resistance so he thinks his idea might be more efficient. Do any of my fellow dopers know?
08-31-2003, 06:50 PM
No responses at all?
08-31-2003, 07:58 PM
Maybe. But using a Stirling reciprocating engine rather than a gas turbine: Home-made answer to generating electricity harks back to the past (http://www.guardian.co.uk/renewable/Story/0,2763,363461,00.html)
Fuel cells (http://www.jarn.co.jp/News/2003_Q3/30704_Matsushita_Develops.htm) are another possibility.
What your uncle is proposing is nothing new. But, it involves a lot of maintenance work. First, the diesel generator itself will need routine maintenance. Second, for heating, your uncle is describing what is called a closed loop system. The piping of this system needs routine maintanence, too...such as an occasional purging the lines to prevent scaling (erosion) and such. Some heat pump systems use loops which run deep into the ground to collect additional heat, but the maintenance is expensive!
(And, what if your generator is producing more heat than your hot water system can use? What happens then? Well, better make sure it can be air cooled as well, or you'll need a cooling loop with a small cooling tower, or a long pipe with fins, or such...)
So, when you pay for electricity...think about the routine maintenance they're doing for you...and all the headache they're saving you. If you want to save money, research the use of solar cells and if you can possibly sell electricity back to the local power company by connecting to the power grid - it's a small form of cogeneration of electricity.
Just some food for thought...
08-31-2003, 08:47 PM
There are readily available natural gas turbines to do this although you would have to rig up the hot water heater section. They have built in heat recovery so the exhaust isn't all that hot. Search the internet for "natural gas microturbine".
The scale is such that it would require several houses or a business to actually afford the initial cost.
It was cost effective in areas with very high electricity cost a few years ago when natural gas was very cheap. Today, they won't really pay for themselves because gas is too expensive.
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