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Recirculating Ball Central Heating

Water has had a good run
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People have been moving heat around with water for ages, and for good reason, it's plentiful and has a great specific heat capacity in a convenient temperature range. It is however, nasty when it inevitably leaks out of some tiny pinhole, somewhat corrosive and prone to destroy the pipework in a freezing situation.

So, as an alternative, how about a load of balls? Steel is about 1/8th the specific heat capacity of water, but it's about 8x denser, so it's essentially the same. Steel ball bearings are tough, relatively cheap and totally frost proof. A leak would need to be pretty serious to let even one ball pop out unexpectedly. The pump would have to be slightly modified and the corners would need careful radius control. On the plus side, instead of the dowdy boring near-silent sound of water moving around in pipes and radiators* the comforting and relaxing sound of thousands of hot ball bearings clanking around would fill the whole house.

The radiators could be designed as minimal wire frames to allow much better surface area for desirable ventilation of the hot balls, and bingo enthusiasts could invest in the numbered ball upgrade package.

*air water heater heat exchanges, radiation is a very minor component here.

bs0u0155, Jan 22 2018

Sherlock Homes and the ... https://drive.googl...-AYkDWoeQgtH_tqU47T
[not_morrison_rm, Jan 23 2018]

How about big ass chains? https://12hb401d0fh...012/07/P1030318.jpg
[doctorremulac3, Jan 23 2018]

[link]






       75mm steel spheres. Heat them in a tank of oil, have them roll down pipes and trackways onto cooling racks; bimetallic mechanisms keep them captive until they cool enough, then drop onto the return channels to a central hoist (archimedian screw ?) which raises them back to the oil tank.   

       Very Steampunk, very Heath Robinson. Very good. [+]   

       Extra points if the lifting mechanism is driven by a Stirling engine with lots of polished brass and mahogany, and a centrifugal governor on top.
8th of 7, Jan 22 2018
  

       Sounds noisy....
Vernon, Jan 23 2018
  

       ... but also entertaining, and great for cracking walnuts.
8th of 7, Jan 23 2018
  

       Balls don’t tesselate. It’d be far better to use cube shapes, such as bricks. You’d fit more of them together.
Ian Tindale, Jan 23 2018
  

       //how about a load of balls?   

       <Austrian accent> "Zer subconcious mind is zer complete bugger"</AA>   

       Err, this does look a wee bit similar to zer....dammit the keyboard's gone all Ostreich on me ...   

       ah that's better...   

       to the one in "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Etheric Engineers" ( c link) on page 14 (?) about halfway down..
not_morrison_rm, Jan 23 2018
  

       The noise could be significantly reduced by having the balls circulate in a double-walled pipe, with vacuum between the inner and outer layers.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 23 2018
  

       If the balls were replaced by bells — entirely spherical ones — the noise could be significantly increased.
Ian Tindale, Jan 23 2018
  

       It would make sense for the balls to circulate downwards through the house, dispersing heat as they go. To get from the ground floor to the top floor, they should be flung on a parabola through the house (which has strategically placed holes in the floors) with the vertex of the parabola being a collection pipe on the top floor. The entertainment value of seeing heavy steel balls being shot upwards through the house every few seconds would make this idea worthwhile.
hippo, Jan 23 2018
  

       //heavy steel balls being shot upwards   

       ...with sufficient dexterity, a magnetic post-it note with "Was that with 2 sugars?" might be slapped onto the ball going up, and get a reply from the upper floors.   

       Additionally, a small array of pieces of steel (of varying lengths) could be struck by the spheres, playing "God Save the Queen" at appropriate moments.
not_morrison_rm, Jan 23 2018
  

       // heavy steel balls being shot upwards through the house //   

       Air cannon.   

       // balls were replaced by bells //   

       Solid balls, tuned resonant guide pipes - tubular bells ...
8th of 7, Jan 23 2018
  

       Some animals have a dramatic drop in body temperature when they hibernate, presumably losing heat to their surroundings, so I wonder if you could do central heating with an animal - say, hamsters - engineered to have a very rapid hibernation cycle, crawling around the house in ducts...
hippo, Jan 23 2018
  

       Conveniently you could use the hvac ducting as the major support structure for the house, as it would need that sort of structure.   

       Alternatively, liquid mercury isn’t terribly corrosive, and could be pumped.
RayfordSteele, Jan 23 2018
  

       //to the one in "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Etheric Engineers" ( c link) on page 14 (?) about halfway down..//   

       huh? I'm confused, so I checked the pages either side of 14 and found "export-sized drum of Rentisham's Flenting wax" half way down p15. "Rentisham's" and "export" are not words you want to casually throw about the place. Much like any large container of the aforementioned product. There's a rumour that the concept of "critical mass" moved very much into the realm of reality when Los Alamos technicians improperly stored some of the rare wax exported following certain wartime agreements.   

       //The noise could be significantly reduced by having the balls circulate in a double-walled pipe, with vacuum between the inner and outer layers.//   

       double-walled tubing is easy enough, double walled tubing with vacuum between gets very tough with all the entrances/exits and custom bends that are required for this installation. To achieve the exact same effect, simply remove the balls from the system.   

       ///To get from the ground floor to the top floor, they should be flung on a parabola through the house (which has strategically placed holes in the floors)//   

       If you don't have pre-positioned holes, simply buy the more powerful pump from the range of options at the back of the catalogue. A powerful pump allows you to heat almost anything nearby, a garage, shed, cat or greenhouse for example. It's possible that the unfortunate situation at Mers el Kebir was a misunderstood attempt at experimental projected heating.   

       //Some animals have a dramatic drop in body temperature when they hibernate, presumably losing heat to their surroundings,//   

       They're always losing heat to their surroundings, dropping their body temperature is one of the ways they lose less of it, it's all in the delta t. Then they turn on a bunch of mitochondrial uncoupling proteins which preferentially burns fat and spares metabolites while not interfering with all the other signalling systems.   

       //Alternatively, liquid mercury isn’t terribly corrosive, and could be pumped.//   

       Sadly mercury is poor as a thermal transfer medium owing to it's low specific heat capacity. Where it does shine* is in density. A modest industrial heating system might have 3000 litres of water in circulation. Replace that with mercury and get it going nice and fast, then ask a disposable colleague to quickly shut a valve. The inertia would be equivalent to the crash of a medium military vehicle.   

       *apart from in pretty pools under the leaky radiator in the nursery
bs0u0155, Jan 23 2018
  

       //the comforting and relaxing sound of thousands of hot ball bearings clanking around//   

       I didn't realize that nostalgia for the Morris Marina still ran so deeply in Britain.
RayfordSteele, Jan 23 2018
  

       Are you sure metal is the thing to use? It readily sheds any and all heat it might have, then there’s nothing. What you probably want is something that has a bit more heat- retentionising capability (or skill). Asbestos balls would do the job, or very small granular balls, about atom size, or molecule size, or bacteria size. A fluid made of millions of bacteria of asbestos would hang on to the heat and not get stuck round corners.
Ian Tindale, Jan 23 2018
  

       Clever.   

       Chains might make less noise. Eliminate noisy pipes and balls altogether. Have the chains slowly turn on a well oiled series of sprocket equipped wheels in a loop between the heater and the room to be heated. Big ass 50 pound chain links slowly moving from one side of the room to another along a track at say, 4 foot off the floor.   

       Relaxing to watch. Nice, warm 50 pound chain links, slowly moving along the wall.
doctorremulac3, Jan 23 2018
  

       Also useful to bury those ghastly ghost noises when you go to sell.
RayfordSteele, Jan 23 2018
  

       There's this video game I used to play back when I played video games called "Silent Hill".   

       The chain thing would fit very nicely in one of those scenes.
doctorremulac3, Jan 23 2018
  

       Six inch brass balls would be good. They could be borrowed from the rack as a hot water bottle.
bigsleep, Jan 24 2018
  

       I'd like some mechanism whereby hot metal balls circulate round the house, rolling on two rails which are carefully spaced apart such that, as the balls cool and contract, they will fall through the space between the rails and return to the basement furnace for reheating.
hippo, Jan 24 2018
  

       //for the balls to circulate downwards through the house, dispersing heat as they go// Surely better to let the hot balls rise under theur own convecyion?
pocmloc, Jan 25 2018
  

       I find that balls tend to sink when too hot...
RayfordSteele, Jan 29 2018
  
      
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