Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Expensive, difficult, slightly dangerous, not particularly effective... I'm on a roll.

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Domestic Flywheel

Use a flywheel to accumulate microamperage from ambient sources
  [vote for,

Ambient light can be converted to currents through existing (baked) panels but don't provide the energy density needed to independently power a whole house. Ambient sound, depending on where you are, could add to these currents in some small degree, using piezo-electric. Ambient wind power might add significantly depending on locale. Point is, all these dispersed sources of small amounts of power could be used to provide tiny magnetic pulse which exerted additive force against a flywheel, timed relative to the immediate speed of rotation. The pulses would activate small electromagnets embedded under the flywheel and acting against counter-charged permanent magnets in the surface. Manny a mickle macks a muckle, or something like that.
Amos, Sep 29 2003

Beacon Flywheel - 6kWh http://www.beaconpo...martEnergy25kWh.htm
Enough power for a house. Enclosed in vaccuum. [Laughs Last, Oct 04 2004, last modified Jun 30 2006]

Re-Energizer http://www.wired.co...1&topic=&topic_set=
Excellent flywheel article from "Wired", May 2000 [BunsenHoneydew, Oct 04 2004]


       Why? Seems power consumed overcoming friction in the flywheel would dwarf all of the energy sources listed.
Worldgineer, Sep 29 2003

       Could you hook up the exercise bike to get things started each morning?
MikeHolio, Sep 29 2003

       I had the same thought, only different energy sources. As luck would have it, my cousin did his master's in mechanical engineering thesis on bearing technology. He says it is totally possible, but the expense of a siutable bearing is so high, you won't recoup it in energy savings for the life of the bearing, which is low, and requires high maintenance expense, even further reducing the possibility for recouping expenses with energy savings. Even a very slight amount wear will reduce the performance enough to be ineffective, according to him.
oxen crossing, Sep 29 2003

       What if you scrapped the flywheel and used a capacitor instead?
RayfordSteele, Sep 29 2003

       What if you scrapped the capacitor and bought some batteries?
DrCurry, Sep 29 2003

       [OC]: Would it be possible to use some sort of passive magnetic bearing? Would that be more expensive than high quality conventional bearings?
TIB, Sep 29 2003

       We didn't discuss that, but I see that it is, according to LL's link. But I still don't know how good this would be for trickle charging, or human charging, and how long it would maintain charge without power input. The flywheel in the link is constantly charged by AC power, and the energy used as soon as the main power is cut. I was interested in long-term energy storage, like for many days with no power input without too much energy loss.
oxen crossing, Sep 29 2003

              There are myriad sources of energy on a microscale around any building -- thermals, winds, light, and sound. Anyway, the flow of microamp currents would be almost constant. So that wheel is being nipped with a large number of tiny accelerations, which account against the inertial resistance or frictional resistance of the bearing and the very intermittent loads imposed by use of current. I haven't calculated the balance sheet.      

              Flywheels vice batteries or caps is a comparison I haven't looked into in detail. LL's link offers some benefits to the flywheel.
Amos, Sep 29 2003

       When I looked into "Beacon" 3 or so years ago, I found that their old 2kWh unit had a rate of internal loss of about 40 Watts. That unit used an all-steel flywheel, if I recall. The new 6kWh uses a composite material flywheel, and I think they are rotating it faster than the old steel one. They don’t seem to be advertising the efficiency of the newer units, but they do have a toll free telephone number.
Laughs Last, Sep 29 2003

       // some sort of passive magnetic bearing //   

       Don't fall into the trap of thinking that just because they're (almost) free from mechanical friction, that they're a lot better. With things like flux leakage and eddy currents, they can still present formidable problems. Hopefully this will either be corrected or elaborated, cause I don't know much about it really.   

       I agree with [Worldgineer]. :)
Detly, Sep 29 2003

       Why bearings at all? Build it as a spinning top, with the tops base and the cradle made from extremely heat resistant materials then use the heat produced to power a Sterling engine.   

       [2fries] The point where the top balances is a bearing. Anytime you have surfaces moving at two different velocities touching, you have a bearing.
Galbinus_Caeli, Feb 16 2006

       Aha, my something new for the day is early. :]   


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