Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Gatling Generator

Dispose of surplus ammunition while providing electric power to remote areas.
  (+13, -4)(+13, -4)
(+13, -4)
  [vote for,

There are lots of places in the world where electricity is scarce but guns and ammunition are woefully plentiful. In the true spirit of swords to ploughshares, I offer... the Gatling Generator!

Ammunition is poured into a hopper on top of the device. Any particular generator takes just one caliber. Most come in 7.62x39mm which is plentiful anywhere there have ever been Soviets, although there is a model specifically for the US urban market that comes in 9mm pistol.

The device appears to be a gatling gun type machine gun, with several barrels arranged in a circle: however there is a key difference. Cartriges drop from the hopper into a chamber that holds the bullet end and the casing simultaneously. When the firing pin is struck the bullet drives a piston instead of shooting out a barrel. Thus, the energy of the gunpowder is translated mostly into mechanical work instead of the kinetic energy of the flying bullet.

Just like a regular gatling gun, the barrels rotate - but the extra energy imparted to the rotation is enough to drive an alternator for electric power! Spent bullets and casings fill removable bins in the bottom, ready for recycling.

A perfect fit for, say, Iraq where the market is flooded with ammunition but the lights are on in the shops only a few hours a day.

Some quick calculations: a 7.62x39mm round fired from an AK-47 has a kinetic energy of about 1500 ft*lb. Assume a firing rate of 10 rounds per second or 600 rpm, giving 1500 * 600 = 900,000 ft*lb/min. Let's say the net efficiency of the device is 50%: then we have 450,000 ft*lb/min or 450000/33000 = 13.6 horsepower = about 10 kW of electrical generation

10 kW is certainly enough to run 2-3 modest shops and homes... provided of course one can find the 36,000 cartriges per hour necessary to run the machine. It might be necessary to charge batteries and run off of them, but of course then there is a 50% penalty for charging and discharging losses.

strange606, Jul 11 2006

After a plane crash in the Sahara, one of the survivors says he's an airplane designer and they can make a flyable plane from the wreckage http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059183/
[normzone, Jul 11 2006]


       If the barrels are water cooled you could put the hot water to use as well. They would certainly get hot.   

       However, I think the energy that goes into the making of bullets isn't regained by this device. I say just use the gatling and the bullets to capture an oil producing country. That would be more productive.
MoreCowbell, Jul 11 2006

       //just use the gatling and the bullets to capture an oil producing country. That would be more productive//
Pragmatism, we salute you!
methinksnot, Jul 11 2006

       Certainly, the energy going into the bullets is not regained - not by a very very long shot. The alleged usefulness is that they are available. Every thug in Iraq must have a thousand.
strange606, Jul 11 2006

       So, if every thug in Iraq has a thousand then it would take 36 thugs per hour to run the three shops, or one thug every five minutes per shop. Assuming an average working day of 6 hours (lazy these Iraquis), we would have to enlist some 216 thugs every day or just over a thousand per week. What do you think we must sell in these shops to justify the investment? Guns?   

       On the other hand, if we use larger caliber rounds or, even better, explosives we could improve the economics of this scheme.
methinksnot, Jul 11 2006

       A [+] vote for an amusing idea that actually could work.   

       What was that movie with Jimmy Stewart and an odd cast stranded in the desert, tryin to start an airplane that had skids, not wheels, by using some kind of shotgun shell igniter? I've only ever seen the end (off to search).   

       "Damn, the neighbor is running their generator again".   

       Ok, now I'm going to have to see the whole movie, it sounds like a bunch of Halfbakers building a plane [link].
normzone, Jul 11 2006

       [methinksnot] - Yes, it could certainly use artillery shells: I think that device would look more like a reciprocating engine spitting out big brass casings. Very cool - carrying around and delivering the "fuel" might be a problem though.   

       My vision for the Gatling is that they just stop off at the nearest weapons cache, load up a wheelbarrow full of rifle ammunition, and pay a kid a dollar a day to keep dumping cartriges into the hopper.
strange606, Jul 11 2006

       I wonder how much energy can be produced by burning the insurgents themselves...
MoreCowbell, Jul 11 2006

       [+] for anything that uses weapons for something other than killing.
James Newton, Jul 11 2006

       I could envisage something like a reverse coil gun, that captures the kinetic energy of the bullets as well, and converts it directly into current.
BunsenHoneydew, Jul 15 2006

       9mms in US Urban settings... GHH... Someone must educate these thugs on maximum range of stray bullets and overpenetration.
ye_river_xiv, Jun 16 2008

       "We don't need gun control, we need bullet control. If every bullet cost $60 there'd be a lot less innocent bystanders" - Chris Rock   

simonj, Jun 16 2008

       //If every bullet cost $60 there'd be a lot less innocent bystanders//
There'd be more, shirley.
There'd be less [sic] /dead/ innocent bystanders, hopefully.
coprocephalous, Jun 16 2008

       [coprocephalous] Yes I believe that was the thrust of his argument. However when is there ever an innocent bystander without an "incident" to innocently stand by?
simonj, Jun 16 2008

       There's one over there right now, but no-one noticed.
pertinax, Jun 16 2008

       [normzone], the movie is called 'Flight of the Pheonix' (1965, 20th Century Fox). I can't remember what they call it in the movie (somebody's name, presumably the inventor), but those types of devices are generally referred to as percussive starters or percussive ignitions (even though the actual "ignition" comes from magnetos or spark plugs). They use what is the equivalent of a 6-guage shotgun shell with no pellets, only powder.   

       A much more effecient motor for driving a generator could be made to burn just the powder from ammunition.
Alterother, Jun 16 2008

       Or how about one that just runs on match-heads?
simonj, Jun 16 2008

       // Most come in 7.62x39mm which is plentiful anywhere there have ever been Soviets, although there is a model specifically for the US urban market that comes in 9mm pistol.//
Am I the only one to notice the Soviet rounds are soft metric 0.303 inch rounds, but the US ones are hard metric?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 22 2012

Alterother, May 23 2012

       What's a "hard metric"? What's a "soft metric"? What's a "Soviet"?
AusCan531, May 23 2012

       Soft metric= x.xx mm   

       Hard metric= x mm   

       It's because the Russians were actually late to the metric game, preffering instead to use the caliber system common in the US. On the other hand, NATO, a largely European organization no matter what certain member nations may prefer to believe, needed a universal standard of measure which all cooperating military forces could use to avoid confusion, and by a rare convergence of consensus and common sense (an event possibly unique in the annals of military history), settled on the metric system. Thus the round fired by the ubiquitous Russian AK-47 (as well as a panopoly of NATO weapons, the logic being that if the Cold War ever went hot that there'd be an awful lot of it laying around on the battlefield so we might as well equip our guys with guns that can use it), which to the Reds was known for some time as the .303, became known in the west as the 7.62mm NATO, aka 7.62x39. Then along came Eugene Stoner and his cronies, who had cooked up a remarkable new kind of assault rifle that eventually came to be known as the M-16, and a nasty little bullet to fire out of it that was of .223 caliber. It was such a success, for a particularly horrifying reason, that other NATO countries decided to make their own weapons chambered for the .223, and we subsequently had to start calling it the 5.56mm NATO. So, you see, it wasn't really the Soviets using the 'soft' metrics, it was the rest of us.   

       The Germans, on the other hand, being just as sensibly German as they possibly could be, had for many years previous to this decided that the best thing to do was use nice, simple, easy-to-remember chamberings such as 8mm, 9mm, 20mm, etc. The 9mm, for fairly piss-poor reasons, has subsequently become one of the most popular handgun calibers in the world. Since every American citizen over the age of four owns a handgun, which we all use to indiscriminately shoot at each other on a daily basis, the 9mm calibers have become innapropriately associated with the USA. But it wasn't really the US using 'hard' metrics, it was zee Germanz.   

       It's all really very simple.
Alterother, May 23 2012

       //It was such a success, for a particularly horrifying reason//
I thought the "horrifying reason" was simply that the rounds were smaller, and therefore lighter, so you could carry more of them, and the only thing more important than carrying more of them is that you can then off-load more of them in the general direction of the Other Guys.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 23 2012

       Their compact size is a distinct benefit, but the _really_ horrifying thing about the .223/5.56 is that it is smaller, lighter, and balanced so that it begins to tumble as soon as it touches something, causing grievous but less-frequently- lethal wounds. It is designed to maim, not to kill.   

       In war, if you kill a man, he's dead, written off, the only further expense incurred the cost of a letter to his next of kin, but if you wound him, he is a terrific drain on your enemy's resources as he languishes in a military hospital, consuming food, medicine, and manpower without return on the investment made in him until he is well enough to fight again. This is the sort of reason accountants become colonels and warriors stay sergeants.   

       Of course, this plan back fired on us to some extent; we introduced the 5.56 NATO just as we plunged headlong into Vietnam, where we fought the Viet Cong, an enemy whom for the most part were not concerned with looking after their wounded. We fought them, for the most part, in very thick jungles, where bigger, heavier bullets are far more effective, because the tiny, barely- stabile 5.56 goes into its tumble as soon as it touches _anything_, be it a human body or just a twig. There are accounts of grunts emptying 30-round magazines in small, aimed bursts, at fixed and visible enemy positions, and not hitting a damn thing because the acrobatic bullets they fired ricocheted off of the _foliage_. Small wonder that a single enemy casualty required, on average, the expenditure of 20,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition during that conflict (although this was also due to the widespread use of automatic weapons mounted on aircraft to provide covering fire for troops on the ground).
Alterother, May 23 2012

       Why would I want a generator that gatles?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2012

       Because it's better than one that gubles.
Alterother, May 23 2012

       <wanders into idea>   

       <reads idea and annotations>   

       . . .   

       <launches openoffice word processor and presentation manager>   

       <launches web browser and orders extra supplies of whiteboard pens, chalk and flipchart paper>   

       <considers audience>   

       . . .   

       <decides to Sod This For a Game Of Soldiers and heads for Pub>   

       <wanders out>
8th of 7, May 23 2012

       Wait, don't go! Please, O Wise and Wonderful Borg, enlighten us with your collective wisdom! We are but poor and ignorant sinners who yearn for nothing but to know the error of our ways!
Alterother, May 23 2012

       Don't say you weren't bloody warned ...   

       <placeholder for interminable and incredibly detailed dissertation on the development of Terran man-portable military projectile weapons since 1865 CE>   

       Excuse us for a moment. UPS is here with the second consignment of chalk, whiteboard pens, flipcharts and ringbinders.
8th of 7, May 23 2012

       // Why would I want a generator that gatles?//
Is there also a generator made from a fully grown gat?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 23 2012


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