h a l f b a k e r y
Experiencing technical difficulties since 1999

meta:

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.

 user: pass:
register,

# Tree root power

Get energy from tree roots or tree
 (+2, -4) [vote for, against]

NOTE! Following MaxBuchanan's calculations, this idea is proven non practicle - for lack of energy that can be received from tree roots.
-----------------------------------
Original idea:
Tree roots can pick up tons of earth and move large construction, so there probably could be a way of harnessing this energy.
 — pashute, Apr 01 2009

You probaly could have a bun, but perhaps not [-].
 — eight_nine_tortoise, Apr 01 2009

I wonder why you exclude bush roots and crop roots, which proportionately move comparable amounts of earth and small constructions. Everyone expects trees to work hard but weeds and grass get free rides! There should be an all-encompassing and catholic approach to root energy harnessing.
 — bungston, Apr 01 2009

 I'm guessing that a sizeable tree root can move a ton an inch (3cm) in a year. Say ten such roots per tree. Total energy yield for the year = mass x height x g = 10,000 x 0.03 x 10 = 3,000J, or a mean power output of about 0.1 milliwatts.

 Incidentally, this amount of energy can be released by burning about one gram of wood.

Or did you know this?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 01 2009

The threat of burning can be used to induce maximal energy from the roots.
 — bungston, Apr 01 2009

It might be easier to fit a harness to an ent, since if I recall they are less branchy than regular trees.
 — bungston, Apr 01 2009

 //there probably could be a way of harnessing this energy//

This is not an idea. An idea would be 'here is a way of harnessing this energy'.
 — Bad Jim, Apr 02 2009

thank you, Jim!
 — WcW, Apr 02 2009

With capillary action and a bit of solar photosynthetic cellulose conversion this concept may bear fruit.
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Apr 02 2009

Just plant them upside down?
 — daseva, Apr 02 2009

 I think roots pick up water but what do I know!

earthworms are probably the way to go... +1
 — po, Apr 02 2009

I was secretly hoping for an aphrodisiac
 — po, Apr 02 2009

//I was secretly hoping for an aphrodisiac//
[marked-for-tagline]
 — daseva, Apr 02 2009

hope I get a mention! that would be a 1st "po was hoping..."
 — po, Apr 02 2009

I doubt this would work, but i want to make a suggestion. Grow the trees hydroponically with the roots in a rigid container with a small piezoelectric plate somewhere. As the roots grow, the only place that can give is that plate, which generates electricity. I don't know how to avoid the same energy being used up returning that plate to its original position. I also think the water being pulled up through the roots might make a difference. I don't know how to ensure that the volume of water would otherwise remain the same. Maybe there should be a pipe into the container with a waterwheel.
 — nineteenthly, Apr 02 2009

Half defence:
a. [Bad], If what you wrote in the anno is not an idea, why are you writing it?
b. [uchanan], Why only one ton, say 30 tons (I've seen giant ancient walls displaced by tree roots), why per year? Probably the displacement occurs in a short period of growth, possibly days! That process may be controlled, to be repeated. And perhaps localized to small areas, so that in a small area several megawatt/hr of power could be produced. And then again, you may be right, and this cannot be done.
Back to [Bad] and to point <<a>>:
Seriously: I wrote it, like many other "ideas" in halfbakery, as a thought provoker, and like ALL halfideas here, this halfdea looks at an unexploited phenomenon, with some missing details. In this case, the "way of harnessing this energy" should be quite clear to anybody reading it: Using tanks of water which are raised, and then power a hydroelectric power station. We are only left with the details to be discussed, of how to repeat the process in the same location. And it turns out that this too was solved by [bun]gston.
 — pashute, Apr 16 2009

 //say 30 tons (I've seen giant ancient walls displaced by tree roots)// By all means say 30 tons, though I suspect this involved the concerted action of many roots. The point is that the total energy available from any one tree in this way is going to far less than that available from burning, say, a very very small branch.

If you really want to extract energy from very small-distance, high-force movements, use tectonic plate movement - similar velocities, gillions of times more available force.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 16 2009

//The threat of burning can be used to induce maximal energy from the roots.//
Thus began the first of many Arboreal Religions.
 — Zimmy, Apr 16 2009

[MaxB] thanks for the figures. I agree. So what's best? Delete the whole thing, or leave it for reference in the future? PS. Has anyone written of tectonic energy extraction? At the Jordan valley - as well as the whole Syria-African Break - there is a tectonic movement of several mm a year, along 900 km(!) and about 2000 km total length throughout the whole Middle East and deep into Africa.
 — pashute, Apr 16 2009

No no - leave it here! If we went around deleting ideas on the grounds of impractiability or lack of non-inutility, we'd all be staring at a blank page....
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 16 2009

 Re tectonic energy, I think it's been posted here. I have no idea how much force is behind tectonic movements, but it must be huge. Given that tectonic movements seem to be able to rumple entire layers of rock quite easily, I'm assuming a pressure of something on the order of 1000kgf/cm^2. So, if you have a 10-kilometre-length of fault, and if we assume (for no good reason I can think of) the movement extends for 10km vertically, that's a total force of 10^15kgf, or 10^16N. If the movement is 1cm per year, that's 10^14 Joules of available energy per year, or about 3MW of power.

Actually, on that basis, tectonic energy doesn't really seem all that attractive; even if my estimates are out by a factor of 1000 (giving 3GW of power), that's not much.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 16 2009

 [annotate]

back: main index