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top to bottom energy

harvest the energy stored in moutains
 (+3, -1) [vote for, against]

Nature pushed all that material up to form mountains. We have companies mining the tops of some mountains and pushing the debris over the sides that contaminate the rivers and valleys.

What a waste of stored energy. How about a conveyor to carry all that material down the mountain and generate power with it.

Why stop at the base of the mountain? Continue it to the bottom of the ocean if possible. This could represent a 10 mile drop in elevation and a couple hundred miles long. Multiple generating systems would hand off the ballast to the next in line or deposit to a holding area before continuing on.

What would it look like? I’m not sure, that’s why it’s half baked.

Mr. Jimlid

 — mr jimlid, Sep 16 2009

 Did you do any numbers? Didja, didja?

 Thought not.

 OK, suppose you put 1ton of stuff per hour down a 10mile drop (16,000 metres)

 E = mgh = 1000 x 10 x 16000 = 160MJ of energy, or a power output of about 40kW.

 And that ignores all losses.

So, nopity nope. But welcome the HB, Mr. J. - always do the numbers!
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 16 2009

 Max,

 Hypothetically speaking… if one of those big earth moving dump trucks spilled 350 tons over the side of a 10 mile cliff. That one dump would have the potential energy of 14MW… yes no maybe?? Would it have to be discharged at a steady rate over the span of 1 hour to get 14MW*h?

 Hypothetically speaking… if you had a vertical conveyor that carried 1 ton every 5 feet for 10 miles, would that be 400MW??

One mining operation will push millions of tons over the side of the mountain every day just a one mile change in elevation would seem like a lot…
 — mr jimlid, Sep 17 2009

 //potential energy of 14MW// MW is a power, not an energy. Energy (in Joules) = mass(kg) x height (metres) x G (10m/s2). One Watt is one Joule per second. One megawatt is one thousanf watts.

 //One mining operation will push millions of tons over the side of the mountain every day just a one mile change in elevation would seem like a lot…//

I dunno. Sounds like a lot of rock to me. Some of the biggest dump trucks can carry 300 tons, so this would be at least 3000 truckfulls per day, or one every 30 seconds. Aren't you going to run out of mountain fairly soon?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 20 2009

 In fact, suppose we level Mount Everest and recover *all* the gravitational potential energy.

 Total mass of Everest is roughly 3 x 10^16kg. Centre of gravity is about 2000m above seal evil. Hence, if we level the whole lot, we get an energy of:

 3 x 10^16 x 2000 x 10 = 10^21J.

 Wooo - that's a lot! If we levelled the mount over the course of a year, that would be an average power output of....3 x 10^13 watts, or about 30 terawatts.

 The total power consumption of the US (as a benchmark) is something like 3 terawatts. So, levelling mount Everest will power the United States for about 10 years.

If we levelled all the mountains on earth, my guess is that we would be able to run this planet for something like a century.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 20 2009

//2000m above seal evil// They look so cute. How deep is their hell?
 — pocmloc, Sep 20 2009

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