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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The stirling engine

The latest invention is an electrical generator based on a19th-century idea, an unusually efficient kind of engine, called a Stirling engine which never caught on.
With the Stirling, has been built the world’s neatest little high reliability package that will turn any form of waste into power.
They have experimented with Stirling engines in electric cars and motorbikes, but the real target is the developing world.
In trials in Bangladesh, a village used one of the engines to generate electricity for nearly six months using only cow dung for fuel.
Technology is easy to develop, but developing a new attitude, moving the culture from one mental model to another, that’s the difficult part.
You give people a solution to a problem and the great irony is that even though they’re unhappy, they have high inertia.
People don’t like change.
The reason it takes technology 15 or 20 years to come in, is because 15 years is the time it takes a kid who saw it when he was young to become a functioning adult.
Cities (especially in Europe) were made to be highly dense environments for pedestrians, while the car is a piece of hardware that was optimized to go really far, really fast.
Over half the world’s population now lives in cities, and nobody knows for certain what people will be using to get around cities in 20 years’ time, but certainly they won’t be using cars.
The financial, emotional, political and environmental costs will be prohibitive.
So welcome solutions that are going to transform waste (which is getting a big problem to get rid of)in power.
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