14 June 2006

Ergosphere Implodes

Of all the things that could cause the Ergosphere to collapse into its attendant black hole I didn't think an unclosed 〈hr \ was capable of such a feat.

On a more serious front, I saw an interesting example of efficiency improvements driven by higher energy prices the other day. We were seeing a demo for a fumehood. For those of you who aren't familiar with such a piece of research apparatus, they essentially allow you to conduct chemistry experiments that might emit noxious fumes. The fumehood is a box within which a high airflow is passed. This laminar air flow prevents any gas from escaping into the laboratory environment.

Of course, the cost of conditioning all this air that passes through a fumehood is quite high. The engineer from the fumehood manufacturer say that the annual cost of heating and cooling air for a fumehood was $5.50 per cubic feet per minute flow rate. Our fumehoods cost approximately $10000 and have a constant flow rate of 620 cfpm. Hence the operating (energy) costs of the fumehood ($3410/annum) exceeds the capital investment in under three years.

In order to improve the energy efficiency of the fumehood the company has developed a variable flow system that reduces the flow rate when all the windows on the fumehood to the lab are closed. This is futher improved by adding an infrared motion sensor − similar to the type on automatic doors − that opens and closes the window (sash) when someone actually approaches the fumehood.

I just thought that this was an interesting anecdote of how industrial operations can improve their energy efficiency through high energy prices. Judiciously applied carbon taxes and efficiency subsidies could help further improve a huge number of industrial energy consumers. I know that my energy consumption at work (which would be categorized as industrial sectors) dwarfs my personal energy consumption.

1 comment:

Engineer-Poet said...

It was more of a connectivity problem; when I tried to update the template, the so-called network ate most of it while passing enough to bollix the whole thing.

I've tried to cover the details.