Thursday, June 7, 2018

(Not so) reecent developments in wind power

An interesting bit of historical perspective on the challenges of relying on wind as an energy source. The full article complete with date can be found after the jump, but I'd recommend taking a moment to guess the age before you click through.

Treating recently of the possibility of utilizing the wind power which now so constantly goes to waste everywhere about us, mention was made of two means for accomplishing the object-electrical storage batteries and reservoirs for compressed air. It is worth while to state that the article was written with the full conviction, and for the purpose of bringing presently to fair understanding the fact that neither of these will do the work, and to urge inventors and active minds to work out the problem by which something better may become available.

You have to give those 19th century engineers credit. They grasped the basic problem even if they were more than a century away from having the tools to solve it.

One aspect I want to highlight is the use of compressed air to store energy. I've noticed this coming up a lot in the technology of the time. Perhaps it was the tighter tolerances that came from improved manufacturing techniques, but, whatever the reason, compressed air as a means of storing or conveying power shows up in a wide range of applications, from pneumatic guns and subways to self propelled torpedoes that used pressurized air to power their motors.

This doesn't connect up with any larger point. I just thought it was interesting.

[Proposed design from the same issue.]

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