Upon reading my feature package on repowering the Welland Canal, one reader asked me if the 24 million gallons of water flowing through a lock is captured to generate power each time a ship passes. It was a good question given that not to put it toward that use seems like a terrible waste of massive water movement.
I asked my hosts about this when I visisted the Welland Canal on Nov. 9 at lock 3, standing next to older weir along side the lock. At the time, water spilled over that weir, but no power was generated. It was drainage only. The Taintor valves that control the in- and outflow of that 24 millions gallons run free of power generation, probably because the 24 million gallons has to enter and exit in 7-10 minutes to quickly dispatch the vessels. Adding generators would presumably slow down the flow.
However, the canal’s U.S. and Canadian overseers signed an agreement last year to build three hydro plants that uses existing weirs to capture "run-of-the-river" water that spills over them. The weirs handle the overflow water that does not pass through the locks. Why didn’t I think of that — after 75 years of operation!? Each power station will produce 2 megawatts and in together promises to power 5,000 homes, so sayeth the canal’s overseers.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
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