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.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.