Tribute to a Pragmatic Swiss Solar Pioneer – Who Called to Action in 1989

He is called a pragmatic doer, knowing his physics and engineering, devoid of ideology. This is how Josef Jenni is introduced in the preface to his document called How can we achieve the energy transition (Wie erreichen wir die Energiewende). It's a manifesto and a technical overview - by the pioneer whose company had built … Continue reading Tribute to a Pragmatic Swiss Solar Pioneer – Who Called to Action in 1989

Pioneers of the Oil Shock Era

.... a lot had been done right after the 1973 oil embargo but there exist almost no documents on theses activities. The concerned pioneers were realizing all types of heat pump systems, sometimes day and night. But they did not care for publishing. ... says Professor of Engineering Martin Zogg, in his research report History … Continue reading Pioneers of the Oil Shock Era

The Solar Self-Building Movement

Every year the International Energy Agency publishes a detailed report on worldwide usage of solar thermal energy. The last one from 2019 is based on data from 2017. Countries are ranked by their installed capacity: Collectors' thermal heating power under standard operating conditions is linked to their area: 0.7 kWth (kilo Watt thermal) per square … Continue reading The Solar Self-Building Movement

Sources of Heat, Life, and Everything

Same procedure as every summer: Science and tech blogging comes to a halt, and the daring 'internet artist' is summoned. But also unorthodox avant-garde art is rooted in down-to-earth engineering. In summer elkement leaves the programmer's cave (a bit) and sees the sun. The local elkemental microcosmos is a fully functional biosphere-2-like ecosystem with lots … Continue reading Sources of Heat, Life, and Everything

Cooling Potential

I had an interesting discussion about the cooling potential of our heat pump system - in a climate warmer than ours. Recently I've shown data for the past heating season, including also passive cooling performance: After the heating season, tank temperature is limited to 10°C as long as possible - the collector is bypassed in … Continue reading Cooling Potential

The Collector Size Paradox

Collector harvest does not change much if we only use half the collector. Perhaps counter-intuitive but explained by the characteristics of heat exchangers connected in series: Especially if one of the heat exchangers (in the tank or collector) is already much superior to the other one, it does not help to optimize the good one further.

Same Procedure as Every Autumn: New Data for the Heat Pump System

October - time for updating documentation of the heat pump system again! Consolidated data are available in this PDF document. In the last season there were no special experiments - like last year's Ice Storage Challenge or using the wood stove. Winter was rather mild, so we needed only ~16.700kWh for space heating plus hot … Continue reading Same Procedure as Every Autumn: New Data for the Heat Pump System

How Does It Work? (The Heat Pump System, That Is)

Over the holidays I stayed away from social media, read quantum physics textbooks instead, and The Chief Engineer and I mulled over the fundamental questions of life, the universe and everything. Such as: How to explain our heat pump system? An astute reader suggested to create an 'animation' of the gradual evolution of the system's … Continue reading How Does It Work? (The Heat Pump System, That Is)

Economics of the Solar Air Collector

In the previous post I gave an overview of our recently compiled data for the heat pump system. The figure below, showing the seasonal performance factor and daily energy balances, gave rise to an interesting question: In February the solar collector was off for research purposes, and the performance factor was just a bit lower … Continue reading Economics of the Solar Air Collector

Art from Plastic and Wood

After the musings on Life, the Universe and Everything you deserve a break - and a post with not too much verbiage. I am borrowing some images from a series of posts the Chief Engineer is currently running on our German blog. (My job title is Science Officer, but we don't have a Captain). This … Continue reading Art from Plastic and Wood

Measurement Data for Our Heat Pump System – Finally Translated Documentation

In an earlier post  I said Although we have very innovative, and if I may say so, geeky / nerdy customers it is rather unlikely that we will plan heat pump systems in Australia via sending checklists or doing ‘remote support’ in the same way we work in IT projects. OK - now we really … Continue reading Measurement Data for Our Heat Pump System – Finally Translated Documentation

Lost in Translation – an Overdue Update

In this post I try something new: I will keep it short. This is actually an update long overdue. Months ago I have written a post on how to control the four elements that is how to harvest energy from ambient air, solar radiation, the freezing of water, and ground here. A loyal reader told … Continue reading Lost in Translation – an Overdue Update

Welcome to the Real World!

Warning: This is a disturbing post - despite the allusion to The Matrix in the title it is - really - about the real world only. Hardly any geekiness included. In order to compensate for that I will craft a short search term poem - this time exclusively from yesterday's search terms: the universe is … Continue reading Welcome to the Real World!

Controlling the Four Elements. Or: Why Heat Pumps Are Cool.

Despite my attempts to post mainly geeky and weird stuff peppered with (very often not down-to-earth) physics, I got involved in some serious discussions on renewable energy, sustainability, heat pumps, and the pleasures of Building Your Own Stuff. So I will describe what I am actually working on / playing with when I am not … Continue reading Controlling the Four Elements. Or: Why Heat Pumps Are Cool.