Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Electrical small talk

While the moms and daughters were reenacting the Yalta Conference, I was hanging out with two of the other dads.

As coincidence would have it, they were both involved in the electrical power generation and distribution industry.

Little tidbits that I picked up
  • Windmills (wind turbines) are designed for a fifteen year service life
  • They have enormous foundations
  • Load balancing for windmills is incredibly difficult.
  • Load balancing will only become more difficult as coal fired steam generation is taken off-line.  
  • Natural Gas-turbine power is inefficient when you get much below peak power.  They are On/Off
  • Brake shoes for windmills are the highest maintenance part
  • There is no elevator. 
  • All maintenance parts and equipment must either be carried up on somebody's back or pulled up in a dumb-waiter.
  • People in some urban areas shoot the heck out of cables.
  • They think the cables transmit camera images from intersections
  • They shoot up the cables before committing crimes
  • Some of the cables do transmit camera traffic management, for instance.
  • Cables are designed with redundancy but 90% of the redundancy is already used up
  • It is highly improbably that any of the people shooting these cables are members of the NRA
  • Nearly all of the auxilliary systems that were submerged at Fukushima were on the ground floor.  
  • In the US, all of those systems in Nuclear facilities are on the second floor and are partitioned off into separate, environmentally sealed rooms.
  • The newest generation of US Nukes are a throwback to the Nimitz design.
  • Nimitz demanded noise free, pump free designs.
  • The downside of the Nimitz reactor is power density.  They are big for the power produced.
  • Size is less of a restriction in a stationary power plant than in a submarine or surface ship.
  • New reactor cores will be at the bottom of very, very deep water vessels.
  • "Over-heat" will reduce the density of the water (think steam pockets if that helps).  Lower density water means that neutrons will not be slowed down enough to be captured by U nuclei.  The reaction becomes self-quenching. 
It is amazing how much you can learn if you can keep your mouth shut.


  1. And no matter what, there has to be enough base load generating capacity to take over when the wind does not blow nor the sun shine. Unless blackouts are now considered greenouts.

    1. "Unless blackouts (and brownouts) are now considered greenouts"

      That is excruciatingly funny!

      I have no doubt that I will steal it in the near future. Hope you don't mind.

  2. I've heard that load balance complaint before... And it's going to get interesting as brownouts start happening...

    1. Ummm, Jim....that would be "...greenouts start happening..."

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. San Francisco has "yellowouts" as urine corrodes the light poles....


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