History of air conditioning, invented by Willis Carrier – cool reading for a hot day

Willis Carrier submitted drawings of the first modern air conditioning system on July 17, 1902.

Carrier was working to solve a problem that effected the quality of printing…

He came up with the brilliant idea to circulate cold water rather than steam through heating coils in a machine he used to test heaters.

Carrier’s design was credited as the first to address four basic functions necessary for air conditioning. An air conditioner must: 1. control temperature, 2. control humidity, 3. control air circulation, and 4. cleanse the air.

After the first appearance of Carrier’s air conditioner drawings in 1902, the air conditioner has revolutionized the comfort of people in many different activities.

This timeline from Carrier highlights some of the major impacts of air conditioning on society.

 

1902– First application of modern mechanical air conditioning, Sackett-Wilhelms

printing plant, Brooklyn, N.Y.

1914– First application of air conditioning in a residence – Charles Gates mansion, Minneapolis, Minn.

1924– First department store air conditioned, J.L. Hudson’s, Detroit, Mich.

1925– Movie theaters cooled: Grauman’s Theater, Los Angeles, Calif., Rivoli Theater, N.Y.

1928-29– Chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate air conditioned

 

See the rest of the timeline and read the full articleThe Journey of Air Conditioning: 1902-Today

 

 

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Edison delays investigation of San Onofre nuclear leak – local newspapers stop covering completely

March 2, 2012 – Southern California Edison (SCE) continues to perform extensive testing and inspections of the steam generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

“Nuclear safety is our top priority,” said Pete Dietrich, SCE senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “Everything we do — from normal plant operations and routine refueling…”

– Edison PR

I don’t want to be controversial, but this is starting to sound like a delay tactic. The leaking nuclear steam turbine was taken offline over two months ago with an investigation to follow. The initial word was that a report would be issued “the following week.”

After that deadline passed a few newspapers reported the delay. Then, Barbara Boxer, California’s Senator, issued a concerned letter and so did the local city council.

Still no results from the investigation.

Even the local newspapers, with readers in the fallout zone, have stopped reporting on it. The issue seems to be sliding into the rear view mirror, and perhaps that’s the way Edison wants it.

The leak has become much more serious than initially reported. Our local journalists (at the LA Times, OC Register, and San Diego UT) did us a disservice by simply reporting what Edison told them: the leak was tiny, no safety issues were posed, and Edison is doing everything right.

A line they still stick to (when they do cover it).

My own investigations turned up something different. First, the report to the NRC said that the first unit leaked up to 82 gallons/day of radioactive steam. Second, the sister unit had upwards of 1,000 pipes showing radiation damage. Third, there was another incident back in November with an ammonia leak.

Yeah, nothing to worry about here, Edison has it all under control. Two reactors turned off, one leaking, radiation damage, and ammonia problems.

It doesn’t help that Edison is purposely ambiguous in their statements. The only significant piece of information in the latest press release (linked above) is that some of the 1,000 pipes have been “plugged”. Which begs the question, were they leaking?

I understand these things are complicated but the longer the issue drags on the worse it seems to get. Edison isn’t becoming any more honest in their dealings with the public. The newspapers are continuing their anti-journalistic approach.

I have to wonder if the approach is to delay, wait until any public interest dies down, and then handle it their own way.

Stay tuned and remember that the nuclear industry has a very poor track record and may have no regulatory control.

As Senator Boxer and City Council get involved, no word on source of radioactive steam leaking from San Onofre

Sen. Barbara Boxer has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a comprehensive review of the radiation leaks at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, to determine how widespread the problems might be.

In a letter, Boxer asked to NRC Chairman Gregory Jackzo to “thoroughly assess” the conditions at San Onofre plant “to determine what further investigation and action is required at this time, and whether similar actions may be needed at other nuclear facilities.”

A staffer at the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee said the senator is concerned that the reported wear and tear on the unit’s piping, which is only two years old, might reflect broader problems at other plants across the country.

via UT San Diego

In an earlier post, I summarized the situation to-date:

There is also discussion that the Nuclear Commission is suffering from regulatory capture, which means that they are afraid to report any leaks.

This has led to a large amount of confusion in the public and so it’s great that San Clemente citizens are getting involved:

Residents worried about leaks from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station asked San Clemente’s elected leaders Tuesday night to have sensors installed around town to monitor radiation levels.

“We believe with recent events at the San Onofre Waste-Generating Station that it is necessary for the citizens’ safety and well-being to have a monitoring system,” San Clemente resident Gene Stone told the City Council.

Stone said an independent monitoring system would provide radiation readings so residents could tell how safe the atmosphere was at any given time. He also called for a study to identify cancer and leukemia risks in San Clemente, which is just over two miles up the coast from the nuclear plant’s two reactors.

“Edison may know what the radiation levels are, but they’ve told me that they won’t share those with the public,” San Clemente resident Donna Gilmore told the City Council. “I could go to the library and look at last year’s figures. Well, that’s not going to do me any good.”

Read the response from the Nuclear Company (Edison) and the City Council at OC Register

Bloom Energy, an update – from start-up to acceleration, this company is winning

It’s been two years and time for an update on Bloom Energy. Back in February, 2010, the company made a big splash by announcing their technology and their customers.

The technology is revolutionary for the simple fact that it does not use steam-powered turbines. Every power plant in the world from coal to nuclear still uses a steam engine. Think Mark Twain on the Mississippi and you’re not far off.

This technology uses a Solid-Oxide fuel cell to convert natural gas into energy without combustion (or steam).

For decades, experts have agreed that solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) hold the greatest potential of any fuel cell technology. With low cost ceramic materials, and extremely high electrical efficiencies, SOFCs can deliver attractive economics without relying on CHP (steam). But until now, there were significant technical challenges inhibiting the commercialization of this promising new technology.

via Bloom Energy

The “low cost ceramic materials” is huge because traditional fuel cells use expensive and rare ones that America fights China for.

The other major component here is the “technical challenges” that Bloom has overcome using a term they call “R&D on steroids”.

As a venture capital backed company they have been able to rapidly iterate since 2001, resulting in some incredible efficiencies. The first is the fuel cell they launched in 2010 that requires half the natural gas for the same power from traditional sources.

The second, recently launched, allows for double the amount of power with the same cell. Put another way, with the same footprint you get 200 kw instead of 100 kw.

These innovations have been hugely popular among the right set of customers. Companies like Coca-Cola, Walmart, Google, Bank of America, AT&T, and Ebay have all installed the Bloom Servers at their offices.

That success is continuing as seen by the rapid growth in their workforce, which has increased by 70% since 2010, and added 1,000 manufacturing jobs in California. Not to mention establishing an international arm to push this technology worldwide.

Back in 2010, when the company was lauded as the next big thing many were skeptical, including myself. Here is my coverage of that press event launching Bloom Energy.

At this point, though, it seems clear that the only question is when GE will buy the company or start competing with them.

AES power plant in Huntington Beach

If you drive down PCH in Huntington Beach you will pass the only power plant in Orange County. Located at Newland and PCH, across the street from the beach.

The natural gas plant is owned by AES a leading global power company with 132 plants in 32 countries with $17 billion in revenue. It is currently listed at #150 on the Fortune 500 (pdf).

In California, it operates 2 other natural gas plants in Los Alamitos and Redondo Beach. As well as 5 wind stations. Although, the largest section of its portfolio are coal powered plants located elsewhere in the USA.

The plant in Huntington Beach was purchased from Southern California Edison in 1998 and has been in operation since 1958. It uses conventional GM steam turbines among others.

In 2001, the company petitioned to upgrade and then turn on gas burners 3 and 4 (additional source), which would bring the capacity up to 904 MW. They were successful and, in 2002, the city valued the plant at $325 million.

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