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Comment: Re:The failure mode is transformer core saturation (Score 1) 90

by calidoscope (#47538633) Attached to: The Truth About Solar Storms

An alternative way of minimizing the effects of a severe solar storm on the grid would be placing series capacitors on the long AC transmission lines. This is done already to increase power transfer capacity of some lines.

Since the solar flare is visible many hours before CME hits, the utilities should have time to configure the grid for the storm. The oerative word here is "should".

Comment: Mid 1960's Army research (Score 1) 380

by calidoscope (#47329723) Attached to: New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel
There was an article or two in the likes of Mechanix Illustrated or related magazine about the US Army experimenting with ammonia fueled engines. Reports indiacted that engines would function, but had not been developed to the point of practicality. Shudder to think what kind of NOx levels are present in the exhaust.

Comment: Re:Cyclotron Radiation? (Score 1) 66

That sounds like a reasonable guess as to what is going on. The hot plasma is conductive and the Johnson noise may produce enough current to emit detectable radiation. My recollection was that the sky noise temp at 50 MHz was on the order of 3,000K, and the plasma from the meteor trail is likely to be considerably hotter than that.

Comment: Re:Fuel economy? (Score 1) 119

The benefits in the modest increase in efficiency are not so much from reduced energy usage, but the higher efficiency reduces the amount of waste heat that has to be removed from the PCU. The higher junction temperatures allowable with SiC makes the cooling task even easier. What has Toyota excited is that the PCU with SiC is much smaller than the PCU with standard silicon power devices.

Comment: Re:Efficiency? (Score 5, Informative) 234

The transmissions on current GE and EMD diesel electric locomotives are about 94% efficient from the output of the prime mover to the driving wheels. I would expect electric car motors to be on the order of 90 to 95% efficient, so this should compare favorably with a mechanical tranny.

Speaking of locomotives, the free piston gasifier was being heavily researched in the 1950's as a more efficient realization of a gas turbine and something that could compete with diesel engines as prime movers.

Comment: Re:Holdren isn't as literate as one might think (Score 1) 509

by calidoscope (#46657781) Attached to: The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates
Back in the 1970's, Holdren was also going around saying that clean coal was safer and better for the environment than nuclear. His "analysis" showed that the largest number of deaths would come from grade crossing accidents with coal trains. After hearing that, I never took him seriously as he is more of activist pretending to be a scientist.

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that you are working for someone else.