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Charged Superhydrophobic Condenser Surface May Make Power Plants More Efficient 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-water-dance-to-our-tune dept.
New submitter _0xd0ad sends this news from the CS Monitor: "The activities of bantam water droplets in just one region of a power plant could make a significant difference in the output of power plants, scientists say. ... When a water droplet forms on a sheet of metal coated with a superhydrophobe, the droplet can camp there only so long as it does not merge with another droplet. As soon as it weds with another droplet, the energy produced is so great that the two will 'jump' away from that surface, as if in urgent deference to the surface's severe water phobia. Scientists have proposed that this 'jumping' could be incorporated into power plant design. ... 'To have the most efficient condensing surface, you want to remove the droplets as early as possible,' says Dr. Nenad Miljkovic, [postdoctoral associate at MIT and co-author on 'Electrostatic charging of jumping droplets']. But, in prototypes, this 'jumping' design is not as efficient as engineers believe it could be. Some of the droplets will just fall back to the condenser's surface, recoating it and slowing the process down. ... But a newly discovered component to the 'jumping' process might allow scientists to eliminate this fall back. In an accidental find, the MIT team found that droplets don't just spring from the surface — they also rebound from each other ... because an electrical charge forms on the droplets as they flee the hydrophobic surface. So, if a charge is applied to the condenser system, the water droplets can be electrically prevented from returning to the surface, he said.
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Charged Superhydrophobic Condenser Surface May Make Power Plants More Efficient

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  • What? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:17PM (#45039035)

    No, sorry OP, you're gonna need to spell out exactly why it'll make things more efficient. Start from the assumption I don't know what a 'bantam' water droplet is, cos, as far as I understand it, powerplants make electricity by heating up water into steam (via coal/gas/nuclear/whatever) then expanding it through turbines to spin generators. Where, in that process, does this efficiency gain come in? Where is this 'sheet of metal' that drops are forming on? What drops? Why are they forming there? How is stopping them gonna improve this? What sort of efficiency gain are we talking about here?

  • Scale (Score:2, Insightful)

    by justthinkit (954982) <floyd@just-think-it.com> on Friday October 04, 2013 @05:07PM (#45039465) Homepage Journal
    You know what kills heat transfer? Scale. This system will die (i.e. drop to not so fancy smancy levels) as soon as the scale builds up.
    - a chem. eng.
  • Re:Scale (Score:2, Insightful)

    by justthinkit (954982) <floyd@just-think-it.com> on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:41PM (#45040245) Homepage Journal
    All I can give is an intuitive answer -- I think this surface doesn't stand a chance. Surfaces don't stay superhydrophobic or super anything. Things get shut down and serviced but corrosion never sleeps.

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