Project X. Building Design.
Project No. PX0068.
The research buildings are underground. There are reasons for this. Temperature differences are only a few degrees between summer and winter. Underground houses have the ultimate insulation and lose heat very slowly whereas a surface house loses virtually all heat pumped into it. The space taken by a surface house can be returned to the wild. An underground house can be heated by solar panels as much less energy is required to do this. This all sounds a bit far fetched now but will become very necessary sooner than you think. Due to solar radiation increases in the future, the only way is down.
Ground and Air Source heating.
This is like a fridge whereas the cold side of the refrigerant circuit is in the ground outside the building and the hot side is under the flooring inside the building. If you ever felt the tubing on the back of a fridge it is always warm. This is heat taken from inside the fridge ! If you had a few hundred meters of coiled plastic pipe buried outside containing a refrigerant and a compressor run by solar panels then this is free heating. To make good use of the warmed air in the building a recirculation system is useful. Our house would be round with a central tube which would take warm air from the ceiling and pump it down the central tube and back out at floor level. Ideally, this would be up through small holes in the floor but vents at ground level are ok the only difference being heat from a vent will rise almost immediately whereas small holes all over the floor distribute heat to all of the room. Also this eliminates damp and radon gas as it is removed all the while the system is on. A dust filter in this system would remove the need for dusting ! An Air Source system works like an air conditioning unit but the hot side is in the building and the cold side is taking heat from the air outside. A big improvement was devised which increased the units output was to build a sun facing wall from thermal blocks next to your air source unit and then place the whole lot in a greenhouse. The thermal blocks heated up during the day and released heat into the greenhouse at night therefore providing hot air for the Air Source heat pump to "cool" and put the heat into the house. The underground house should not need heating. At any point on the planet as you become deeper the temperature goes up. There is a 23 degree sweet spot EVERYWHERE. Remember : Your household goods like the computer will add to this heat.
We have just changed all the bulbs in our house to 1.2 watt LED spotlights and 3 watt LED spots in the kitchen. It made a difference to the next electricity bill but were quite expensive. We got ours from E-Bay and were sent from China. It may say the LED bulbs will last for 22000 hours but this is only for the LEDs. Its the small step-down transformer from 240v to 12v that is now designed to blow so you will still be buying bulbs ! The solution is to make the whole lighting system in a house 12v and use 12v LED bulbs currently designed for campers and boats. These will not have a transformer in each bulb but a central one or even a dedicated 12v solar array, inverter and battery bank which has successfully been used for all low power items too like the latest A rated TVs and all computer and smart device charging. Stick to 12v as most things can be bought in this voltage without the need for step down transformers which waste energy.
These are expensive but can pay for themselves over time. A new technology is now making solar panels which are printed on a roll ! These are 90% cheaper to make than silicone based panels. These should be with us soon.
Wind turbines are now available everywhere. The big ones going up everywhere are causing debate as to location etc. These are being put up by companies who will still expect to be paid for the electricity ! The best idea is to put up your own. Theres gaps in the market for guyless turbine towers if theres anyone out there who is good with steel. The best ones will be tubular tapered versions which are counterbalanced so that when you tip the turbine down for maintenance one person can do it. Alternatively, sectioned gantry style towers that you can climb up the inside of. If you need more height you just add another section. Split your house wiring up into 3 circuits, Lighting only, low power sockets and high power sockets. If you have electric showers, water heaters and other high power appliances you may need a normal mains powered circuit.
The lighting circuit can be permanently wired to the battery bank if it is a 12v system cutting out the inverter etc. You save even more power if everything is 12v. There are 24v and 48v units but 12v seems to have more lighting options. Buy a 12v turbine, 12v battery and charger, 12v LED bulbs etc and you can bypass the inverter because your lighting is already 12v. Inverters use some energy in the conversion process. You will never have to pay for lighting again. The 12v LED bulbs also run cold so no chance of a fire caused by heat. The bulbs are supposed to last for 90000 hrs but we have blown two of our 3 watt kitchen LED spotlights within a year of getting them. No chance of being electrocuted with 12v either. We suggest to the government that a new socket system be introduced just for LEDs as then smaller wires can be used in the circuit as it will be impossible to plug a high wattage old style bulb into the socket and so cause something to melt or fuses to be blown ! As your system grows either with more batteries or more turbines, you can add the low power socket circuit using a changeover switch from mains power to your own power. Some of these are automatic and some inverters have them built in. I also suggest a new Govt. backed plug system for this so that it would be impossible to plug a high power unit into a low power socket. Buy the biggest wattage pure sine wave inverter you can afford. It is not unusual for a pure sine wave inverter to produce much better electricity with no spikes or surges than that coming from the mains. We have an an Outback 2800 watt inverter which converts 12v from the battery bank which you can start with just one battery, to 240v suitable for sensitive equipment such as computers etc. Some large inverters have the switches built in so if your batteries get to a preset low level then the inverter automatically reverts to mains power. The government is offering a grant for these items if they are installed by a company but seem to be luke warm about the whole thing probably because if everyone suddenly generated their own power then all the tax levied for oil, electricity, gas etc would amount to billions lost which would in turn cause MPs to not be able to feather their own nests with exaggerated expense claims. Its the same with hydrogen cars. All the technology is there but no takers and there is evidence of people being bought out or paid to stay silent by oil companies / Govt. officials etc. If the 88% tax or whatever it is was suddenly lost just think of the loss in revenue there would be ! When you have enough stored power to run washing machines etc then throw the switch to your high power circuit. Showers, water heaters, ovens and cookers and other high wattage stuff we have left connected to the mains.
A roof panel or two on a south facing slope is good enough to give hot water. The more panels the better the supply later on into the Winter and earlier on in spring. Our ideas are to create an entire roof section under glass replacing the tiles etc. Another idea for hot water is to have an electric hot water heater under the counter for every hot tap. Although these can be colossal wattages you only use them for a few seconds therefore you do not need the big tank of hot water boiling away in the airing cupboard ! It works on the same principle of a shower using less energy than a bath. Also, if these heaters are fed from a solar hot water source the hotter the water will be for the same input from the heater. An instant hot water unit for tea and coffee saves boiling a whole kettle too. There is a pump system for hot taps where 2 pipes are routed to every hot tap on a circuit where hot water is pumped around constantly and when you turn on the hot tap the hot water is there already ! I am not sure of the economy argument for this ! A very sensitive thermostat should be designed so as to only heat water to the temperature you want it. There is an ideal water temperature for everyone that exists whereas you do not need to put cold water in when running a bath. I remember this from when I had my first house. In the summer I knew that putting the boiler on for 26 minutes and being alerted by a common kitchen timer to switch it off, I knew if I ran a bath about 10" deep it would be ideal for me to get in comfortably without using any cold water. Remember to switch off the boiler before you have the bath otherwise it will heat up another lot while you are bathing !
Project X has thought of a solution to the wind turbine problem and has designed a countryside friendly option.
You first purchase the tree trunk containing rechargeable batteries and add on branches as and when you can afford them.
The trunk will be IR resistant ABS and there will be a choice of tree types that you would want in your back garden etc. You then buy the branches which are made from the same ABS but with clip-on green leaves which rotate in the wind. Each leaf has a small dynamo at its base. Each leaf and dynamo combination will be assembled as a single unit and will clip on to the branch where it is automatically connected to the tree wiring attached to the charge controller and batteries concealed in the trunk. If a leaf breaks or a dynamo stops working the whole unit is replaced. You can then add branches by clipping them on where they will be automatically connected via terminals in the joint and locked into position. The more leaves that rotate the bigger the generation of electricity. The leaves can also have solar panels to increase power output and so the tree will work in sunny conditions when there is no wind.
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