Monday, September 22, 2008

Residential Wind Turbines

EcoGeek has a comparative review of residential wind turbines. None of these turbines would be a single-item install to replace all your electricity use, but they're affordable and if your electricty structure is anything like mine, taking the most expensive tier out of the bill would actually give you a financial payback pretty fast. It's on my list of back-of-the-envelope modelling articles to post an analysis of just what the energy and financial return might be for installing one of these.

If you're interested in making some estimates yourself, the Energy department has some useful data for windspeeds at 30m altitudes. (30m! no wonder many cities don't encourage them in urban settings.) Alternately, if you're lucky, you might find data for a Weather Underground station near you - however, I think most stations are rooftop vs on a 30m pole and so may be much slower.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Miscellania: Basic Aerodynamics

For anyone with curious kids (or is a curious kid) who want to know more about how airplanes fly, NASA has posted some material in an index of informations meant for K-12 education. My favorite part is the FoilSim Java applet with controls and displays to illustrate what is going on with various parameters with a 2D airfoil.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Medical UAVs

This has to be one of the coolest UAV uses I've come across in a while - delivery of medical samples or critical supplies like snake anti-venom between remote locations and labs. New Scientist quotes TB researcher Ruth McNerney Ruth McNerney of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK, "It's a very exciting idea. We need to know if it's reliable enough from a technological point of view, but we will only find out by trying." - an attitude which is far too short a supply in the world.

Of course this predates the truly important use of UAVs - who's willing to try UAV pizza delivery with me!

via New Scientist via Gizmodo