In recent months, I have come across something that makes me smile and think the world might just be alright. It is the “Global Village Construction Set”. It is basically 50 pieces of equipment that are required to build and maintain a small village. Being a heavy equipment operator and looking at this set for the first time, I was to say the least a little skeptical. But with most things I saw a possibility and a realization as well. Not everyone comes from an operating equipment background and nothing is truly perfect in design.
In my line of work I come across many different types of engineers. None of which would equal the intelligence found in the global village construction set. Even though the set is constructed in the same fashion as the technics play set of my youth. It could possibly be built by someone of little technical background following the instructions in much the same manner as one would to assemble flat pack furniture. The most ingenious part of the design was the ability to change power units or combine multiple power units into one machine. Imagine working away and a power cube breaks down in minutes a replacement comes in and the machine is back up and running. Take that same idea and now give yourself a fully electric power cube, two cubes that run on bio-fuels ( Biodiesel and Ethanol) or petrochemical fuels like gasoline, diesel, propane or natural gas. The ability to use the least expensive form of energy for your piece of equipment depending on availability and cost. Now you might read this and think, gee Mike I need to have 7 different types of power cubes that will be expensive. Yes and No, I say.
Bio diesel and diesel can be run in the same engine. Ethanol, gasoline, propane and natural gas can be run in the same engine with different fuel injector programs as well as timing basically flipping a switch or selecting from a set program. And of course electric turn on and go.
I like the last option the most because of the simplicity of the energy source. It is delivered to my yard free of charge (no pun intended). I have the ability to capture it, store it and use it with out ever seeing it. I can collect it from my hydro dam, wind generator, solar panels and of course from my grid connection. When I fuel up it takes longer and the energy density is less (contains less energy per pound). But with my ability to switch power cubes in a minute or so, the negatives are negated. The positives from using electricity are torque (the ability to do work) is available from 1rpm and up in an electric motor compared to minimum 600 rpm and up in an internal combustion engine. When I fill up it is the equivalent of plugging in my cell phone, except bigger. Depending on the type of batteries used, the possibility of spilling fuel or smelling fumes would be almost nil. There are some unique challenges ahead for this project but It will definitely be my imperfect design…