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Directory:Closed Loop Ammonia Turbine

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The closed loop ammonia turbine is a variation of the basic heat pump, such as is found in a refrigerator. Heat pumps usually exhibit a Coefficient of Performance (COP) in excess of 1.

The ammonia version was developed extensively internationally in the late 1800's through the 1930's, but fizzled out due to then cheap oil prices. It can be scaled to either utility and commercial size or for home power.

Now that oil is no longer cheap, and now that there is an increased thrust to move away from polluting technologies, it would be a good idea to revisit this neglected gem of a technology. It could provide power several times cheaper than conventional methods, and it could do so cleanly, from renewable sources of input heat such as solar, ambient heat, or even waste heat from power plants.

It is a technology that resembles the solar design put forth by Nikola Tesla, but nowadays can be pieced together from off-the-shelf components.

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Ammonia boiling point wrongly given

On October 11, 2008, Chris K. Skinner <cknospamskinner {at} somehost.net> wrote:

Dear Sterling,

The web page: http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Closed_Loop_Ammonia_Turbine contains a technical error that was repeated in the radio show .mp3 program.

It gives the boiling point of ammonia as -45 F.

However, http://www.google.ca/search?q=Liquid+ammonia+boiling+point indicates that the boiling point of ammonia is -33.34 degrees C (-28.012 F) which is a higher temperature than -40 degrees F because -40 F is the same as -40 C.

The usefulness of this refrigerant is slightly more than freon-d with a boiling point of -29.8 degrees C as given on web page: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/freon-d_972.html on bullet point 7 at the list below the table of values. Ammonia's boiling point is 4 or so degrees lower making its range of temperature operation wider (and more useful in colder climates like Canada or Northern USA during the Winter months).

How it Works

Image Source: Modern Mechanix, as reprinted by TreeHugger, July 23, 2007.
Image Source: Modern Mechanix, as reprinted by TreeHugger, July 23, 2007.

The ammonia turbine is basically a heat pump system, and can be very long-lasting so far as mechanical systems go (20-30 years, with maintenance every 2-3 years).

The system is comprised of a heat expander, in which a heat source causes the liquid to change to a gas, expanding in the process, whereby it can turn a turbine. It is then condensed back to liquid through a four-stage compressor.

Liquid ammonia boils at -33.34 degrees Celcius (-28.01 Farenheit).

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Coverage

  • Solar Powered Refrigerator (in 1935!) - In 1935 California engineer Otto Mohr proposed combining an ammonia absorption cycle refrigeration unit (like the Icyball) with a spherical lens. (TreeHugger; July 23, 2007)

Other Coverage

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Related Technologies

  • Tesla's Solar Ideas : 1916 Reprint - According to The Electrical Experimenter, in addition to his prolific electrical work, Tesla patented a sun motor. The article also discusses the Shuman-boy's engine and sun boiler installed in Egypt with output of 100 horsepower.

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Directory:Chris Patton

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