Enter: the Box

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Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-21 05:18pm

I've had this idea kicking around my head lately, based on the premise I'll quote below. The idea would be to play out the scenario using a series of vignettes, in the same kind of vein as Surlethe's "Global Mean Temperature". This scenario, though -- uncoupling humanity from its need to generate energy -- would have a more optimistic ending, though of course there would be some bumps along the way.

I post this here and now for a couple of reasons. First, I thought that there might be some interest. Second, I hoped that there might be some feedback/suggestions/corrections from people here whose knowledge of some of the topics will certainly exceed my own. For example, while I can foresee that the petro-states will have to take some extreme actions if energy starts being essentially free, I don't have the geopolitical chops to game out exactly what those are, so my take would be superficial.

Also, there is an "end game" already in mind, or rather, two or maybe three of them; I just haven't decided yet which it will be, and right now it isn't very important.

So, what do we think?
The premise wrote:Every so often, an invention changes the world. It's happened a million times already: someone makes a critical improvement on an existing technology, and boom, the world changes forever. It's the way it always happens.

Except for the most important invention in the history of the world. No one invented the Box, or at least, no one could ever figure out who did. One day it just appeared on several tech discussion groups, in the form of a document with complete schematics and instructions for its mass production. Attempts were made to try and track down whoever was responsible for uploading it in the first place, but its inventor remained a complete mystery.

Once they realized what the Box could do, the big corporations tried to monopolize it. Legally, they didn’t have a leg to stand on – not that that ever stopped them before – and when it turned out that almost anyone could crank them out in their garage, it wasn’t even worth the trouble to try to keep the genie in the bottle. It would take all of their resources just to remain relevant.

Before very long, you could buy your own Box for the cost of a tank of gas. And then you wouldn’t really need the gas anymore, because the Box was, simply put, a ten kilowatt electrical generator. It never needed any fuel, or maintenance, and it would run forever. No one could ever say why, either; the world’s foremost physicists and engineers declared that the Box couldn’t possibly work, but they could not deny that it worked anyway.

And of course, it changed the world.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by LastShadow » 2016-02-25 12:35am

Is that the start to the story in a way? Is it a story or just a general discussion? But it sounds like an interesting concept and story i might read.

But it also upon reading that, i get the sense of "typical nefarious plot" later in the road.

Perpetual energy would be amazing, the direct consequences of such a thing are obvious, the collapse of the oil industry, and subsequently the collapse of a lot of financial structure. Loss of thousands, if not millions of job, maybe tens of millions of jobs.

In short this invention, given freely would really radically change the way the entire world works, and interacts. On one hand it would solve our energy crisis, on the other it may well cripple our economical structure and plunge us back into the dark ages, albeit dark ages with lighting...

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by bilateralrope » 2016-02-25 01:12am

Interesting premise. One that would shake up the world.
Perpetual energy would be amazing, the direct consequences of such a thing are obvious, the collapse of the oil industry, and subsequently the collapse of a lot of financial structure. Loss of thousands, if not millions of job, maybe tens of millions of jobs.
Don't forget the creation of various short term jobs. For example, it's going to replace oil for fuelling cars eventually. But the speed of the transition is going to be limited by how fast electric cars can be cranked out. So expect a increase in demand for people who can work on car assembly lines and people who can modify existing petrol lines to produce electric cars.

It's going to be a mess.

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by LastShadow » 2016-02-25 01:45am

bilateralrope wrote:Interesting premise. One that would shake up the world.
Perpetual energy would be amazing, the direct consequences of such a thing are obvious, the collapse of the oil industry, and subsequently the collapse of a lot of financial structure. Loss of thousands, if not millions of job, maybe tens of millions of jobs.
Don't forget the creation of various short term jobs. For example, it's going to replace oil for fuelling cars eventually. But the speed of the transition is going to be limited by how fast electric cars can be cranked out. So expect a increase in demand for people who can work on car assembly lines and people who can modify existing petrol lines to produce electric cars.

It's going to be a mess.
Mess is an understatement. the car industry will be left largely alone, due to the need to cars still, BUT, Oil derricks, gone, Trucks that carry fuel, gone, tankers that carry fuel, gone. Power plants less necessary.

Massive radical changes to basically our entire infrastructure would be needed, in a society that is VERY slow to change.

Like i said, if fleshed out properly, it would be a hell of a read, but it would take a lot of research in various areas to get a good story out on it.

Its a hell of a concept, and it would be a phenomenal read im sure, but its way more of an undertaking than i would ever tackle personally. I cant wait to see what others have to say on the subject.

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-25 09:04am

The "tease" I posted was to start the discussion. The actual story is still bouncing around, and (as I suggested) would be told in dozens of vignettes. I'm imagining scenes all the way from the dirt farmer converting his operations over to make use of the new technology to heads of state and captains of industry figuring out how the hell to survive the coming revolution.

As pointed out, the research necessary is starting to worry me. I know a little about a lot of stuff, and a lot about a few topics, but I don't know everything about everything. And to do this right, I would need to know (or at least pretend to know, along with some educated speculation) a lot about everything.

As for some of the points already made, I'm thinking that while, yes, the price of oil will drop quite a bit, it won't ever be so low that the low-cost operations will stop. Cars will still be burning the stuff for the short to medium term, as will aircraft, and it's still used as a component of other products unrelated to fuel. There won't be any major incentive to get rid of gasoline/diesel vehicles, because (a) the fuel will be cheap and plentiful for the medium term, and (b) climate change will go away fairly quickly (thanks to energy-intensive processes which can just pull the CO2 out of the air), and you can't power anything faster than a golf cart directly with a Box. Biofuels will ramp up, I'm thinking, at least until battery energy density can improve vastly. Marginal areas will open up, thanks to essentially free desalination, which will lead to greater irrigation and therefore crop yields, which will lead to population increases, and (eventually) the third world will get a share because, why not, it's free. Petro states like Saudi Arabia won't be able to continue placating their populace any more, much less promote religious extremism abroad, and will (?) go the way of the Arab Spring. And a hundred other things, which eventually (in thousands of years) lead to a post-scarcity world.

I'm also wondering about whether or not I should place this fully in the real world. The scene I'm imagining with the Koch brothers seeing their empire circling the bowl would be satisfying, I think, but it might be too topical to consider if I want this to stand the test of time.

Anyway, yes, opinions are definitely appreciated.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by bilateralrope » 2016-02-25 12:01pm

and you can't power anything faster than a golf cart directly with a Box
What stops a car being powered by multiple Boxes ?

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-25 12:33pm

bilateralrope wrote:
and you can't power anything faster than a golf cart directly with a Box
What stops a car being powered by multiple Boxes ?
Other than space and resource considerations, nothing. While a car that has enough energy to drive forever sounds like a great idea, you would need about ten of them to get you to where you need to be (i.e. 100 kW, or about 135 hp), and at the size I'm thinking of for the Box -- a cube about 15cm (roughly 6") -- that would take up a fair amount of space, to say nothing of the external wiring that would be required. Less than three cubic feet for the Boxes themselves -- so about the same volume as a gas tank -- but the amount of hardware to safely connect this amount of power to the engine is not insignificant.

There's also the opportunity cost; you wouldn't want to keep ten of these things in your car, unless you're driving a *lot*, because that means that you aren't using them to do anything else with the energy you could generate while you're not driving. I suppose you could pull the Boxes from the car when you're not driving and hook them up to something else.

So yes, there's nothing stopping someone from using multiple Boxes to power a car, and for some applications it might work well, keeping in mind the considerations mentioned.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by bilateralrope » 2016-02-26 03:25am

SCRawl wrote:
bilateralrope wrote:
and you can't power anything faster than a golf cart directly with a Box
What stops a car being powered by multiple Boxes ?
Other than space and resource considerations, nothing. While a car that has enough energy to drive forever sounds like a great idea, you would need about ten of them to get you to where you need to be (i.e. 100 kW, or about 135 hp), and at the size I'm thinking of for the Box -- a cube about 15cm (roughly 6") -- that would take up a fair amount of space, to say nothing of the external wiring that would be required. Less than three cubic feet for the Boxes themselves -- so about the same volume as a gas tank -- but the amount of hardware to safely connect this amount of power to the engine is not insignificant.
How does that compare to the volume taken up by batteries in an electric car ?
There's also the opportunity cost; you wouldn't want to keep ten of these things in your car, unless you're driving a *lot*, because that means that you aren't using them to do anything else with the energy you could generate while you're not driving.
I'm imagining a world where people have enough Boxes that they have spare generation capacity. So they won't care about Boxes sitting in their car doing nothing. Especially when the car companies are selling cars with Boxes as part of the engine. While their home is powered by other Boxes.

Or maybe their home is still plugged into the national grid because building a Box power plant is going to be quicker, cheaper and easier than giving an independent power supply to every single house. Especially if boxes produce:
- The wrong voltage. Especially important as different countries use different voltages for their national grid. Which causes issues if you take appliances designed for one country into one with a different voltage.
- DC current instead of AC
- AC with the wrong frequency.

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by LastShadow » 2016-02-26 04:48am

bilateralrope wrote:
SCRawl wrote:
bilateralrope wrote: What stops a car being powered by multiple Boxes ?
Other than space and resource considerations, nothing. While a car that has enough energy to drive forever sounds like a great idea, you would need about ten of them to get you to where you need to be (i.e. 100 kW, or about 135 hp), and at the size I'm thinking of for the Box -- a cube about 15cm (roughly 6") -- that would take up a fair amount of space, to say nothing of the external wiring that would be required. Less than three cubic feet for the Boxes themselves -- so about the same volume as a gas tank -- but the amount of hardware to safely connect this amount of power to the engine is not insignificant.
How does that compare to the volume taken up by batteries in an electric car ?
There's also the opportunity cost; you wouldn't want to keep ten of these things in your car, unless you're driving a *lot*, because that means that you aren't using them to do anything else with the energy you could generate while you're not driving.
I'm imagining a world where people have enough Boxes that they have spare generation capacity. So they won't care about Boxes sitting in their car doing nothing. Especially when the car companies are selling cars with Boxes as part of the engine. While their home is powered by other Boxes.

Or maybe their home is still plugged into the national grid because building a Box power plant is going to be quicker, cheaper and easier than giving an independent power supply to every single house. Especially if boxes produce:
- The wrong voltage. Especially important as different countries use different voltages for their national grid. Which causes issues if you take appliances designed for one country into one with a different voltage.
- DC current instead of AC
- AC with the wrong frequency.
Well that would cause issues and a little chaos at first but i would think after that the easier choice would be to go universal.

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by Iroscato » 2016-02-26 06:03am

Will you delve into the origins of the Box itself and the reasons for its appearance? Could be interesting to approach it from a Childhood's End kind of angle, benevolent(?) aliens covertly gifting us with the key to free unlimited energy for...Some Reason...
Yeah, I've always taken the subtext of the Birther movement to be, "The rules don't count here! This is different! HE'S BLACK! BLACK, I SAY! ARE YOU ALL BLIND!?

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-26 09:03am

Chimaera wrote:Will you delve into the origins of the Box itself and the reasons for its appearance? Could be interesting to approach it from a Childhood's End kind of angle, benevolent(?) aliens covertly gifting us with the key to free unlimited energy for...Some Reason...
That is the plan; it would be near the end of the third act.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by Iroscato » 2016-02-26 10:49am

SCRawl wrote:
Chimaera wrote:Will you delve into the origins of the Box itself and the reasons for its appearance? Could be interesting to approach it from a Childhood's End kind of angle, benevolent(?) aliens covertly gifting us with the key to free unlimited energy for...Some Reason...
That is the plan; it would be near the end of the third act.
Then you most certainly have my attention! This does sound like a fascinating concept to explore.
Yeah, I've always taken the subtext of the Birther movement to be, "The rules don't count here! This is different! HE'S BLACK! BLACK, I SAY! ARE YOU ALL BLIND!?

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-26 11:38am

bilateralrope wrote:
SCRawl wrote:
bilateralrope wrote: What stops a car being powered by multiple Boxes ?
Other than space and resource considerations, nothing. While a car that has enough energy to drive forever sounds like a great idea, you would need about ten of them to get you to where you need to be (i.e. 100 kW, or about 135 hp), and at the size I'm thinking of for the Box -- a cube about 15cm (roughly 6") -- that would take up a fair amount of space, to say nothing of the external wiring that would be required. Less than three cubic feet for the Boxes themselves -- so about the same volume as a gas tank -- but the amount of hardware to safely connect this amount of power to the engine is not insignificant.
How does that compare to the volume taken up by batteries in an electric car ?
Looking at the Tesla Model S as my benchmark, the wimpiest of these has a maximum power rating of 175 kW. (The "ludicrous" version can develop over 500 kW.) So to hit the same performance level as a low-end Tesla S (which can still top 180 km/h, by the way) would require 17 or 18 Boxes. By volume, looking at around 3 L per Box, we're talking about 54 L or so. I can't find any specs on the battery for the Tesla S, but it appears to be approximately 10 cm thick by the entire footprint of the car, so way more than 54 L. So volume isn't an issue, but see below.
SCRawl wrote:
bilateralrope wrote:There's also the opportunity cost; you wouldn't want to keep ten of these things in your car, unless you're driving a *lot*, because that means that you aren't using them to do anything else with the energy you could generate while you're not driving.
I'm imagining a world where people have enough Boxes that they have spare generation capacity. So they won't care about Boxes sitting in their car doing nothing. Especially when the car companies are selling cars with Boxes as part of the engine. While their home is powered by other Boxes.

Or maybe their home is still plugged into the national grid because building a Box power plant is going to be quicker, cheaper and easier than giving an independent power supply to every single house. Especially if boxes produce:
- The wrong voltage. Especially important as different countries use different voltages for their national grid. Which causes issues if you take appliances designed for one country into one with a different voltage.
- DC current instead of AC
- AC with the wrong frequency.
I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation, using one number: the amount of energy used worldwide in 2012. According to here, world energy consumption from all sources was about 5 x 10^20 Joules. Averaged over time, that's 2 x 10^13 Watts, or 2x10^10 kW. At 10 kW per Box, that means that average power requirements could be fulfilled by roughly two billion Boxes. Realistically (if I may use that word for a made-up technology) the worldwide market for Boxes would be something like ten times that, to account for (a) peak power generation requirements and (b) non-first-world increases in their consumption. I admit to pulling the "ten times" number out of my ass, but I think it's in the right neighbourhood.

My point by saying this is that manufacturing tens of billions of these devices would be a non-trivial exercise, and certainly at first no one would want to waste them by having them sit idling for 95% of the time. If we're going to be building this level of over-capacity into the system, then multiply that 20 billion by another order of magnitude -- which, again, is fine in the longer term, but not in the short term.

In one sense, manufacturing these devices can be self-sustaining; for every Box you put to work that's less work that has to be done at the power plants, for example. But raw materials don't appear out of thin air, and that's one of the issues that would have to be resolved. Along these lines, even once Box production peaks, reclamation of old materials would become necessary -- landfills would be a good source of this, since energy efficiency really isn't an issue when it comes time to process the stuff you can mine there -- and the Earth would not be enough to satisfy all of our material ambitions. Again, energy might be free in this scenario, but aluminum and copper and everything else are finite resources.

As for individual use of the Boxes, I imagine a "kit" becoming available for domestic use, packaged up and set for the correct voltage and frequency combination with a convenient connector to be used to retrofit an existing home by a qualified electrician (another finite resource). A good friend of mine is an electrical engineer, and has been helpful with the technical questions.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by bilateralrope » 2016-02-26 04:08pm

SCRawl wrote:My point by saying this is that manufacturing tens of billions of these devices would be a non-trivial exercise, and certainly at first no one would want to waste them by having them sit idling for 95% of the time. If we're going to be building this level of over-capacity into the system, then multiply that 20 billion by another order of magnitude -- which, again, is fine in the longer term, but not in the short term.
Which is another reason why Box power plants are more likely in the short term than rewired houses, as power plants will be able to minimise Box inactivity by sending the power to where people what to use it (or into storage) than a rewired house.

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by madd0ct0r » 2016-02-27 06:39am

ten times may be about right for the short term. This might be useful for you for non western countries: http://calc.bd2050.org/pathways/1111111 ... 1111111000

There's other ones available for China, India, Uk ect...
---

So Short term effects:

Venezuela, Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain start to see oil revenue slide, undermining their entire economy and raising chance of riots and revolutions.
Saudi Arabia could fling a lot of poo as it goes down, but not sure it could do much actual damage. NIGERIA is the big one. If that collapses and the population scatters as a migrant dispora it'll be a bloodbath.

Indonesia, Australia, Russian Federation, United States, Colombia, South Africa start to see COAL revenue slide faster. This ranges from serious destabilisation for Indosnesia and Australia to localised economic collapses for the US. Russia gets clobbered twice over.
Indosenesia is also a major tin producer, so you might see the mining sector wriggle a lot between sites for a a decade before contracting. Probably leaving vast environmental damage in its wake.

Investment shifts to copper, lithium, rare earth metals. The latter two are already highly valued, so minimal change there short term. Copper production: Chile booms, Other South American do too. Russia gets some luck. Congo gets a puppet dictator installed to allow us to mine.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_c ... production

Collapse in solar power pisses off china especially.

DOMESTIC effects:
Going to focus on non-west as more interesting. Countries like Bangladesh and India with a hugely overstretched grid sees very fast mobilisation of box per house. Many houses have a diesel generator anyway, so it's an easy swap. Various politicians and officials attempt to monopolise the design, regulate it and make it difficult for competitors. They largely fail. A string of house fires caused by poor wiring results in legitimate attempts to set up inspectors and housing regs. It dosen't solve the issue but does help.

Demand for lightbulbs spikes, then paint and tiles (you can now see the dirt) as well as white goods. TVS, Fridge, freezer and aircon in that order.
Land prices remain high in the cities. Small houses don't mean less gadgets but does constrain their size. Over the long term, the urban heat island effect will become worse and worse. You are dumping a huge amount of energy as heat (eventually) into the city air. This would probably result in a series of increasingly bad heatwaves and deaths before water fountains and trees and similar options become standard (or not). I'll come to water shortages down the page.

Electric train systems continue to be proposed, but frankly energy was never the difficult part there. Still, being able to load a wagon full of boxes with no need for wiring and a gantry support system to hold the Overhead wires makes the billions the UK is spending right now look fairly foolish. Some boat companies start looking at another size up from the current largest.

Various NGOs have plans for the Boxes too. The first is simplest, and that is distributing them to the poorest areas, off grid hospitals ect. It will take a long time for the costs of the boxes to drop low enough to reach these places and people are dieing in the meantime. The next is desalination. The water table under Dakar has dropped by like ten meters in the last decade or so, and the hundreds of dams being built in asia for hydroelectricity suddenly cost more, return less and represent political liabilities. Salt water from the sea being pumped into canals with desalination plants along their length (or desalinated first and simply dumped into irrigation canals to keep the water table high and stop salt water intrusion into the aquifer.)
This isn't limited to poor countries either. From California to the Uk to Australia, as energy costs drop exponentially desalination feeds thirsty cities: http://www.wri.org/resources/charts-gra ... ss-country

In the medium term, these NGOs will be tied up trying to manage the collapsing petrostates and alleviate the hardship there. You can now do things like fill a lorry with the infrastructure requirements of a tent city and get it up and running without relying on high risk fuel imports. You could have Fischer-Tropf unit that produces nitrogenous fertilizer with nothing more then an air intake and a pellet output slot. Stick it in a barn and leave it running all year. This doesn't solve one of the other key nutrient requirements though...

Other NGOs (or possibly even elightened goverments) may, once their grid is fairly green, be setting up powered air filters to suck out CO2 and produce black carbon, to be mixed into ground, or buried appropriately. There's an energy calc that could be used to
measure the minimum number of these sets needed to halt/reverse climate change.


It helps us with maybe three of the key limits we're butting up against, and maybe, if used sensibly, could result in avoiding a few others. the rest will require clever engineering to solve, even with free power.

https://tedideas.files.wordpress.com/20 ... hic3v7.png?
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-27 08:57am

bilateralrope wrote:
SCRawl wrote:My point by saying this is that manufacturing tens of billions of these devices would be a non-trivial exercise, and certainly at first no one would want to waste them by having them sit idling for 95% of the time. If we're going to be building this level of over-capacity into the system, then multiply that 20 billion by another order of magnitude -- which, again, is fine in the longer term, but not in the short term.
Which is another reason why Box power plants are more likely in the short term than rewired houses, as power plants will be able to minimise Box inactivity by sending the power to where people what to use it (or into storage) than a rewired house.
Short term, yes, you might be right, at least considering places like where I live (Canada). Thousands of Boxes could be combined in a facility and then just be added to existing energy production. But I think that individuals would be looking to become disconnected from this as early as possible (if they're able to afford the conversion costs), and once it becomes a trend there would be less and less need for centralized power.

Once there's a Box (or two) in every home, and other common needs (such as street lights, which was pointed out to me recently) have been taken care of, then the existing infrastructure would be disassembled (so as not to require maintenance to avoid it falling into disrepair). This is a medium-term project, at least, though.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-27 08:59am

madd0ct0r wrote:too much to quote
Lots there to think about, thanks for it. In particular, this:
madd0ct0r wrote:You could have Fischer-Tropf unit that produces nitrogenous fertilizer with nothing more then an air intake and a pellet output slot. Stick it in a barn and leave it running all year. This doesn't solve one of the other key nutrient requirements though...
...got me thinking. First, were you thinking of the Haber-Bosch process, rather than Fischer-Tropsch? If so, I agree that this would be a standard use for Boxes. As for the other point, about the other macro-nutrients, I'm thinking that potassium would be in sufficiently high concentrations in sea water that a by-product of desalination would yield as much as anyone would want. (I'll do a calculation on that to verify.) Phosphorus should also be recyclable, so I don't think that fertilizer would be a limiting factor.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by Enigma » 2016-02-27 09:14am

Can one upsize or downsize the Box to fit their needs? For a Box power plant, upsize the design so it produce more energy? Or downsize the design for smaller applications? A Box containing the internals of several regular Boxes packed and wired closely together?

Does it generate heat or is the Box cool to the touch?
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-27 09:23am

Enigma wrote:Can one upsize or downsize the Box to fit their needs? For a Box power plant, upsize the design so it produce more energy? Or downsize the design for smaller applications? A Box containing the internals of several regular Boxes packed and wired closely together?

Does it generate heat or is the Box cool to the touch?
The Box is a "one size fits most" technology. If you want more power and/or significantly higher voltage, you'd need to gang many of them together. I'm imagining that voltage and frequency could be adjusted (or set at the time of manufacture, if they never need to be adjusted again), and phase would have to be adjustable (to create multi-phase power, such as for large motors).

As for creating an "upsized Box", I know what you're getting at -- basically making, say, a thousand Box "guts" inside a much larger enclosure, and doing away with the intermediate enclosures -- and I'm trying to decide whether I want it to go that way. It certainly would be attempted, for obvious reasons, but I don't know if I want that to be successful; I'm kind of liking the aesthetics of the Box as a unit.

The Box itself produces no heat, but of course the conduction of electricity does (leaving aside superconductivity for the time being).
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by madd0ct0r » 2016-02-28 04:40am

SCRawl wrote:
madd0ct0r wrote:too much to quote
Lots there to think about, thanks for it. In particular, this:
madd0ct0r wrote:You could have Fischer-Tropf unit that produces nitrogenous fertilizer with nothing more then an air intake and a pellet output slot. Stick it in a barn and leave it running all year. This doesn't solve one of the other key nutrient requirements though...
...got me thinking. First, were you thinking of the Haber-Bosch process, rather than Fischer-Tropsch? If so, I agree that this would be a standard use for Boxes. As for the other point, about the other macro-nutrients, I'm thinking that potassium would be in sufficiently high concentrations in sea water that a by-product of desalination would yield as much as anyone would want. (I'll do a calculation on that to verify.) Phosphorus should also be recyclable, so I don't think that fertilizer would be a limiting factor.
Ugh, yeah, I grabbed the wrong process. you are correct. Phosphorous is always being leached out - its not the critical one for us in the real world, but its in top ten I think.
Potassium and seawater may be possible - lots of salts that need to sorted out, but that might be possible. You may want to look into Seacrete for the far future options.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by Sky Captain » 2016-02-29 04:24am

How much does it weigh? While not very important for power plants, ships and cars mass would be deciding factor whether those Box generators could power large airliners. You would need like 5 - 10 thousand of them to make big airliner fly. If that is too much mass then aircraft will remain major consumer of hydrocarbon fuels.

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-29 08:57am

Sky Captain wrote:How much does it weigh? While not very important for power plants, ships and cars mass would be deciding factor whether those Box generators could power large airliners. You would need like 5 - 10 thousand of them to make big airliner fly. If that is too much mass then aircraft will remain major consumer of hydrocarbon fuels.
I was imagining a mass of around 1kg. Air transport would for the most part still require liquid fuel, at least until *future technology x* becomes available.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by Sky Captain » 2016-02-29 03:23pm

SCRawl wrote:
Sky Captain wrote:How much does it weigh? While not very important for power plants, ships and cars mass would be deciding factor whether those Box generators could power large airliners. You would need like 5 - 10 thousand of them to make big airliner fly. If that is too much mass then aircraft will remain major consumer of hydrocarbon fuels.
I was imagining a mass of around 1kg. Air transport would for the most part still require liquid fuel, at least until *future technology x* becomes available.
1kg per 10 kW output is actually pretty good. Boeing 777 for example takes off with around 150 tons of fuel. Replacing that with these generators would yield 1,5 GW while flight power requirements are around 100 - 150 MW. So a big airliner would need only 10 - 15 tons of Boxes which is much less than fuel load. An airliner powered by Boxes would not only be possible but would outperform hydrocarbon fueled ones and have unlimited range.

Giant cargo aircraft dwarfing even AN 225 would make lot of sense in this universe. Since fuel costs are zero much larger portion of intercontinental freight could be cheaply transported by aircraft than is economically feasible in real world. Although aircraft would have to compete with much faster ships too. Cargo ships traveling 100 km/h or more would be perfectly feasible and economical. Pushing the speed up as much as possible would mean ship and crew can do more trips per year and earn more money.

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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by SCRawl » 2016-02-29 03:50pm

Sky Captain wrote:1kg per 10 kW output is actually pretty good. Boeing 777 for example takes off with around 150 tons of fuel. Replacing that with these generators would yield 1,5 GW while flight power requirements are around 100 - 150 MW. So a big airliner would need only 10 - 15 tons of Boxes which is much less than fuel load. An airliner powered by Boxes would not only be possible but would outperform hydrocarbon fueled ones and have unlimited range.

Giant cargo aircraft dwarfing even AN 225 would make lot of sense in this universe. Since fuel costs are zero much larger portion of intercontinental freight could be cheaply transported by aircraft than is economically feasible in real world. Although aircraft would have to compete with much faster ships too. Cargo ships traveling 100 km/h or more would be perfectly feasible and economical. Pushing the speed up as much as possible would mean ship and crew can do more trips per year and earn more money.
These are all fine, but how much would the electric motors weigh? They're going to be heavier than their jet fuel equivalents, but the question is by how much.

I had also anticipated that shipping would become even more economical (and faster), and with fewer oil tankers necessary to meet the world's petrochemical needs there would be more shipping available.
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Re: Enter: the Box

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2016-02-29 09:20pm

Unless the electric motors weigh 10x what the jet-fuel engines do you're still going to save weight on boxes+motors versus engines+fuel.
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