dance of four elements

Yesterday I heard from my friend Luigi that he had joined a startup, this place (the website is down for me as of this writing but I expect it may be up again soon?) It's a really cool concept, which is to use a steam engine in combination with a solar hot water heater to solve a nagging problem in renewable energy - storage, consistency, and variable output.

The idea is that you can essentially store the solar energy captured by the concentrator as a (very) pressurized tank of (very) hot water. Then as needed, you bleed off some water into a lower pressure environment, which causes it to flash boil into steam. That steam drives an old-school piston steam engine, which generates electricity. The company is targeting community and industrial scale power generation with this, as essentially a replacement for auxiliary diesel generators, in places where those are regularly used.

The thing I love about this system is that it could have been built 100 years ago. It doesn't require any fancy chemistry or software. Well, maybe it does as delivered today, but the concept certainly seems like it would have been buildable 100 years ago, and would have generated a stable supply electricity from the sun.

My immediate scheme is to figure out how to scale it down far enough to work for the castle.

The other idea that this kicked off starts here:
So, the fire and water fountain is cool, but why does it need an external power source? That's lame. Why not combine it with something like this: google: candle turbine ?

Then you'd have three elements, fire, air, and water, you might as well work in the fourth. The idea that came to me was a stone water wheel that's driven by the candle turbine. So the candle drives the turbine, the turbine rotates the stone, which picks up water, maybe even just on its surface, as it rotates. I think it would be super cute.

Also would make an excellent puzzle door if scaled up, so that the stone wheel had a hole in it at some point, so you light the torches, wait for it to rotate... I guess you don't really need the water in that application but so what.

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