Sunday, April 28, 2013

CIBSE award the prize

25 April 2013: I very much enjoyed going to the CIBSE annual technical symposium on 11 April, and I delivered my powerpoint with my usual enthusiasm, although very conscious that I am an architect, not qualified as a building services engineer. My paper was on the Thermal Modelling exercise on the borehole under the Peveril Solar House.

I had a letter this week from CIBSE to say that for the second year running, I had won the award for the 'most effective delivery of material', with a book token of £50 ! I will probably spend this on their classic book on Heat Pumps - might understand a few things that still mystify.
Last year, I bought their ultimate book on vertical transportation.

April '13 Reports

28 April 2013: It's been a mostly overcast week with some weak sunshine and dropping temperatures, but not cold enough to turn the heating on. My wife is in hospital still, and would have been asking for more heat in the evenings, perhaps. For the Peveril Solar house, annual figures are improving.
At last we are having a rise in the energy volume of the borehole
  • House annual 5,588, biennial 5,212 kWh.
  • GSHP annual 3,566, biennial 3,204 kWh
  • PV annual 2,997, biennial 3,173 kWh. 
  • Sunbox annual 2,765, biennial 2,742 kWh. Annual has just overtaken the biennial.
  • Ground Temperature 12.1ºC . 
In the world, it has been a quieter week, with the biggest news story coming from Bangladesh, of the 8 story manufacturing building collapsing with hundreds (or thousands) of people working inside only 2 days after cracks in the building had led people to think it was unsafe. The building was clearly over populated with both people and textile machines, and probably badly constructed too. The owners are under arrest. In Syria there are accusations that Sarin gas has been used, and the use of bio-weapons like this a grossly illegal, described by some as a 'red line' of wickedness. It's very difficult to prove, and could be a hoax - by which side? The US doesn't want to repeat the mistake of being drawn into war by dodgy intelligence. The British Royal Airforce started flying remote drones over Afganistan from a control centre in Lincolnshire - this seems to me another redline of wickedness.  GW Bush, a US president who thought books were things you lined walls with had a library opened in his name, attended by all the current living presidents.
  Architect Rick Mather died, apparently of Mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos. He was American but made most of his career in the UK. 1.5m of metal undercarriage from a Boeing 767 was found in New York 12 years after 911. 97 prisoners maintain their hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay (which should have been closed in 2009, but wasn't). Luis Suarez of Liverpool became a negative celebrity for biting the arm of a Man City player.  Manchester United became Premiership champions, while Reading and QPR were relegated from the Premiership.

21 April 2013: For the Peveril Solar house, the annual figures are improving significantly with the change in weather, especially as each week advancing is trimming off a week of April 2012 which was miserably cold all through.
  • House annual 5,639, biennial 5,213 kWh.
  • GSHP annual 3,621, biennial 3,205 kWh
  • PV annual 2,963, biennial 3,178 kWh. 
  • Sunbox annual 2,679, biennial 2,743 kWh, we've had more Spring sunshine
  • Ground Temperature 12.1ºC . Another sunny weekend, some good solar input, and we break through the 12º barrier!
More about World news?: Oh, there has been so much, it's difficult to keep up! Monday started with the Boston Marathon, which concluded with two home-made bombs planted near the finishing line on Boylston St. The two Chechen brother perpetrators were caught on many photos and videos of the crowd as the end line, and were stupid enough to behave suspiciously. Instead of lying low, they then hijacked a Mercedes (and its driver) and robbed a 7-11 store and shot a policeman. After a shoot out with the police, the older brother was shot up, and got driven over by his fleeing younger brother - who later spent the night hiding in a boat in someone's back garden, until he was winkled out by the police infrared cameras, robot grabber and stun grenades. Of course, his mother said he was innocent - she would. After all this, evil Republican senators still filibustered a Senate bill, so that there cannot still be background checks when buyers at gunshows want to buy dangerous weapons.
  North Korea was making more noises with the birthday of Kim-Il-Sung on the same day, but that was blotted out by the media storm of Boston, which conveniently blotted out also, car bombs in Iraq and the largest earthquake in Iran for 60 years.
  Conductor Colin Davis died (ex of the London Symphony orchestra), as did Richie Havens, the guitarist. Baroness Thatcher had her funeral and George Osborne let go a tear in St Pauls - not sorry for those he is making homeless with bedroom tax, but weeping over an old lady who he hardly even met! Talking of departures, Sir Chris Hoy announced his retirement from competitive cycling having achieved the greatest ever number of British Olympic Gold medals.
   In a town called West, north of Waco, a fertiliser manufacturing plant blew up up disastrously, destroying much of the neighbourhood. This hasn't been inspected for safety for 25 years in the business-friendly state of Texas (governors GW Bush and now Rick Perry). Later, Gov Perry, having voted against federal aid for New York after the [act of god] storm-flood was begging the Federal government for aid for what is human negligence.
  This has been an explosive week with a major earthquake in Sichuan province in China.

14 April 2013: The Winter seems finally over! The static north east wind finally was replaced with a South West wind that was also bearing a small amount of rain. On the Peveril Solar house all the annual statistics have turned round for the better - the weather now is improving and the weather a year ago in April 2012 was moving into its 12-months-of-rain mode, so the biennial figures are worsening slightly as the annual ones improve.
  • House annual 5,702, biennial 5,216 kWh.
  • GSHP annual 3,694, biennial 3,207 kWh
  • PV annual 2,982, biennial 3,186 kWh. Still a few kWh below the GSHP, damn!
  • Sunbox annual 2,593, biennial 2,737 kWh, we've had more Spring sunshine
  • Ground Temperature 11.7ºC . After a sunny weekend, and one in which I spent time out and about (e.g. visiting wife in hospital), the ground had a chance to get some good solar input.
ArcoSanti, Arizona
Worldwide, what has been happening? Well the only news story of the week seems to have been Mrs Thatcher dying on Monday (I won't spoil this page with a picture of her) and the nation split between eulogising and excoriating. Vast numbers of people have downloaded the Wizard of Oz song "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!" and as this is now in the hit parade the right-wing press hammered the BBC to censor it, but the BBC decided to play 5 seconds of it only. After all this criticism of 'political correctness' the tabloids suddenly scream for the song to be suppressed and describe those who don't like Thatcher as 'Lefties' - and they call for public money to be spend on the Funeral, despite the quite bright suggestion that the funeral should be put out to tender and awarded to the lowest bidder just as Mrs Thatcher would approve. Parliament was recalled for a day of eulogies, and Glenda Jackson MP made a wonderful speech summarising the ways in which Thatcher had damaged British culture and life (it's on Youtube, search for 'Glenda Jackson Thatcher'). "Wreaked the most heinous social economic and spiritual damage on this country."
Inspirational drawings by Paolo Soleri 1969
        Getting away from Thatcher for a moment, the North Korean crisis continues with John Kerry doing all he can to avert escalation, with talks to the Chinese, Japanese and S Korean and offers of talks to the stupid little war monger in Pyong Yang, the only person with a more scary haircut than Donald Trump. Other deaths..... Dr Robert Edwards, one of the test tube baby pioneers, died, having made it possible for thousands of couples to have children safely. Architect Paolo Soleri died. He was a visionary architect who spent many years building ArcoSanti, an eco settlement in Arizona. I once drove there, but didn't have the courage to walk in and talk to the people there (We'd already visited Taliesin West and my wife wanted to drive on to Pheonix.)


7 April 2013: The weather has turned for the better, and there has been no wet rain for 3 weeks, although there was snow for a couple of days two weeks ago. Weather has been dominated by the cold dry north east wind that still dominates, but there has been some good sunshine in the last week, with some bumper days of energy capture. There have been two days in the week with the unusual result of the PV being so strong that the entire House consumption was smaller than the GSHP consumption.
   World News --..... Well, this week we saw the 40th Anniversary of VAT in the UK, and of the first Mobile Phone. Inventions like that need an infrastructure, so mobiles didn't become available to the UK until 1987, and I had my first one in 1989. Cameron's 'reforms' of tax, social spending, bedroom tax, millionaires tax cuts etc all come into action this week, let's hope each one is a ticket to opposition benches in 2015. One of them is a pay rise for the Queen's househole of £6 million, but considering that her children are grown up and the palace is very large, shouldn't she be paying this back in Bedroom Tax? The evil Philpott couple finally had their prison sentences confirmed, and they are being put away for a long long time, and their house will be demolished. The North Korea story goes on and on, and seems that all the raising of the threat level comes from NK, it is like a pressure vessel of militarism there. The only person with a haircut more weird than Donal Trump seems determined to cause big trouble. In Afghanistan, it was a horrible day, with a 25 female US diplomat killed by Taliban while delivering books to a school, and NATO aerial attacks killing a large number of children in a house.
   The American film critic Robert Ebert died of cancer; although I hadn't known much of him before, the final departure message as an excerpt from his last book was a noble and thought provoking piece of writing. Here it is in full on Salon.com :  "I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris."
   Back to Britain, some social research group decided that there are now 7 Classes in Britain, the lowest being named the 'Precariat', and the top being called the 'Elite'. Some of the subdivisions of the remaining 5 are time based, meaning that there can be movement between as people gain qualifications.  The Grand National was run at Aintree on Saturday and won by a jockey called Ryan Mania on Auroras Encore. The very next day, Ryan was hospitalised with back and neck injuries after coming off his horse at Hexham.
Picture of Auroras Encore winning, taken by Sky Sports
   Peveril metering figures will turn around for the better if we have a warmer summer (and peel off those weeks of rainy cold summer in 2012). This doesn't look like happening yet!
  • House annual 5,713, biennial 5,207 kWh - getting better, the first turnaround of the year.
  • GSHP annual 3,718, biennial 3,205 kWh - holding steady.
  • PV annual 2,965, biennial 3,192 kWh. Just a few kWh below the GSHP, damn!
  • Sunbox annual 2,539, biennial 2,737 kWh, we've had some Spring sunshine, and this is a change for the better!
  • Ground Temperature 10.9ºC . After a sunny weekend, I would have hoped for 11.0º and two of my thermal measurements were 11.0-11.3, but I take the one given by the GSHP which is 10.9º. But thats an improvement. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Transient Modelling: Wikipedia

12 April 2013: I was very glad to learn of the concept of Transient Modelling (as against Steady State modelling).  Duncan Faulkes of Sustain Ltd was a speaker at CIBSE before me, and used this expression when he described his work with optimising the size of a heat store as part of a biomass boiler system. This is what I have been doing for the thermal model for my boreholes, but didn't call it that. I also checked Google and Wikipedia and found that it is referred to in many documents, but was astonished to find that nobody has created a Wikipedia entry for it. I have taken the liberty of creating a Wikipedia entry for it, and hope that it will be accepted by the editors. Even if it is not, here it is anyway. I have avoided mentioning my Sunboxes, boreholes or anything specific to the Peveril Solar project, but have linked it to skyscrapers, another of my special interests. The temporary entry reference is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transient_modelling but I have found in the past that the Wikipedia editorial team are very analytical, so who know if it will still be there in a week's time? I have already been asked to do some edits - put in more links and improve the formatting.


Transient modelling is a way of looking at a process with the primary criterion of time, observing the pattern of changes in the subject being studied over time. The obverse of it is Steady state, where you might know only the starting and ending figures but do not understand the process by which they were derived. Transient models will reveal the pattern of a process, which might be sinusoidal or another shape that will help to design a better system to manage that process. Transient models can be done on a spreadsheet with an ability to generate charts, or by any software that can handle data of inputs and outputs and generate some sort of a display. Transient modelling does not need a computer.  It is a methodology that has worked for centuries, by observers noting patterns of change against time, analysing the result and proposing improved design solutions. 
    A simple example is a garden water butt. This is being topped up by rainfall from the roof, but when the butt is full, the remaining water goes to the drain. When the gardener draws water off, the level falls. If the garden is large and the summer is hot, a steady state will occur in summer where the butt is nearly always empty in summer. If the season is wet, the garden is getting water from the sky, and the butt is not being emptied sufficiently, so in steady state it it will be observed to be always full.
    If the gardener has a way of observing the level of water in the butt, and a record of daily rainfall and temperatures, and is precisely metering the amount of water being drawn off every day, the numbers and the dates can be recorded in spreadsheet at daily intervals. After enough samples are taken, a chart can be developed to model the rise and fall pattern over a year, or over 2 years. With a better understanding of the process, it might emerge that a 200litre water butt would run out 20-25 days a year, but a 400 litre water butt would never run out, and a 300 litre butt would run out only 1-2 day a year and therefore that would be an acceptable risk and it would be be the most economical solution. 
      One of the best examples of transient modelling is [transient climate simulation]. The analysis of [ice cores] in glaciers to understand [climate change]. Ice cores have thousands of layers, each of which represents a winter season of snowfall, and trapped in these are bubbles of air, particle of space dust and pollen which reveal climatic data of the time. By mapping these to a time scale, scientists can analyse the fluctuations over time and make predictions for the future.
     Transient modelling is the basis of weather forecasting, of managing ecosystems, rail timetabling, managing the National Grid, setting the national Budget, floating currencies, understanding traffic flows on a motorway, solar gains on glass fronted buildings, or even of checking the day-to-day transactions of one's monthly bank statement.
     With the transient modelling approach, you understand the whole process better when the inputs and outputs are graphed against time.

References or examples: 
http://www.onepetro.org/mslib/app/Preview.do?paperNumber=SPE-101872-MS

CIBSE Tech Symposium, Liverpool 2013

11 April 2013: I had the honour of being invited to submit another paper to CIBSE for this year's CIBSE Annual Technical Symposium in Liverpool, "Delivering buildings that are truly fit for purpose".
  Although I am an architect dropped into a bowl of high powered environmental engineers and Phd students, I really feel welcomed at the CIBSE events, and Professor Tim Dwyer epitomises the goodwill and hospitality of CIBSE.

For CIBSE, I wrote up my thermal modelling project of 2012. Although the essential text of the paper was first written for the SET Vancouver conference of mid-2012, that was early days and there are enough changes to make a substantial improvement to the original paper and the powerpoint. There are an additional 8 months of weather patterns and meter readings since then, plus the additional Sunbox4 and the addition of ETFE to Sunbox3. It's interesting to see how the model has responded to the dreadfully long winter we have had, which only this week seems to be coming to an end. Im glad to say that the energy volume model image correctly reflects the weather pattern, more effectively than the temperature curve below which shows that the temperature is holding level, thankfully, not going below 10ºC, whereas the energy level has not yet begun to climb.
Energy volume model to end of March 2013
The energy volume is low, not having had any real sunshine in 2013, and having had a continuation of the freezing temperatures, causing the GSHP to draw more energy. The volume is not as low as in the winter of 2009, and sunnier warmer weather is expected by the end of this week.
   One useful thing I learnt is that this sort of modelling is called Transient Modelling, a name that is still not explained in Wikipedia, but describes modelling where you follow a process by considering inputs and outputs at time intervals, and see what happens over time. This is how weather forecasts and climate change models are done. I my case I am using daily meter readings over 4 winters, with the time interval being one day, and this displays a clearer picture than just considering the Annual figures.

The point of my model (and talk) is that you can continue putting thermal energy down there in the Summer but it still doesn't get 'hot' - there is always a good delta-T because the ground settles down to a comfortable temperature of just below 14ºC, and you can continue to deliver Sunbox energy to the borehole. What I deduce is that the energy volume increases, but the temperature does not, i.e. the volume of earth that achieves this temperature of 14º gets larger.
   I am not sure that I stated it as categorically as that - I fear not, and I need to edit the powerpoint to emphasise this. I also need to express the final Algorithm for calculating the Recharge Adjust Factor as a proper formula, not just as a line of programming code. I also need to be a bit more daring with that R.A.F. and see what happens if I vary it from 35 millionths.
Rick Mather's Art and Design building for Liverpool John Moores University on Brownlow Hill (image off Google Streetview). An excellent place for a conference, also favoured by ArchiCAD Summer School.
Liverpool's Lime St Station (image Liverpool Echo), which is always, for me, a joy to visit. The World's first commercial passenger train service was from Liverpool to Manchester in 1830, and I have a sense of history on that section, thinking of the massive work of laying rails through the boggy landscapes between the two cities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverpool_and_Manchester_Railway
      Lime St has been massively improved since I lived in Liverpool. As you emerge from those arches and look over the city, the view of St Georges Hall and the city skyline is one that never fails to impress.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Getting Hot water from Cold water

5 April 2013: Here is a great idea, published in Gizmag this month.
http://www.gizmag.com/cold-water-heater/26941/
Hal Slater of San Diego has developed a small heat pump to move surplus thermal energy from your cold water tank to your hot water tank. Smart idea for hot countries.

Water is the easiest medium from which to take heat or to which to give it (thermal capacity, conductivity, stirrability etc). A heat pump is the ideal way to transfer Thermal energy Energy at one temperature in one medium to a higher temperature in another medium.

Note: This would NOT work in England or temperate climate - the incoming cold water is about 12º because it has been in the ground, and you would not want to reduce it to 8º.

In hot countries, including California, water pipes in the ground are bringing in the cold water at as high as 26º in summer, and there is plenty of energy available if you can reduce that to 12º and transfer the energy to a hot water tank. In hot countries, winter cold water comes in at about 12º and so there is nothing for the device to do in winter - other methods are needed.
In our household, the ratio of Hot water to Cold water consumption is about 1:3, and that would be more like 1:4 if we had shorter hot pipe runs and better pipe insulation. So, there could be a decent sized body of cold water to take energy from if you have a correctly sized tank.

Questions about it could be....
1. If you run the taps and have to remix with cold, what is the benefit? Well with a heat pump, you normally heat a HW tank only up to 51ºC, so you never need to mix it with cold for washing, showering, bathing etc.
2. Where does this ratio of 1:3 come from? Well a large amount of your cold water usage is in WCs, or in cold water rinsing of vegetables or crockery.  (Garden sprinkling should be done from waterbutts!!!)
3. Could you do it at Peveril solar House? We don't live in a Hot climate!, but if we did, it would require an investment in a large hot water tank (with an inner coil) to contain the incoming Cold water, and circuit design similar to what is going to the existing Sunbox could do the rest. Whenever the CW temperature was higher than 12ºC, it would transfer heat across.
4. What do user of this system do in winter? Well, if you have made the investment in a heat pump, you could use a normal ground loop for the remaining time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Updated presentation on Thermal Modelling

3 April 2013: I have done a new presentation about the Thermal Modelling project that was done last Summer. This is for the CIBSE Technical Symposium of April 2013, in Liverpool. It is better explained than the one I did for Vancouver last September, with an additional winter's worth of data and images. Enjoy!

http://issuu.com/dnicholsoncole/docs/cibse_april_2013_ppt_dnc_73_notes?mode=window&viewMode=singlePage

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