The steam was roaring through the pipes as we engaged the turbines. One and Three kicked in immediately, Two took a while to build up and Four lagged way behind as could be expected but it was turning over. For some reason Four was always a bit behind the others. We would have to check it closer after we got all the generators seated in and online. There could be a slight kink in the line or a design flaw that was causing this.
Watching the RPMs on the four turbines as they climbed higher and higher Jason displayed that lopsided grin of his, "I just LOVE these nice hot days! Makes people want to turn on their air conditioners."
Walking into the control room after lunch Horace Malcolm looked over at us and smiled himself. You have to know Horace to really appreciate the significance of that gesture. Horace is the type of person who only smiles at disaster or when he KNOWS he's about to REALLY piss someone off! Hearing that the Titanic went down, Horace would have smiled, the Johnstown flood, Horace would have smiled, the nuclear bombing of Japan, Horace would have laughed while smiling and here he was, SMILING!
"Your two senior partners just called," he said sarcastically. "We're selling 100% of our production and they want to know if we can bring Five and Six online. I told them that we should be able to shortly."
"HORACE! Five and Six are still being tested. They've just seated in and are still being adjusted and fine tuned, they're not up to production yet. Next they'll want Seven and Eight! They've been installed also you know!" I said sarcastically.
"As a matter of fact..." he smiled.
"NO! No WAY! Five I can probably give you, I'm pretty confident that it'll take a partial load, at least up to 50%, maybe up to 60%, Six is iffy, we're still doing major tuning on it. Seven and Eight are out of the question. They've been installed but that's all. They haven't even been bolted down, the bolts are only on finger tight. We haven't even started to check balances, calibration, load factors, harmonics or anything. Right now we're just letting them settle into place."
These were especially designed turbines and VERY heavy. You had to let them settle after being installed. If you tried to lock them down too soon, before they had settled fully, they could develop a vibration under a heavy load. A vibration would cause a fluctuation in the harmonics which could prove disastrous. A vibration alone, depending on how bad, could rip the generator from its pilings allowing it to beat itself to death against everything in here, taking the others with it in one big chain reaction. When the vibrations got to a certain pitch they began to hum, a harmonic. Something about the harmonic vibration made them even worse, they could feed off one another if you didn't stay on top of them. If all eight generators began to produce harmonics they would act like a orchestra playing its own symphony. However the music they played was DEADLY! On top of THAT all the live steam from all the severed piping it would rip out when it let go would cook anything or anyone that was left!
Horace stopped smiling. He turned those turrets he called eyes on me. "Place Five and Six online and Seven and Eight on standby. They want more power being sold and I told them we could do it. Do it NOW!"
"Horace Malcolm, under YOUR direct orders, AFTER being informed by your design engineers that the generators are unsafe as they are at present, that they are dangerous and that they are NOT ready for use, you still insist on placing them online, then so be it! Under protest and against everything that I have told you, you order me to power them up then on YOUR head be the results." All that prattle was for the Inquiry Board when they tried to blame US even after we told him it was unsafe.
Walking over to the control panel I turned on the water and then brought the mirrors for Five and Seven into position. After fine tuning the glasses I held down the starter button until the Tach showed the proper speed and then engaged it. Moving from one to the other I started all four of the idle turbines. I adjusted the settings and let them settle in a bit. I had them set at 10% as I checked over things.
I could already see a flutter in Seven and an even worse one is Eight. When I started to shut them down Horace stopped me. "They're within safety limits, let them run."
"Horace, look at this," I said pointing to the gauge. It was showing the slight flutters, the pulse monitors were showing the same thing only magnified and I pointed it out as well. Seven was bad, but Eight was much worse. While they were just within the limits we had set they were also only at 10% capacity, if they were increased at all they would very probably tear loose. "They haven't even been locked down yet, remember?"
"They're within safety limits, LET THEM RUN!"
That's the problem with cutting edge technology, no one wants to listen when you try to explain the limits. No one KNEW what the limits were, we were developing them as we went! I could already feel a harmonic vibration from Eight. Horace had book knowledge of this stuff but no real hands on experience, all of his experience had been back east on oil burning plants and even then it was inside, not the actual production. Jason and I had DEVELOPED it but he didn't want to listen to us when we told him NO after he had gone out on a limb and told the bosses he could do it.
"You know the operation of this station, MISTER Malcolm, I'm telling you that these generators are NOT ready, they're NOT safe. They still need weeks of work before they WILL be ready, they are dangerous, it's all yours now. You want to sow the wind, then you can reap the whirlwind, you asshole. You are going to kill everyone in this control room and I don't intent to be one of them. By the clock on the wall, the one we work from, it is 1:32 pm and I QUIT!" I said as I gathered my things. Jason was shaking his head and was two steps behind me.
"You two will never work in power production again! I'll see to that," shouted Horace as we closed the huge metal security door to the control room and walked away. The harmonic vibrations were less out here but I knew that Horace would increase the steam flow to both of the bad ones shortly. It would then be a race to see which one tore free first!
On the way out we stopped by the Security station where there was a specially designed metal box. Inside was a recorder that made a record of everything that went on in the control room, both picture and audio. There was also a recorder that made a record of the readings on the turbines, both actual readings from the gauges as well as from the pulse monitor. This was a repeater that magnified the original readings so we could see any fluctuations better. Changing the disks I took the records of our trying to stop Horace along with us as we left the plant.
So much for a dream!
Five Years Earlier
For years I had been tinkering with an idea for steam generated power. That was nothing new as it is used back east all the time. It was the method of producing the steam that was new, I wanted it to be solar powered. More electricity is used in the summer time to cool buildings, offices and homes than any other time. What if we could use the heat of the sun against itself? Use the heat to produce the electricity to power the air conditioners to cool the buildings!
We could take an eastern power station and remove the fire from the boilers. The water tanks, the steam turbines, the recovery system would all be the same, just the means of producing the heat would be different. I had read of offices in Japan where they had large tracking mirrors on the roof. The mirrors reflected the sun onto a huge bundle of fiber optic strands that took sunlight all through the office building.
My idea entailed the use of those same tracking mirrors to reflect the sun THROUGH a huge magnifying glass to intensify the light and heat, bringing the focal point onto an array of pipes holding the water. As the water was turned to steam it would spin the turbine and produce power just like now. That in a nutshell was my idea, I just hadn't figured out how to bring all the components together yet.
Gathering information on the tracking system for the mirrors was simple, I found it online. Checking some of the Steam Hobbyist online I found a power station as well. They even had a schematic of their little power plant to show how each component hooked together to produce electricity from steam. I used their plans and simply enlarged it, I just did away with the boiler to heat the water for steam.
Steam turbines I could find, developing a program to allow the mirrors to track the sun was easy, every step along the way was do-able IF I could find a large enough magnifying glass. The only people around that I knew of that might use something that large were the astronomers. I just had to find out where they
purchased their lenses for their large telescopes.
At our local Hobby store I checked some of the magazines they had on Astronomy. Like many hobby magazines in the rear there were many ads for different components, including lenses.
As I was checking out the man at the register was very friendly. "I see you're interested in Astronomy, any aspect of it in particular?"
With a brief laugh and a shake of my head I told him, "I don't know one star from another. I even confuse our own planets with stars I'm so bad. No, I just want some information on lenses and there are several ads in the rear of this magazine I thought I'd check out."
He looked at me strangely, "You don't know anything about Astronomy but you're buying a magazine on it for information about telescope lenses that you're not interested in?"
"While a hammer is DESIGNED to drive or pull nails you can use it to crush rocks, crack nuts and do other things where applied pressure is needed, right?" I asked him.
When he slowly nodded I continued, "What you're forgetting is that basically the lens of a telescope is really nothing more than a large magnifying glass! THAT'S what I want. Being used as the lens on a telescope is like cracking nuts with a hammer, a secondary but very useful job."
"You're talking about a big magnifying glass! Just how big do you want?"
"From my calculations I need one that is 36" to 42", larger would be better but I doubt I could afford one larger. It also depends on the degree of magnification. The higher the magnification the better."
"I'm going to lose a sale. That's not the book you want. In fact what you want isn't a book at all." Turning from me he called into the back room, "Skip, you done with lunch? I need you up front."
He was joined shortly by a young man who took over the register. Motioning me to follow him he led the way into the rear portion of the store to an office area where he sat down to his computer.
A few key strokes later he punched Enter and turned the screen. "This is what you need. This is the major supplier for all the telescope lenses for hobbyist. To save you some money you might want to talk with them about some of their seconds. Large lenses that have a minor flaw in them, a bubble or an impurity in the glass, a slight warp and so on. If the optics themselves are not what you're interested in it would save you a LOT."
"The last time you were in here you bought some magazines on Steam, now you're looking at Astronomy. Just what ARE you interested in, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Producing electricity from steam."
"It's done back east every day. What's so new about it and where does a magnifying glass come in? I don't remember a glass being used in any of their plants."
"Producing the ELECTRICITY itself is done every day, but not the manner in which I want to produce the STEAM! As a kid did you ever hold a magnifying glass over your skin? When you get the focal point down to its smallest it burns you. You can even set paper on fire from the heat produced at the intense focal point. What if I concentrated that same intense focal point on a pipe holding water and could I turn it into steam? Could I produce enough steam to then turn a turbine with the steam and generate power?"
"From the magazine on Steam I found plans for an oil fired, steam driven power generating model. Now I want to replace the oil fired boiler with a large magnifying glass and see if I can do the same thing."
"IF I can do that then I have to devise some type of 'regulator' to smooth out the flow of electricity so it stays within the acceptable power range. 110 volts, not 105 or 120! That's all minor however, I have to produce the electricity first. AFTER I produce the electricity, THEN I set up controls to regulate it."
Nodding his head as he listened to the explanation the store owner reclaimed the computer and after making a couple of selections asked, "Plastic or glass for the lens? At that size plastic would be about a tenth of the cost. I don't know if it's a factor but it would weigh a lot less also."
"Yes, but would it take the heat? I have no idea what the heat would be leaving the lens but it would have to be higher than the surrounding temp wouldn't it? By the way, I'm Bruce, Bruce Issacs."
"Waylan, Jason Waylan. Would the temperature really be that much higher? At the FOCAL point yes, but leaving the lens would it be raised? I don't really think so, it should increase but not more than a few degrees."
"What about the regulator you mentioned for when you begin to draw on the power you're producing?" he then asked.
"Mr. Waylan, FIRST I need to produce the power. After I get that going THEN we can look into how to regulate the power flow and so on. I don't really know that much about electricity, what I was thinking was a series of batteries that the generator could keep charged and I could draw from them as needed. Except for lights most of the draw would be for keeping the place cool during the daytime when the sun would be up. The only time we would have a problem would be on overcast or stormy days."
"Let me MAKE the juice and THEN I'll figure out a way to regulate it so I can use it," I chuckled. "However that should be part of the generator, shouldn't it? Wouldn't the generator already have a regulator or whatever you call it attached to it?"
"It should have I would think however I might be able to help you there. All kinds of people come through here and YES, even a Rocket engineer! However I know a couple of guys that work at the power plant that might be able to help explain what you need to regulate the flow once you start making the power. Would you like me to speak to them? I could get their names and phone numbers for you so you could talk with them later. I could just tell them that you're working on a steam generator to produce power like they use back east, I wouldn't have to go into detail on it."
"That would really help me, thank you."
Smiling largely the store owner replied, "One of the reasons I get into this business. I have a LOT of interests and this allows me to follow up on them through others. I help this one with a problem and then help that one. As I do I learn more about MANY different things. Would you mind if I check in with you from time to time on this? I think you have an interesting idea and one you might be able to make some money on. There are lots of places that are off the beaten path where people have homes, vacation cottages and so on where there is no power available. If you could do this and keep the costs down each one of them might be interested in something like this."
Grinning back at him I replied, "There you go! Trying to make something practical out of this crazy idea. Do you know you're the first person who has seen the possibilities for something like this? Everyone else I have ever mentioned it to just laughs. 'Right, YOU are going to make electricity from steam! Tell me another funny story, Bruce.'"
"I'm not saying you'll get rich off it but you could have some fun doing it and make it pay you for your time and expenses. That's the best kind of hobby to have, one that pays for itself. Pull that bee out of your bonnet, shake it until it tells you all its secrets and then use them!"
I laughed with him and then left after getting the website for the Lens Maker. That was how I met Jason Waylan. Jason was the oldest of six kids, when his father was killed in an auto accident he had to go to work to support the family. By the time the youngest was grown and had moved out he was doing too well to go back to school himself after seeing all five of his siblings got at least a High School education. His education came from haunting the library and reading up on anything that interested him. He was one of the best read people I ever met and could talk knowledgeable on many subjects. Even the subjects he was not well versed in his questions showed his inquisitive mind at work. Jase and I soon became good friends and later partners in this hair brained scheme.
He was the one who convinced me I also needed a 'scheduler' for the systems going into remote areas, the system we would install in the places that didn't have electricity already. None of the things I wanted to use the power for had to run all the time. The fridge only ran when the temp inside the box fell below a certain level, the air conditioner the same way. Which took precedent? Would it hurt to be a tad warm for another half hour or so while the food inside the fridge was cooled to the correct temp? This was something that I hadn't thought about yet. I knew that down the line I would have but by thinking of it now we could plan ahead. Turned out to be very simple really. We created a power strip with all the sockets wired in a series. The farther down the line the less important the power user was. If there wasn't enough power by the time it got to that plug then that item didn't get powered, simple. We sweated bullets coming up with a simple fix like that.
Now you might wonder about how I got that bee in my bonnet in the first place, it is simple really. I live in southern Arizona! It gets pretty hot during the summer time and the cost for air conditioning my home gets PRETTY expensive!
Jase and I decided to build and install the prototype at my place, on my roof. After we figured out how much all this was going to weigh I had a building contractor check to make sure my roof would take the load. We braced it a bit more to be on the safe side and placed the tracking mirrors, lens, steam pipes and the generator on the roof. We had pipe down to the tank holding the water with a second pipe that scavenged the steam and returned it to the tank. By being high on the roof there would be less trees, buildings and houses blocking the sun from the mirrors which allowed them to start earlier and go later.
That was a great way to learn about harmonics! If things weren't going well you knew about it in a hurry. It sounded like you were living INSIDE a drum when someone decided to beat on it! The generator not only had to be balanced but offset in the balance. It had to be balanced in such a way that the torque being produced by the steam causing it to turn was equalized.
We also learned about waste heat. BOY, did we learn about waste heat! The scavenger pipe returned any condensed water to the tank but it also returned the steam that hadn't yet condensed to the tank. This soon heated the water inside the tank to the point it was just below boiling itself. It took less and less heat to turn the water to steam so more and more were flowing through the pipes and producing power!
I soon had pipes leading to the swimming pool and to the spa. They BOTH became steam heated in order to cool the return from the turbine (power generator) from steam back to water again. Lastly we put on a relief valve that would open if the inside pressure built up too high. The first time it popped I nearly had a dark brown smell around me! It popped and emitted a high pitched whistle that went on for a while. As soon as it stopped I turn on the hose to refill the tank with cooler water.
Even powering the air conditioner we found there were times we weren't using all the power that we were generating. As this was on my own home and not some remote vacation home we had placed the power feeds from the generator between the power meter and the fuse box. We had to get another box to do this but that was what we had. When power was called for WE produced it first and if we needed more then it came from the power company. What we found out was that when we weren't using all that was being produced the excess electricity followed the path of least resistance by going back through the meter and into THEIR lines. This caused our dials to run BACKWARDS! The meter reader couldn't understand why we weren't using more power than we were until that fall when the meter really went into reverse. We were producing much more power than we were using and the meter was showing a lesser reading than it had the month before!
One other thing happened that they couldn't understand which combined to give the show away. We weren't complaining about the brown outs like many of the others in the neighborhood were. Late afternoons all those people come home from their offices, jobs, etc. turn up the air conditioner and turn on their electric stoves to fix supper. ALL that demand for power and there wasn't enough, at least for them. We stayed cool at the same time we were eating a nice hot, well prepared supper while others in the neighborhood were sweltering, fuming and eating either cold cuts or take-out.
Word began to get around. My neighbors began to make inquires, the power company began to make inquires and others did also. For the most part we ignored all of them as we worked to improve the design of the power plant.
The cooling system had to be improved so the safety valve wouldn't pop open losing all our steam. Larger holding tanks might be the answer or a multi-chambered cooling system. That would be the easiest to install as we could hook it into the existing system without being offline for very long. Use the first chamber more as a condenser to recover the water from the steam without it cooling too much. The higher the water temp the less it would take to convert it to steam. Also some way to channel the steam buildup back into the generator. If we could do that we could save energy and effort. Why cool the steam to water so we could heat it to steam again if we could channel it back through as the steam it was already.
We had proven that it worked, now to refine it so it worked as we wanted it to work, so we had control over it. That was the trick. It was also the whole reason for prototypes, to test ideas and correct problem areas. Once again Jason and all his contacts came to the rescue. He called one of his customers and requested he meet with us. We discussed what we were doing and the problems we were running into and asked him for suggestions on improving our system.
He agreed with our having a second tank but he suggested two feeds off it not just the one. One for the reclaimed water but one for the steam. From our number one tank a second line that trickled the recovered steam back through the system to be reused without reheating it. This was controled by a pressure valve. The higher the pressure in the tank, the more steam it allowed out. He also suggested a second generator hooked up in series with our first one. When the pressure and the temperature reached a certain point the second generator would come on line. This would increase the amount of electricity we were producing but it would also 'tire out' the steam faster. The steam was now being used twice, not just once so it would lose a lot of its energy and be easier to condense.
It was shortly after both of these suggestions were put into practice that we had some people knocking on my door. It seems the meter reader had reported the irregularities of our meter and our meter had been changed to one with a tracker on it. The tracker showed how we used power only late evenings and during the night but during the day time we were actually producing and turning back energy. They wanted to know how?
Instead of answering them I suggested that we meet at Jason's shop the following day and all sit down and discuss the matter. I wanted him there as well. Jason was a much better 'people person' than I was. I tended to let them get under my skin with some of their pompous posturings and attitudes. It always rubbed me the wrong way when they were going to be oh so generous and 'allow' me to do what I had already been doing, HOWEVER it would have to be within THEIR guidelines! Right, and pigs fly!
We explained without going into detail that what I was doing was using solar power and only buying power when I could not produce power on my own (nights or overcast days.). We dickered back and forth on the price of the power they would buy from me and what I would pay for the power I purchased from them. At first they were going to be 'generous' and accept my power and charge me for theirs!
"Excuse me, I realize YOU have nothing better to do with YOUR time but I do! If you want to come up with a realistic offer then I'll be willing to listen, until then you're wasting my time. Good day," and I got up to leave.
"Now don't be hasty Mr. Issacs. You have to realize that we have millions of dollars invested in producing power and getting it to our customers. We have to make a profit for the electricity we produce to pay OUR bills as well. This investment is in the plants, our employees, the very poles and power lines that bring electricity to your home."
"But that's the catch. You aren't bringing power to my home, I'm producing my own! It wasn't free for me either. It cost me several thousand dollars to construct the set up I have yet I'M supposed to GIVE you the fruits of my labor and pay through the nose for your's! I'll power up a series of batteries and use them at night before I'll do what you want. Any overage I'll be generous and pass on to my neighbors, I'm sure THEY will pay me for the excess."
"You can't do that!"
"You people amaze me! You say I CAN'T do something when what you mean is I SHOULDN'T do something or you don't WANT me to do something. I CAN do it as I have proven and I WILL sell my excess to my neighbors if you keep acting this way. It's MINE, I can do with it what I wish."
Turning to my friend and partner I told him, "You better be the one to talk with this... this person. He's already made me mad. He thinks because HE represents the Electric Company no one else knows anything about electricity. If you come up with something reasonable I'll go along with it. Mean while I'll be at home drawing up plans for a battery conversion system and then asking around for some additional customers for my excess electricity."
Jason called me about two hours later laughing. "You couldn't have handled that better if we had planned it. I could blame YOU for being pigheaded, stubborn and so on and make him come up with a realistic figure. You will be paying 2 cents a kilowatt hour more for their electricity than they will be paying you. That seems fair. I'll bet they pay you more for the next few months than you pay them!"
"You about ready to go online? I think we have the bugs worked out of the system and are ready to make the second one. You can set up the same deal with them for your excess," I told him.
With what we had learned from the prototype it didn't take any time to hook up the second one. We set up the two tanks to begin with to eliminate that problem and it took less than a month to get everything, get it hooked up and working. He also made the same deal with the Electric Company as I had.
It was shortly after that we had our second visitors. Again I set a time for us to meet at Jason's so he would be there. This time it was different. Someone was interested in our work and wanted to see if it would work on a larger scale! It would be small scale for a power plant but it would be a pilot plant. If it worked on the pilot scale then they would back us for an even larger one that would REALLY produce power. What they liked was the heat to produce the steam was free for the taking! They wouldn't have to build a dam to spin the turbines, purchase and ship coal or any of the other costly things. While the initial startup cost would be high so would the start up of any power plant. From then on however the main costs would be salaries of the people overseeing the system and maintenance, no additional fuel costs and so on.
Again Jason came to the fore! He called another friend who was a contracts Attorney. When it came time to put our discussion on paper he was there to protect our interests. Jason and I would be employees of the company to pay us for our expertise while we were also to garner 50% of any profits. The construction costs would be amortized over 15 years and profits would be considered what was left after salaries, expenses and mortgage payment.
The backers already had a piece of property which we leased for the purpose of building the power plant. That was our first mistake! Our Contracts Attorney wasn't as sharp as theirs or as slick. We ended up spending more in 'renting' the property for three years than the property cost them PLUS the zoning costs. Rental fees from us after the three years was all pure profit for them.
We caught them on the contractor they tried to palm off on us when we opened it to up to several other bids and we found his bid was twice as high as anyone else's. Some of their suppliers were the same way. We then had a meeting and discussed some of their shoddy practices. The understanding was that the next one we found where they tried to inflate costs, use substandard materials and so on that we were walking and would file a law suit on them for breech of contract.
I guess I'm not a business man but WHY would you come to a person, offer to finance their experiment and THEN make it more difficult and more costly for him to do what you wanted him to do in the first place? We didn't know if it was all of them or just ONE greedy individual that was causing it so we gave them the benefit of the doubt and continued after our meeting.
The lenses we purchased this time were MUCH larger and we bought four of them. We had them set up so that none of the four interfered with the one beside it. We also had the generators set up in series, when the temp in the recycle chamber reached a certain point the second generator kicked in so we actually had eight generators being powered from four lenses. We also covered the tracking mirrors with a clear dome so that we got the heat of the sun without the cooling of the surrounding air in the winter time. Granted it rarely gets cold here but still we wanted as much heat as possible. By using double pane glass and LOTS of insulation on the dome over the catch mirrors and their surroundings we did this.
We were such a success with our initial small plant that they tried to screw us again! By the time it got to this point both Jason and I knew steam power generators better than they did. We knew something was off when we started to pay attention to the returns that were coming in and they were a good bit lower than they should have been. So unknown to the money people and their stooges we placed a tracker on the line between the power being generator and where it left the plant. When we compared the results of our readings versus what the partners were 'saying' they were selling, we had just over a 25% "power lose". Granted it had taken us three years to find this out but we DID find it out and took steps. Our 75% was paying all the costs and then being split for the profits while the 25% they were skimming was pure profit for them. By the time we had all the facts and figures another six months had gone by.
We closed the plant and filed a law suit against each of the partners individually as well as a group. While they were scrambling around trying to get the plant back online we had hired an investigator to check into each of them and that's when we found out about the true owners of the property we were leasing, its cost and cost for new zoning. To make the cheese more binding we also went to the District Attorney for the county and showed him all our evidence and had his investigators look into criminal fraud and embezzlement charges.
Suddenly we were called in and were offered MUCH money to drop all charges and to sell our interests in the plant. First we figured up how much they had cheated us out of from all the skimming. To that amount we added a flat 15% 'Late charge Penalty' and to that we then added costs for 'pain and suffering' on finding out how badly we had been cheated by our partners and THEN we told them what we would sell our interests to them for. As the first figure was to recoup what they had cheated us out of over a three and a half year period it came to a VERY healthy settlement even before the added 15%.
We had to amend our tax returns for those three years to reflect the added income and show how we had been cheated out of it so they wouldn't penalize US for being cheated. This also got the partners in trouble with the IRS and the Arizona Tax Board for not declaring and paying taxes on the monies they had stolen from us. We had to pay Capitol Gains on the amount we received for our share in the company however even after all the dust had finally settled we came out of it with a million, five each. Not bad for a crazy idea that everyone had laughed at!
The pilot plant is still in operation and is still making money but not nearly the amount that was made when Jase and I were there running it. I wonder if maybe it has something to do with all the programs that I had developed to control the different functions? The programs I removed from their system before I left? They had NOT paid me for my development work nor for my programs so...
After looking around Jase and I found a place in New Mexico that looked perfect for our needs. It was in the middle of nowhere, open so that nothing interfered with the sun yet was close to a very large set of power lines. To make things even better it was on a hill which helped as even less could block our access to the sun. We found out who the owner was for the property and talked with him. After some dickering we gave him an option to purchase a thousand acres at a ridiculously low price. Who in their right mind would want to purchase land in that arid region?
We then contacted the power company who owned the lines near us to see if they would be interested in purchasing the power we generated. This time we hired someone to negotiate for us. Someone more knowledgeable than us who knew the ins and outs of the business.
With the property and the signed contract to purchase our generated power we were able to start to REALLY plan construction on our OWN power plant. Utilizing all we had learned at the pilot plant we sat down with a design architect and some engineers. After we had given the designers a rough idea of what we wanted we left them alone to see what they came up with. While that was happening I started working on another crazy idea. The large magnifying glasses were getting TOO large. Could we hook them up in series also? Have the concentrated beam or 'hot spot' of one shine on and be magnified by a second? Would this boost the heat more than a single large glass?
I set up two much smaller glasses and began to run tests. I needed controls on both to adjust the 'hot spot' but as long as the second glass WAS glass it would work. The heat was too much for the plastic lenses we had used. They really looked good on paper however it didn't transfer to actual fact. In other words, it didn't work!
The design called for the large 'barrels' leading from the roof to the first floor where the steam production would take place. The First stage power generators would be on the second floor and the Second stage power generators would be on the third floor. The light would be reflected from the roof down the 'barrels' into which was set the glass. Each 'barrel' had controls on it so we could adjust the glass to increase or decrease the focal points.
The turbines that we would be using were much larger than any we had ever been around also. They were more than four times the size of the turbines we had used in the pilot program and MUCH heavier. Even the secondary turbines were twice as large as our first stage turbines had been. We placed an order for two of each as soon as possible and two more of each at a later date.
It was about this time that we began to run into problems that we hadn't foreseen. The well for our water had to be punched much deeper than we had initially been told which increased not only the costs for our water but the time before we actually had the water onsite. Other costs were rising also, 5 percent here, 10 percent there and it was slowly eating away our investment capitol. Jase and I had incorporated and had each put up a million bucks towards this. It was running short and we were still way short of producing power.
The 'barrels' were up with the lenses installed. The mirrors were in place as were the controls for them and the lenses. The holding tanks, scavenger system, recovery system and so on were in place, what we needed were the generators so we could start balancing them after they settled in. That was time consuming more than anything else. First it took a week to ten days for the turbines to 'settle in' before we could clamp them down. THEN we had to make sure the balance was absolutely correct. This all took time and right now time was costing us a lot of money.
We had initially poured concrete pilings for the turbines to sit on until we received the first one. The weight that they had given us was inaccurate. They had NOT included the housing for the turbines! We had to rip out the pilings we had and start all over increasing the sizes for the additional weight. This added to the settling time as we couldn't place the turbines on the pilings until the concrete had dried and cured. This delay meant it would be longer before we could start to produce power and get some return on our investment. It also delayed producing some capitol for additional costs that we were planning to defray by using our income from the sales of the generated power. It DID allow us to correct the pilings for Three and Four before they were shipped however. The additional time for them to cure would be handy.