Grid Tie and Induction Motors
Yes, I know it's nearly 3am on the east coast... but and idea struck me. So the idea is to feed small amounts of mechanical power into the power grid. Not necessarily run the meter backwards, but supplement power consumption.
I've researched grid tie inverters - which are very expensive. For those wondering, a grid tie inverter is feeds mains power back into the grid by syncing phase angle and phase (no dead shorts :) ) and applying slightly higher voltage. They are very efficient and really not within a college student experiment budget :p
So I was thinking... Rather than go from mechanical to DC to AC to grid - go from mechanical to AC to grid VIA an induction motor. As a proof of concept, use a DC motor + battery to turn an induction motor. Plugged into the grid, in theory, should apply current.
Oh, but the phase you say? How do you prevent a dead short?"
I've thought of this -- before applying mechanical power - have the grid bring the induction motor up to speed. Then try to turn faster (apply a torque) with the DC motor, for example. In theory, the amount of extra power put into the grid will be related to the slip angle of the motor - which will also control the speed of the input (so you can't go over speed by too much).
Keep in mind that this whole battery business is just a proof of concept sort of thing - I'm not talking perpetual motion or any hohaa craziness. In the end, the final mechanical input will be around 200 watts. I expect this to be very low efficiency (likely 50%ish), 100W isn't an answer to the energy issues - but it's an experiment. It's also not going to come even close to driving the meter backwards, but it should run (as supplement) my laptop + two to three 13w CFL's :D
I think the theory is feasible -- the inspiration comes from flywheel driven UPS systems. An induction motor is driven while mains power is on to keep a flywheel in motion. When the power goes out, the FW drives the motor and feeds to local grid.
I'm thinking of using a "low" rpm induction motor.... If I recall, ceiling fans are 16 pole? So that's 60Hz2*2/16=450rpm... Add ceiling fan motor to the list of things to hunt for :) Looking at the one above my head, it looks like it even has a nice bolt pattern for some sort of pulley shenanigans :D
Can someone either throw some ice water on me and slap me for being an idiot -- or let me know if I've found a boat to Valhalla.
Oh, and my apologies for dancing around the "mechanical input" details.... There's a reason for this, I promise :) In any case, insight and information is appreciated :)