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Author Topic: Could you power the internet using steam?  (Read 943 times)
Charlie Knill
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« on: September 19, 2016, 06:14:49 pm »

Hello everyone  Smiley Earlier on I was talking to Capt. Arriana Regala who said to me 'I swear my internet provider's system runs on steam' which got me thinking. Could you actually power the internet using steam? I personally think that it is quite within the realms of reality to power the internet using steam by hooking up a steam engine to a dynamo to generate the electricity need to power the internet but I am interested in what you fellow Steampunkers think. Do you think that it would be possible to power the internet using steam? I am looking forward to seeing your responses  Smiley
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2016, 06:21:04 pm »

Well, given the majority of commercial electricity is produced via steam-driven turbines, I suppose you could argue that the internet (plus all other mains-powered applications) are actually powered using steam.

Yours,
Miranda.
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von Corax
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 06:23:19 pm »

In a sense it already is steam-powered. Virtually all thermal generating plants - oil, coal, gas,  nuclear or geothermal - use steam turbines to spin the generators. Some gas plants use gas-turbine engines, but I don't know how common they are.
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Atterton
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Only The Shadow knows


« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 06:35:53 pm »

Don't be stupid, of course you can't power the internet with steam. The internet is a series of tubes, it works on vacuum.
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Charlie Knill
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 06:40:31 pm »

Googled steam turbines and apparently since the 1980's they have been replaced by gas turbines and diesel engines. I did not realise that steam turbines were still being used to generate our electricity today.
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Charlie Knill
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2016, 08:20:34 pm »

Don't be stupid, of course you can't power the internet with steam. The internet is a series of tubes, it works on vacuum.

I am not being stupid Atterton. I appreciate that you seem to think it impossible to power the internet using steam but there is no need to start calling people stupid. Out of curiosity what are you talking about when you say that the internet works on vaccum?
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 08:29:23 pm by Charlie Knill » Logged
Atterton
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2016, 08:40:21 pm »

Sorry, that was not meant as a serious comment. It referred to this famous remark about the internet, as well as pneumatic tubes.

On a more serious note, a server can produce a lot of heat. However instead of a steam engine, it might be better using a Stirling engine for harnessing that heat.
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Charlie Knill
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United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2016, 09:06:48 pm »

Sorry, that was not meant as a serious comment. It referred to this famous remark about the internet, as well as pneumatic tubes.

On a more serious note, a server can produce a lot of heat. However instead of a steam engine, it might be better using a Stirling engine for harnessing that heat.

It's fine  Smiley Stirling engines apparently have a high efficiency compared to steam engines so your right in saying it might be better to use a Sterling engine. However a Stirling engine apparently operates by cyclic compression and expansion of air or other gasses (whatever that means) so while having a high efficiency when compared to a steam engine our question was whether you could use steam to power the internet and I don't think Sterling engines generate steam. You could also probably use a stationary engine hooked up to a dynamo to generate the electricity to power the internet but again the question is whether it would be possible or not to  power the internet using steam and stationary engines don't generate steam.
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von Corax
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2016, 09:13:19 pm »

Just in case that meme didn't make it across the Pond, here is A Series of Tubes from Know Your Meme, and an audio recording of part of Sen. Stevens' speech:
Series of Tubes
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Atterton
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2016, 09:24:23 pm »

Here is also a bit about cogeneration, which is sort of what we are getting at. Powering things by using their waste heat.

http://www.cogeneurope.eu/what-is-cogeneration_19.html
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Charlie Knill
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United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2016, 09:44:59 pm »

Interesting stuff  Smiley One of my friends has actually suggested to me about taking my idea and actually attempting to power the internet using steam but I think that would prove too much of a challlenge for me.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 09:49:42 pm by Charlie Knill » Logged
Charlie Knill
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United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2016, 10:00:22 pm »

The big showman's engines that used to be found in fairgrounds back in the day had a dynamo situated in front of the funnel which was used to gnerate the electricity needed to power the rides so the idea of using a steam engine to generate electricity to power the internet isn't as crazy at it most likely sounds to anyone who first looks at this thread. To be honest I may well have confused a lot of people with my talk of steam powered internet whereas in reality what I am talking about is using a steam engine hooked up to a dynamo to generate electricity to power the internet.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 10:09:19 pm by Charlie Knill » Logged
Atterton
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« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2016, 10:27:47 pm »

It should certainly be doable, I just don't want to be the guy who have to go into the server room and shovel coal when Netflix starts lagging.
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Charlie Knill
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United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2016, 10:46:47 pm »

It should certainly be doable, I just don't want to be the guy who have to go into the server room and shovel coal when Netflix starts lagging.

I could certainly see that being frustrating having to get up in the middle of whatever your watching on Netflix to have to go and shovel coal in to the firebox lol  Grin
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MWBailey
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« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2016, 12:18:45 am »

You mean, it isn't already powered by steam?
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rovingjack
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WWW
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2016, 03:02:07 am »

Could I power the internet using steam? Yes, yes I could.

However if what you are asking is, is it possible to power the internet using steam... then the answer is no.

 Grin
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Wormster
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« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2016, 07:29:06 am »

Are you interested in the WHOLE interntz? or just your own personal "bit" of it??

Sure the vast majority of our power is generated with the thermodynamic use of steam in large powerplants, your own individual setup could be steam powered, I mean Fred Dibnah had a workshop running off the stuff, but, as others have pointed put you'll spend more time shoveling "nutty slack" into a huuge boiler than surfing this place looking for ideas!
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Charlie Knill
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« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2016, 11:01:04 am »

Are you interested in the WHOLE interntz? or just your own personal "bit" of it??

Sure the vast majority of our power is generated with the thermodynamic use of steam in large powerplants, your own individual setup could be steam powered, I mean Fred Dibnah had a workshop running off the stuff, but, as others have pointed put you'll spend more time shoveling "nutty slack" into a huuge boiler than surfing this place looking for ideas!

I am talking about the whole internet not just my personal bit of it. As cool as it would be to power the internet using steam as other people pointed out it does have it is not the most practical way to power the internet.
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Kensington Locke
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« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2016, 02:01:17 pm »

the internet is a distributed system, so powering the whole internet (say from your house) isn't feasible due to the constraints of moving power from your house to China.

Furthermore, that would create a centralization issue which the design of the internet would abhor.    The internet was designed to be modular, such that any node could go down and the rest would continue.  Creating a dependency for power from Your House would defeat that design feature as now if Your House goes down, the entire internet goes down.
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Dr Fidelius
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Professor of Applied Paleontology, Miskatonic U.


« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2016, 05:18:44 pm »

Although the energy to power the internet could very well be provided by steam, I have trouble envisioning how steam could directly be used to modulate the aetheric vibrations in the ley lines which bring us the information.
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Wormster
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WWW
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2016, 05:26:42 pm »

Another thing: its going to be hard to maintain a high enough steam pressure to keep all the internet in its tubes, pushing all that info about, I mean you don't want HP steam leaking through the wall and into the parlor and messing with the house kraken do you?
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Cora Courcelle
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« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2016, 05:37:07 pm »

I always thought it was powered by magic; the spell to make it behave being: "Work you *!$£!%# or I'll hit you with a mallet".  (Spell must be said through gritted teeth and in tones of anguish).
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von Corax
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Prof. Darwin Prætorius von Corax


« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2016, 06:11:59 pm »

The tubes must be properly insulated, as well. If the tube gets cold, the steam slows down and the information it carries lags behind.

This is why the insulated wrapping on steam pipes is called "lagging."
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RJBowman
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« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2016, 02:58:42 am »

Googled steam turbines and apparently since the 1980's they have been replaced by gas turbines and diesel engines. I did not realise that steam turbines were still being used to generate our electricity today.

Does anyone have any idea what this guy is talking about?
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Dr Fidelius
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Professor of Applied Paleontology, Miskatonic U.


« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2016, 03:20:57 pm »

Googled steam turbines and apparently since the 1980's they have been replaced by gas turbines and diesel engines. I did not realise that steam turbines were still being used to generate our electricity today.

Does anyone have any idea what this guy is talking about?

No, but I must presume that he found a citation showing that newer power plants in a certain area or by a certain utility have had gas turbines installed rather than steam and therefore he believed that steam turbine technology was somehow obsolete.
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