I guess it's time for a little update on the Engineering side...
Yesterday I got to play with 800℃ ovens, and expansion graphite! :-D One of my projects is a Chemical Heat Pump - a device that takes waste heat from something else (like an engine) and uses it to produce more useful heat (hot water, etc). The expansion graphite, when mixed with a couple other things, promotes heat transfer inside the system. My boss and I expanded the graphite, and then sent it off to another company to do the washing and mixing.
We put just a couple teaspoons-full of the graphite into ceramic bowls (about the size of a small-medium mixing bowl). The graphite just looked like you took out your pencil lead and crushed it. Then we put the bowls into the 800℃ oven for about 10 minutes. When we took it out, the graphite was overflowing from the bowl! It was incredibly light, though...half a cubic foot of it, or so, weighed only about 25g.
Aside from playing with ridiculously hot ovens, I am also analyzing data that was recorded during a test run of the chemical heat pump. Pressure, temperatures, flow rates...all to figure out how much energy we can get out of the system, and how to maximize it!
My other project is the Top Runner Grill - a fish grill that we are analyzing and trying to maximize efficiency for. It's kind of on hold right now...but I think we're doing a demonstration of the new combi-cooking system in a couple weeks.
There is a product available that cooks food using only superheated steam. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to heat up and be ready to operate, so Osaka Gas is developing a combi-cooking grill. A combination of natural gas burners, and steam. Cooking with steam has great health benefits - When the steam enters the cooking chamber, and comes into contact with the cold food, it condenses onto the outside of the food. The food gains the heat that the steam had, which is what heats and cooks it. But when the steam condenses, it pulls out extra fat, grease, and salt. Then as it drips off the food into the tray below, it takes that with it. However, the steam doesn't pull out (and may even lock in) Vitamin C, and the coenzyme Q10, among other things. I've seen some pretty neat results from tests comparing the grill method, the steam method, and the combination method.
Speaking of work, it's starting now...but there's a little update as to what I do all day, every day!