Gravity-Buoyancy Engine? ... How ideas grow from simple to complex.
When trying to develop new stories, ideas come and go about the characters and motives but all must conform to place. Environments, novel or not, need to be thoroughly investigated and in many cases lead to questions that lead to even more questions. Through trying to resolve fictive issues, we must reflect on what is real and speculate in flights of fancy. Sometimes, these lead to practical concepts and other times to the whimsical.
In the last few weeks while working on submissions for a kid’s TV network and revising another project, an idea kept spiraling in the back of my consciousness. I’ve wanted to create an entire alien world and set it with characters with a diminished capacity for tribalism that seems to beset so many alternate fictive worlds. The factionalism is, of course, manifested in such fictive worlds because it is allegory and we see the nascent society torn asunder by power-plays, so we can reflect upon our current primitive behavioral exchanges. Oops, sorry. Not going to begin a tirade on theme and socially constructed institutions. Let me get to the point.
So, I am going to create a story world called Avalon. I’m sure all of you familiar with De Troyes and Arthurian tales get he reference. Avalon will be set on an alien planet, a water world, with more gravity and a denser atmosphere. Human inhabitants will be descendants of space travelers and they have adaptive genetics, which allow them to rapidly evolve. Some people will have wings and fly in the thick atmosphere as other could have gills but I haven’t worked out the details yet but genetic reversion is possible to a primary human form. Other big thing is Avalon is a city that is based on icebergs. Only a portion bobs up and sticks out of the water as most is below the surface because with a thicker atmosphere I surmise more heat is retained from the solar radiation and thus the storms would be powerful, which bring me to the problem. They would need a renewable source of power protected from external elements in the atmosphere so I thought of combining a waterwheel and submarines with turbines to create a Gravity-Buoyancy Engine that is all under water.
One submarine would be connected to what would look like massive Ferris Wheel squashed into an elliptical form and would utilize gravity to pull down this submarine when the negative buoyancy is created by compartment flooding. Then, there is another submarine connected to the wheel in an offset position that would utilize buoyancy to raise itself in the water column. So while one descends, the other rises and will compensate for loss of momentum when reaching horizontal position on the wheel (12:00 and 6:00 on a clock face). The dual forces would allow it to drive to the point where it could rotate either up or down and begin its descent or ascent again. The crank just keeps on going. A stone sinks and a bubble rises.
Buoyancy would be controlled by electric pumps just like in submarines today, or electrolysis could also assist and separate the water into gases to provide a lifting force. There would also be external fan rotors attached to the dorsal section and pointing to the nose so when the submarines rise and fall in the water column, the fans spin and drive a turbine to create electricity for the pumps. The blades would never need to be adjusted for angles of attack this way. All electricity will be stored in a battery until needed and the most stress really only comes when pumping the water out. Flooding the compartments is a fairly passive endeavor. The submarines would drive a the massive underwater wheel that’s connected to a drive shaft that has a series of differential gears that connect to the city of Avalon. The wheel could be also more like a bicycle chain with two axis of rotation at the north and south points. The primary point of connection would enter the submerged areas of the city. If air pockets were needed, then the city could have bays. Just extrapolate and let what is, inspire what will be. Onto other dangling issues.
The wheel would need to be secured to the ocean floor but perhaps a series of weights could provide stability if not tethered.
I also thought of a different idea with weight/counterweight-gravity/buoyancy drive that was vertical/linear in the water column. It would be attached to a horizontal pulley system, which would capture the energy and drive a transmission crank shaft sort of like a saw blade going back and forth motion. It would in effect be the same premise but the directional force would alternate. I surmise a constant single direction of force would be better, so that’s why I went with the horizontally compressed Ferris Wheel model. I assume the actual length of the wheel’s circumference would be about three miles with one and a half mile descent and one and a half mile ascent so the mechanical force from the fan rotations would have enough time to charge the batteries in the submarines to work the pumps. Of course there would be an initial charge from photo-voltaics on the surface along with wind turbines. The reason for not relying on wind and solar alone is because of the weather changes and would not be constants.
My question is, has this been developed? I can’t find any information on such a device. I’m probably not using the correct terminology because it seems too simple an idea to not have been done. I mean gravity isn’t going to falter, neither will buoyancy, and to combine them as opposing forces to drive a turbine just seems logical. It’s basically using two submarines connected to a massive waterwheel made from a bicycle chain and crank system where the rotational energy drives a shaft at the apex pivot point that’s near the submerged area of the city where a turbine is connected from the inside. I do wonder if this could be done on a smaller scale on Earth. We got oceans and all the technology to make it happen. It’s renewable and batteries are getting better at storing energy to drive the pumps.
In conclusion, this is an example of how ideas form for writers in streams of conscious speculation piqued by the subconscious. Theme drives characters and the world they inhabit. Every system has a certain amount of rules. Apply universals to details and know all settings include problems. Figure out the problems and they will lead to solutions… and more problems… in perpetuity.
Sorry for the informal rant but I just needed to get this off my chest. I hope Gravity-Buoyancy engines really exist.