166: Makes Our Heads Spin – Toroidal Propellers

Matt and Sean talk about the buzz around toroidal propellers and the ever evolving research.

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, Why is this Propeller Getting So Much Attention?: https://youtu.be/UzYHO4tksTc?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi7uzySCXq8VXhodHB5B5OiQ

YouTube version of the podcast: https://www.youtube.com/stilltbdpodcast

Get in touch: https://undecidedmf.com/podcast-feedback

Support the show: https://pod.fan/still-to-be-determined

Follow us on Twitter: @stilltbdfm @byseanferrell @mattferrell or @undecidedmf

Undecided with Matt Ferrell: https://www.youtube.com/undecidedmf

★ Support this podcast ★

On today’s episode of Still To Be Determined, we’re gonna be talking about the latest buzz around propellers. Oh, Sean, thank you. Thank you. My name is Sean Ferrell. I’m a writer. I wrote some sci-fi i some stuff for kids, including the soon to be released a month from now. Basically middle grade adventure novel series.

Which starts off with the sinister secrets of singe. Look for it in bookstores near you. But enough about me. I’m also here with that Matt of undecided with Matt Ferrell. You all know him from his discussions around new technology, and today we’re gonna be talking about his latest episode. Matt, how you doing today?

I’m doing good. How about you? I’m doing well. I’m enjoying the fact that you and I basically decided to dress like clones brothers. So those of you who are watching us on YouTube and think, well, the only way I can tell these two apart is one of them has a little bit of fluff on his head and has a room behind him.

Yeah. Those of you who can’t see us are probably thinking. This is all just some mad joke. It’s not, Matt and I do this from time to time. We live hundreds of miles apart, but we like to dress alike. Yep. It’s not intentional, but it does happen. Yep. Before we get into today’s discussion, which is about propeller technologies and their evolution to reduce drag and create more efficiency, wanted to share some thoughts about.

Are more recent episodes like this one from episode 1 65, which is our discussion about large wind turbines. This comment from Kathleen Tucker stood out to me. She wrote, I’m an avid follower of both your alternative energy video channels and have been interested in the subject for around 45 years. So she’s a recent hop on.

You share a lot of information on mass energy, but I would like to know what simple ideas might help people who are moving into their tinier structures. I saw an old newspaper article from the 1930s about folks using their wood stove chimney to heat water by wrapping copper tubing around the stove pipe.

I know many people are still stuck on the idea that houses have to be boxy and everything has to be new. But I’m a dome home and Quonset hut fan. Are these more energy efficient, in your opinion? So interesting question from Kathleen, and I introduced it for two reasons. First, I thought be an interesting conversation starter.

The other reason being it’s comments like this. Kathleen, thank you for weighing in with this. But yes, this kind of comment is often a jumping off point for Matt on his main channel. So these kinds of ideas that Kathleen is sharing. Might show up in a future video and just for me, yeah, I really like the idea of visiting suggestions for home efficiency from the 1930s.

As a topic. Yeah. For a, for a channel, uh, for your video. I think it would be very interesting to take a look at what were some of the suggestions in the 1930s for how to double dip on energy usage in the home. Yeah. And do any of those still make sense today? Because like, she points out the idea of wrapping copper tubing around your stove pipe.

That’s brilliant. Yeah. I mean, the idea that somebody in their kitchen could then have access to hot water, to clean dishes or whatever. I think that’s, I think that’s so funny there. So there could be a really, anyway, there could be a real fun video

around like top 10 craziest things that people are doing in their homes to try to be like double dip.

Yeah, because like I’ve, I’ve heard from several people that have created contraptions to capture the heat coming off the refrigerator to reuse that. Really it’s like, it’s just like little ingenious things that people are doing in their homes and also the dome home, all those kind of things that probably is worth video on itself.

Uh, on the channel I. Like exploring other unique building designs and how efficient they are and how well they work and why don’t we see them more often? Yeah. Well, Sean and I grew up in, outside of Rochester, New York, there was actually a house. Do you remember this one, Sean? It looked like it was volleyball.

Yeah. Yeah. It was in the middle of trees on giant stocks, and it looked like little UFOs, like mushroom caps on top of giant stalk in the middle of like a little wooded area. And it was the coolest looking home, and I always thought, That’s gotta be hard to like decorate and put furniture in because it’s just a ring of windows.

Like there was no walls. Yeah,

so it’s like a round house. I know the house. You’re talking about house. I thought you were starting to talk about the one that was a dome home. Do you remember that? Yeah. There is a dome home too. Yes.

Yeah, there was a dome home there too.

Yep. Those were some home homes that stuck out, like sore thumbs in the suburban nightmare that we lived in.

So as to her question. Yeah. What do you think about these various things? Were these, are these basically, Her question ba basically is spurring you on to think maybe I should look into that or do you have thoughts right out the gate? I may do

have some initial thoughts. Um, dome homes and, uh, the, the hut that she was describing it, like the dome home is just like a half sphere on the ground and the other one’s kinda like taking a tube, cutting in half and laying it down.

And there’s some benefits to the way they create kind of like convection currents. That makes it very efficient. It makes it feel very comfortable throughout the house. They’re really good at, uh, absorbing solar energy for kind of like natural heating and stuff like that. I’d have to dive into it deeper, but I don’t know if they’re necessarily just more efficient on their own because I.

It really depends on how they’re built, what kind of insulation you’re putting in, thermal bridging, all those kind of things come into play no matter what style house you’re building. So I’d have to dive into it deeper, but those homes do have a reputation for being efficient. But the cons are what I brought up before of like if you’re living in a half sphere, it makes it very difficult to kind of like configure it.

Because all the walls are rounded and all that kinda stuff, so it’s like, it does make it a living challenge. But far as energy efficiency, they’re, they’re supposed to be very, very efficient, but I’d have to dive in more and it might be worth of a, a video.

Yeah. Yeah. There’s the constant tension between efficiency and livability when it comes to home decisions, and when it comes to a dome home, you don’t have to have a high degree in.

Physics to understand that you would have better energy efficiency when those upper corners of rooms don’t exist. The slope of a dome shaped. Building is going to keep your heat and your energy in the living space where you are actually physically standing as opposed to losing heat to every corner.

The problem is, I always go back to Luke Skywalker trying to stand up and Yoda’s hut banging his head every time he turns around because it’s not a shape that is necessarily conducive and for those places where the slope may be. Taking away from actual livability is not, is not a positive. So, yep, it would be an interesting topic for a video.

I also wanna share this comment from Barbara who wrote The fact that offshore wind could literally supply most of the world’s energy needs is just plain mind-boggling, especially. The fact that it’s not in the distant future, but soon reminds me of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Hoover Dam and how that turned around power generation for an entire, how that turned around power generation for an entire generation of the US after the Great Depression, these giant turbines could do that for a new generation.

It really is interesting how this is slipping, almost slipping in under the radar in the public consciousness. These are huge. No pun intended. Changes in power generation that we’re seeing pop up around the globe in some cases just kind of mystifying. When I recently was driving along a New York State highway and saw on the distance, giant wind turbines over the, the hills that were to the one side of the highway and thought, huh.

As opposed to, oh wow. So do you see stuff like that, Matt? As you do the research that in some cases you are wondering why the splash isn’t bigger? Yeah. Media-wise,

yes. I, I see that all the time. The other thing is like, this is all happening behind the scenes and most of us aren’t aware of it happening at all, like you pointed out.

So it’s like the US is renewable energy is growing by leaps and bounds every year. It’s getting bigger and bigger. But we don’t know that in our houses we’re still plugging in our iPads and charging up our phones and living our lives like we normally do. And it’s, you don’t realize that your power is getting cleaner and cleaner each year.

It’s different from when you’re talking about residential Soval something residential solar versus like grid scale wind power, because that’s kind of like out of sight, out of mind for a lot of us where if you’re in your neighborhood, you see your neighbors get solar panels, it’s very in front of you.

So you see that trend growing. But when you’re talking about wind power, Incredible potential and like what’s actually happening. You rarely hear about it. Oftentimes you do hear about it when it’s the, uh, NIMBY aspect of you’re not gonna build that turbine in my backyard kind of argument, which has happened a lot here in uh, New England with, uh, the wind farm, they’re trying to build off the, the coast.

There’s been mm-hmm. Like a decade long battle over that because it’ll ruin the, the viewing of the ocean, even though they’re gonna be so far out in the ocean. There’ll be little tiny things off in the distance. You’re not gonna really notice them much at all. But people don’t want that. So typically the media focuses on the negative aspect and not on the, the positive gains that are happening.


And complaints about ruining the view. Yeah. I mean,

But there’s also, there’s also environmentalists that are arguing that it’s, yeah, we don’t know what it’s gonna do. The sea life, it kills birds. So there, there are arguments that are being used to try to push that back, which is part of the reason there’s.

Pushback from different groups. It’s not just an eyesore, but on the media here in New England, the eyesore aspect of the argument was the one that was always like on the news reports, whenever they would talk about like, you know, why it’s being delayed. And it was like, really? Is that the only reason that people are complaining?

Yeah. But it was just all, that was what was bubbling up

in the news. Yeah. I like the idea that if something didn’t exist when I was younger, Mm-hmm. It shouldn’t stand in the way you think about like if you put those things in, if they have no other impact in any way that’s negative and I’m not claiming that they do, and I’m just saying let’s have a mind experiment.

I. Let’s pretend that these have no other negative impact. That’s just a change in the view. Yeah. A hundred years from now, you’ll have people growing up and saying like, don’t take those down. Those have always been there. Yeah. It’s,

well, the, there’s also the, the arguments. Also sometimes boiled down to, can we pick an option that’s less bad than what we’re currently doing?

So the argument of, please don’t build those word wind turbines there because it could affect a small percentage of birds. It’s like, well, how many birds are dying be right now because of all the pollution we’re spewing into the environment and the oil spills and the other issues we’re having where if we go to wind, that all goes away.

So it’s like you have to kind of weigh the pros and cons. There’s no perfect solution. We’re just trying to do the best we can with the options we have in front of us.

It’s a little bit like wanting to get across a snowy field, but not leave any footprints. You’re gonna have an impact. Yeah. It’s, it’s one of those things that we, as we, as you know, people, I, and I consider myself an environmentalist.

I consider myself a pro sustainability advocate. And yeah, I also look around me and you see, if you go for a walk through any natural habitat, you’re gonna see animals. That are having an incredibly negative impact on their environment, and they do not have any ability to avoid that. Ants will kill a tree in building a nest.

They have an impact on their environment. It’s on a small, small scale, so it doesn’t come up as a problem, but they do have that kind of impact. We cannot live on this planet without impacting it in various ways. It’s about mitigating that impact. Mm-hmm. And picking, as Matt just pointed out, the path of least disaster.

And again and again, we’re finding that there are forces in play that are not trying to avoid a bad impact. They’re just trying to maintain the status quo because of some economic ability on their side to benefit from it. So yeah, there are forces at play saying like, no, no, diesel and big oil is really the way to go.

Not because of, you know, those wind turbines are killing birds, but because like, That’s something about their pocketbook. So, but talk about making a splash. On today’s episode, we’re gonna talk about why is this propeller getting so much attention. Question mark. This is the episode from May 2nd, 2023, and it’s about the development of a new style, multiple styles, actually, because there was some independent research that led to similar conclusions on two different fronts around propeller changes.

And it’s having an impact on research that is both water-based and. Air based and mm-hmm. These are both fluid dynamics. It does not matter that it is one is in the air, but the discussion in the comments seemed to be around a lot of the things in your video, people pointing out that some of the claims you were making may have, there may be some disputing over definitions and disputing over impact.

In the real world. And I, so I wanna start this conversation with, uh, just a general question. You’re talking about something that is still very much in the lab at this point. Oh yeah. Yes. Yes, this has had this conversation before about other subjects where you make a video and you say, here’s what the scientists are seeing, and the immediate response is, that can’t be put on my car.

And so I want to give you the opportunity to say like, okay, what sort of timeline do you think realistically we’re looking at before this ever becomes something that’s put into

practice? Well there, there’s two things I kinda wanna point out that did not come across clearly in the video. And this on me completely my fault.

One was some of the word choices I, that were in the, in the script that I should have caught before I recorded it were the way I talked about like the efficiency gains. The way I worded it was kind of unclear. They’re not unclear. It was, it was accurate, but easily interpreted in a incorrect way. And so, like when I talked about the a hundred pri 105% efficiency gains, Some people interpreted that as me saying it’s 105% efficient, which is not what I said or meant.

So it’s like it’s, it’s improved by 105%. It’s not 105%. So there was aspects of some of the wording that was off. And then on the flip side, the motivation of this video was look at the crazy cool engineering that people are exploring to try to make. Propellers way better. And I even brought up in the video, this is actually not new, like this has been going on for decades.

People have been playing

design, I would argue Propeller Designs has been going on for hundreds of years. Yeah, hundreds of years. I would argue. So people have, ever since people invented propellers, people have been like, is this propeller doing everything I wanted to do?

Right. But like you were saying earlier in the conversation of like, this is the way I know how things are, so I should, so things can’t change kind of a attitude.

It’s like, When you think of a propeller, we think of a specific shape of propeller, and I was fascinated by this of like, These are radically different looking propellers than I’ve ever seen before. And it’s really cool to think how people are trying to evolve this for airplanes, for boats, for uh, you know, drones, all those kind of things.

And so that was kind of the, the real crux of the video, and I don’t think that came across as clearly as it should have. Yeah, because it was not about, These are available today, go out and get one. It was, look at what’s coming. Look at the, the thinking that’s going in and the fact that we can now 3D print these things and we can do stuff like this.

It means we’re gonna be able to iterate faster, try these things out in new ways that would’ve been harder to do in the past. So we may start to see this stuff happen more quickly and come out into the public more quickly. I can’t give you a estimate as to like when will actually, like when is the next D G I drone gonna come out and it’s gonna have one of these crazy propellers.

I have no idea, but it’s like there are propellers already on drones that are wild looking like they don’t look like what you’d think of a propeller. They look like they’re unbalanced, but they actually spin really well and they’re super quiet. So it’s like this kind of stuff is happening. I. In a more of an iterative, slow process, and what I focused on the video are the ones that are a little more radical to show where things might go.

So yes, I will, I will just, I will take the, I’ll take it on the chin and basically like should have made that more clear in the video to try to kind of get ahead of this argument. But I, I understand where people are coming from when they were like, You know, that’s not gonna be on my car. Kind of comment you were talking about.

It’s, it’s, yeah, I get where it’s coming from and so it’s like, but at the same time, that was not the point that was trying to drive home

the video. I also think it’s an interesting demonstration of the pace, and we talked about this, I believe just last week, just last week’s video. Yeah. About the speed with which evolution.

In this is taking place. Yeah. And by this I mean, I mean research, the first invention of a propeller and then the evolution of that propeller over hundreds of years. And I’m talking about propellers that would’ve been in windmills. You know, that’s a propeller. And so all of the researcher on that would’ve started as literally brute force research.

Mm-hmm. Somebody builds a propeller and somebody, the next door neighbor builds their propeller and they see something. That. They’re like, well, I think if I change a thing, maybe it’d be better. And so you’re basically making advances by stumbling forward. Like somebody builds a water wheel, somebody else builds a water wheel where instead of just flat slats, they actually build slats that look more like bowls, and they find that they get a lot more efficiency out of that.

And then all the neighbors start building bull shaped water wheels, like. That’s brute force that takes hundreds of years, if not decades, you know, on top of that to actually start moving forward in ways where people understand what’s happening. Then you get into the modern era in the contemporary setting, computer graphs, they’ll type all these numbers in and they’ll just see numbers coming out and they can tweak things and they never have to build the thing.

They’re looking at computer models and coming out with the ability to. 3D print various designs to then mm-hmm. Test in the lab in the real world before they’ve ever touched an actual object. They have an idea of what they’re gonna see. Yep. So we’re seeing now exponential speed increase to how this research will be conducted and the potential for change is much, much greater.

And I felt like that was the point of your video. Mm-hmm. The, yes, like look at the crazy changes that might be coming and the efficiencies that might be at play. And the efficiencies that you were talking about included everything from sound pollution to fuel usage. Mm-hmm. And. That I think is the, the standard by which to look at the, the video, but there was a lot of discussion around if these changes even do come out in the way that you described, would they actually be doing the things that you.

That you mentioned? Mm-hmm. There were comments like this from Eikonhorst who wrote, the thing you overlooked was that these propellers are indeed much more efficient, and as you show, especially at 3000 to 5,000 rpm, big container ships however, do not have propellers operating at these speeds because that is very inefficient and they run at about a hundred rpm.

So Toyota Propellers probably won’t help for that. Applications for drones, they are more quiet, but not more efficient. And I’m curious. I can understand what Icon Horse is saying about, okay, at scale of massive container ships, we may never see this change take place and I, okay, that’s fine. But then the efficiency for drones being more quiet, but not more efficient.

I wonder how you respond to that, because that doesn’t, to me, there’s a later response in that conversation from Kevin Reuters who says, if a propeller is me is more quiet, it means less energy gets lost to sound, hence, Props will be more efficient. That’s just how physics work. Yes, a hundred percent. So I’m curious as to like your response to all that, that that

is, that is exactly what we found, which was it.

It is, the drones are more efficient. So you not only will have a quieter drone, but you would have a drone that could like on the same battery pack run for a little longer in the same exact situation because it’s more efficient in how it’s using that energy. Less is getting lost. So the initial comment was not correct.

The other thing about the, the comment about how like the Shel marine propeller is optimized for that 3000 to 5,000 RPM and it wouldn’t work well for diesel. Yes, you are correct there, but at the same time, The saying, a propeller won’t work is wrong. You’d have to tweak it based on the application. And I, this is another thing that I don’t know if it came across clearly enough, but the tre propeller design for Shere Marine looked a little different than the toroidal propeller for the drones.

The M I T created. It’s toroidal propeller is a very broad kind of category of just that sweeping shape, but you can change that sh shape and adjust it for the use case that you’re designing it for. Like for any PC enthusiasts that are out there that build their own PCs and you’re buying case fans for your computer, I.

There are airflow design fans, and then there are static pressure fans. And when you look at them on the surface, they kind of look the similar. It’s, you know, similar. So if you, if you don’t know the difference and you just go to a store and just you pick up a fan off the shelf and you buy it, you may have bought the wrong fan because they’re slightly different in the way.

That that are designed cuz like if you have a radiator and you have a fan that’s supposed to push this air right through the radiator, you need something that has a high static pressure that can really force the air through that radiator flip side, if all you’re trying to do is move the air from the inside of the case to the outside of the case and you’re not really pushing it through anything you want airflow.

So you have a slightly different design. It’s the same thing for this. So that that propeller design that was meant for like these speedboats or yachts. Wouldn’t be what you would actually detach onto a Dutch gigantic diesel ship. You’d have to experiment with different designs of toroidal designs to see if you can find one that you can optimize for that hundred rpm.

So it’s. It’s one of those, again, this is super early days. It’s just initial designs. It was just showing what’s possible, but you can’t quite say that this design doesn’t work for X, Y, or Z because it wasn’t designed for X, Y, or Z. It was designed for a specific application. Yeah,

so I think it’s worth, I don’t kind of call that out.

I think it’s worth noting that, as you talked about, it occurred to me that in your framing, it would be critical to point out to your viewers that when you’re talking about. This, it is about the early days and about the value in continuing research. Don’t take something as. A given and therefore the best.

And therefore don’t waste your time looking at options. Right? So when looking at a giant container ship and the propeller and saying, well, it only moves at this rate, and of course those ships are are massive. So how much. How much impact can we actually have, right? In changing this, let’s not waste our time.

That’s not, that’s not the best approach. I think if, if nothing else, Matt’s video is about, Hey, we should continue to look at these things and figure out if this is in fact the best. And of course the physics might play out that. It is the best. It’s not maybe for massive containerships, maybe that propeller that’s been on there for 50 years is the best design, but maybe it’s not.

Yep, exactly. There was also this comment from Andrew Allen who wrote, hi Matt. I discovered this propeller a few months ago. I contacted someone I know in the electric boat industry. They told me they already knew about Sharrow had tested it extensively and found no noticeable difference in efficiency.

Huh. Such a shame as electric boats need all the efficiency gains they can get due to battery range restrictions. I think this is interesting. Yeah, I’m, I’m curious as to your response to that. I, I would love to

talk to that, that company that tested it out. I’d love to know why they think that’s the case.

And it ties into what we were just talking about. It’s like you kind of have to test these different things out for all these different use cases. There might be something the way that Electric Motors run the optimal RPM value that they run at. Maybe they’re not running at 3000 or 4,000 rpm, maybe they’re running at a slightly different rpm, so they’re not getting the big gains that you would expect.

This is, that’s fascinating. I

love that. Yeah. Yeah. So if you wanna reach out, Andrew, look for Matt’s contact information. You could probably shoot him an email through his contact information on his, on his main page. Yep. There was finally this one from Joe Po, who wrote, as always, Matt, your videos are informative and interesting at the same time.

You deserve props. Oh, yes. Well done Joe Po. Well done, well done. Well done. Hat tip to Joe Po. So listeners, what do you think? You can jump into the comments and let us know. Do you think that this kind of research adds value, do you think that like Joe Po Matt deserves props or like the other commenters, do you think that there’s something about the framing and arguments being made in the video that just doesn’t quite sit, let us know in the comments.

And as you’ve probably noticed by now, the comments really do drive the content of this show. They also help Matt. Inform his videos on undecided with Matt Ferrell, which is our mothership. Don’t forget, if you’d like to support the show, please consider reviewing us on YouTube, apple, Spotify, wherever it was.

You found this. Go back there. Leave a review. Don’t forget to subscribe and share us with your friends. And if you’d like to more directly support us, you can click the join button on YouTube or you can go to still tbd fm. Click the Become the Supporter Button. It allows you to throw coins at our heads.

We get bruises, they hurt, but we’ve got sav. The SAV helps things feel better, and then we make the podcast. All of these are great ways to help support the show. Thank you so much everybody for listening or watching, and we’ll talk to you next time.

← Older
Newer →

Leave a Reply