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Tree-powered fire sensors
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:44 am    Post subject: Tree-powered fire sensors Reply with quote

I just wrote this up for Slashdot, but I thought I'd post it here too.

The U.S. Forest service plans to test a network of tree-powered fire sensors, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Electrical potentials arising from a pH imbalance between the tree and its surroundings slowly charge a battery, allowing a small humidity/temperature sensor to periodically zap reports back to solar powered weather stations, and thence via satellite to the Forest Service. The sensors represent the first practical application of work published in PLoS One last August. Voltree Power, the company developing the technology, expects that applications might be extended to security or climate research. The Forest Service tests are scheduled for next spring.

No word on whether the Forest Service will set up a massive VR simulation to persuade the trees they're not being used as batteries. Just as well -- I'm not sure I want to find out what Deciduous Neo would be like. ^_^

Edit: Crud, I forgot to turn the URLs into bbcode. Meh.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's so awesomely elegant.
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Tyris



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They're not ch'hala trees, are they?
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electricpanda



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So you can use trees as batteries, eh? Imagine combining that with that tree house...
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JackAce



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, pretty soon Power Companies are going to purchase large patches of forest to wire up..? Rolling Eyes
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Last edited by JackAce on Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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Asa



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At least that'll stop them from tearing them down...
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JackAce



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or it'll lead to a new round of range wars between power companies and lumber companies... Laughing
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One tree is good for about one volt. So that's enough to run a low power sensor intermittently, but you'd need something on the order of two or three forests to power a town. Plus all the added problems of figuring out how to wire up all those trees.

Still neat tech, though. ^_^
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sunshine



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yea, but just think of how many health points you earn for each of your civ's cities when you don't cut down any of the nearby forests! Razz


Nerdiness aside, that's some pretty darn nifty tech. Though I gotta wonder at why they're always so danged keen on keeping forests from burning... it's a natural part of the cycle, not letting them burn only sets you up for worse fires that are harder to control/contain in the future
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice. ^^

I agree with Sunny though - there are many plants (such as long-needle pines) that just don't grow without fire. Confiers mostly - it takes heat to pop out the seeds. It's natural and healthy. The only thing that's not is letting the undergrowth get too dead - then you've a problem. If they're worried about losing trees, some are inherently protected against fire, to an extent. Though, I suppose if a huge bit of forest suddenly burned, people would move in and start building.
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sunshine



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@ Tinu - My concern is with the national forests, the ones that are protected from development and such. People go too far into the extremes trying to "protect" these places... like when Bambi first came out, and people's response to his mom getting shot was a public outcry demanding deer hunting be banned. So it was, and in no time deer populations in many parks became so inflated that there wasn't enough food to support them and they started starving to death instead.

Wildfires in developed areas, however, I do think could benefit from this kind of tech. If humans have chosen to build houses and shopping centers in an area, then obviously they're not going to want the area going up in flames. On the same coin though, I think it's also a human responsibility to make sure that underbrush and such are properly cleared, since the maintenance can't be done by natural means anymore.
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

True true.
@ the deer tale - that's the problem I keep seeing; people want it all one way, they fail to keep balance. I don't particularly like hunting, but since we've killed off a lot of wolves, it's needed to keep populations under control.
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Grimwatch



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, thats some pretty impressive tech, and one that little ol NZ should look into - we dont get as many forest fires as the US seems to, but then a fire on the scale on one of the bigger ones to hit recently would pretty much wipe out most of the native forest here. I'm fully in support of any *cough* green ways of creating power.

On a side note, were't we always using trees as fire sensors? Y'know, like "Hey, that trees on fire! Forest fire!"
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well yeah, but before the tree couldn't call up and say "OMG!! I'm like on freaking fire here, this totally sucks, send water quick, omg omg omg!"
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electricpanda



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sensors around the periphery of settled areas, rather than just out in the wilderness at random, would be smart.

You could also use them to help power smaller, rural towns, if they're near a forest...
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