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New Heat Pump Will Last 10,000 Years 191

formaggio writes "Most heat pumps maintain an average useful life of 10-20 years, but researchers at the University of Stavanger in Norway (USN) and the University of Oslo believe that they have developed a new heat pump that will last up to 10,000 years."
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New Heat Pump Will Last 10,000 Years

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  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:29PM (#35968250) Journal
    They guy at Best Buy will still try to sell you the extended warranty too!
    • by mrops ( 927562 )

      What about Efficiency? I did RTFA, couldn't find it, or it could be its time to go home and I missed it.

  • I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) * on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:31PM (#35968288) Journal

    An article about itty bitty peltiers? Do they come in white []?

  • The new heat pump is comprised of many miniature heat pumps, as small as one cubic millimeter, that can be arranged in an array to create a larger unit that can be tall and thin or short and wide, ...

    Or human shaped. Cue Replicator [] jokes in...three, two, one. (Seriously, that's what the photo in TFA reminded me of.)

  • Poor estimation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DanTheStone ( 1212500 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:33PM (#35968336)
    This is like the bridges built in the '60s that were supposed to last over a hundred years, but need to be replaced now. By the time they have to be replaced, the companies manufacturing them will simply no longer exist to sue and will have moved on to Carbon Fiber (the next 100+ year technology that won't last nearly 100 years).
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

      During the Vietnam War, Colt sold the M-16 to the Army with the promise that it would never need cleaning. And they were right. They just forgot to add the "unless you want it to keep firing" part.

      • Re:Poor estimation (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:58PM (#35968706) Journal

        Part of that problem, iirc, was the US Army going with a different, cheaper, ammo then intended during design.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by phayes ( 202222 )

          Why go ruin a superficial anti-military rant with facts?

          • Why go ruin a superficial anti-military rant with facts?

            Because this is slash... oh, wait. Nevermind.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            sounded more like an anti-Colt M-16 rant.

            funny how you think complaining that our troops were victims of a bait-and-switch is somehow anti-military. how did you even manage to reply on this thread? it must have taken you all day to mouth the words as you read it.

            maybe you meant anti-something-remotely-military-related, but to those of us who read and comprehend english at a normal level, it just sounds like you're retarded.

          • There were enough issues with the rifle other than the ammo problem, as anyone who researched the topic knows.

          • Isn't it more anti-military to say the problem lay with the military using cheaper ammo, than to say it lay with Colt for promising more than they could keep?

        • Re:Poor estimation (Score:4, Interesting)

          by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @06:07PM (#35969594) Journal

          Most of it was because it was designed only for firing and carrying specs and tested only in clean conditions.

          Jump into a couple of foxholes and you're disassembling the fucking thing to get the sand out from between the bolt and the receiver. Whereas you could shake an AK-47 clean in a muddy puddle and come up firing.

          If the ammo added problems, that's the ammo's problem. The M-16 was a weapon characterized by an occasional failure to fail.

          • > The M-16 was a weapon characterized by an occasional failure to fail.

            That's my favorite phrase for this week.

        • Re:Poor estimation (Score:5, Informative)

          by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @07:28PM (#35970288) Homepage Journal

          It's worse than that.
          Colt's M-16 was designed around a newer, cleaner burining rod type powder compared to the older ball type powders; but it also included a chrome barrel and integral cleaning kit in the stock. It was advertised as 'needing a minimal amount of cleaning'

          The Army testing team, being hostile to the idea of switching away from a .30 caliber rifle, had sabotoged Colt's acceptance trials. When McNamara found out, he basically ordered the switch to the M16, but they continued to sabotoge the effort, taking Stoner's 'self cleaning' comments to not issue cleaning kits even as they deleted the chromed barrel and substituted dirtier ammo.

          Basically, the M-16A1 was mostly just returning to Colt's original specifications.

          • by hitmark ( 640295 )

            In other words the military version of bruised middle management ego...

          • I can see this story can be spun many different ways, depending on which details you're presented with. Who decided to delete the chromed barrel and substitute the ammo? Was it still claimed to be "self-cleaning" after that?

        • by Onuma ( 947856 )
          They also failed to line the barrels with chrome-molybdenum. A lack of which tends to foul the barrel and chamber with copper, lead & powder residue much more quickly.

          There is no gun that "never needs cleaning". You may be able to push a thousand or more rounds through a modern day M16-A2/A4, but sooner or later it will foul and cease to cycle. The most I've fired without a thorough cleaning is about 1200, and that was in fairly unusual circumstances which didn't afford me the time to clean proper
    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Well they will last 100 years. You still need to do maintenance. It's like my house, it's 180yrs old. But it won't last another 5 if I never keep the maintenance going on it.

      • I am all for someone starting in on buildings designed so well that they don't need maintenance very often. As a point towards the possibility of this goal, it was only in the last few years that they've had to start blocking vehicular access through the aqueduct in Segovia, Spain--pollution and vibration from vehicular traffic was damaging it. It carried water up into the modern age but had sections destroyed in the Napoleonic wars. I'm sure it had some maintenance, but we could do with more designs like t
        • The problem is that we wouldn't know how to build something like that.

          In a small city in northern Portugal there was this stone wall (maybe 50ft high) that was erected during the Roman era. Several years ago part of it finally collapsed. So they decided to rebuild it. That bit collapsed within a year. I don't know what's happened since, but I suspect it involves concrete and rebar.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Rebar is the big problem modern construction. It gets wet, it will wick water from the outside. It expands differently from the surrounding material(leading to cracking from the inside). In days of yore it was an unknown, building materials + concrete mix where what was used to make it strong.

            As for not knowing how to do it? You're right. We're still nearly 2000 years behind in concrete construction and understanding how the romans did it, and did it well.

        • by jandrese ( 485 )
          You could build a house to last 200 years today if you wanted. It would cost considerably more than a regular house made out of sticks, but it certainly could be done. You also wouldn't be able to sell it for anything like what you paid to build it because nobody factors in the durability of the house very much when considering what price they would pay for it. Even if you did find someone interested, their bank would just tell them that what you're asking is grossly more than the equivalent (and they're
    • To be fair in the case of the bridges, they probably failed to account for increased traffic over the last fifty years and underfunding of maintenance by corrupt local governments. First one's the bridge buidlers' fault, the second one is the public's fault for only electing spoiled children to run local governments, but in either case I doubt it was so much as out-and-out fraud.

      • To be fair in the case of the bridges, they probably failed to account for increased traffic over the last fifty years and underfunding of maintenance by corrupt local governments. First one's the bridge buidlers' fault

        Not really. A bridge in the 60's may, or may not, have included a planner or planners. If it did, the traffic volume would have probably included a planner in the first stage, defining the traffic and thereby the cyclic loading. If not a planner, then there may have been an engineer filling the same role. If there was no planner, then it went straight to an engineer for preliminary design, then another (or possibly the same) engineer for final design, then the final design would have been presented for

        • It may have been the fault of planners, engineers, builders or even an incomplete understanding of the materials involved.

          I was just lumping all people involved in planning, design, and construction together as 'builders.' Whoever was supposed to plan for increased road/rail traffic didn't (probably, in some cases, so I assume, etc.).

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      well, the parts are probably ceramic and metal, no rubbers, lubrication or stuff like that. it's solid state(essentially)
      it seems like a small peltier unit. dunno why they wouldn't last for a loooong time. which makes this article seem like a blast from the past and these norwegian researches like total douches who haven't read science mags at all in their life. because then they'd would have thought that they would need to give us a bit more information on how this isn't just the same thing as any other pe

  • by svirre ( 39068 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:34PM (#35968346)

    Soooo this looks like a thermocouple or peltier element. What's new?

  • I just want a radiator belt that will last a thousand years.

  • 10,000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by swanzilla ( 1458281 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:39PM (#35968422) Homepage
    The 10,000 number was pulled out of the air for emphasis. From a meatier source []

    The miniature pumps will just continue to pump. We stick fans on them, and they must be replaced, but the heat pump itself will stay and be equally effective after 10 000 years," Bording continues.

    Misleading headline, both on this blog post and on the blog post that this blog post cites.

    • So, reading your quote it sounds more like Lincoln's ax than an amazingly durable machine. You might swap out every individual element over the course of 10 years, replace the fans once or twice, and the power supply a couple times, but by the summaries logic, it's still the same heat pump.

    • The link you provided does make it apparent that these pumps can also be used to produce electricity if the pump is placed between a heat source and a heat sink.

      Too bad these aren't being used more as part of processes cooling troublesome spent fuel, producing some electricity at the same time. Wouldn't it be great if these could enable an ultra-reliable alternative to backup generators? The article doesn't say if the material is hardy against ionizing radiation.

    • Probably was just not meant to be a factual statement, there's a lot of that going around.

    • by syousef ( 465911 )

      The 10,000 number was pulled out of the air for emphasis.

      It was pulled from somewhere with foul air where the sun does not shine.

    • Yeah, I kinda pegged that one for being pure bullshit. Unless they planned to build it out of pure platinum or gold and then build a really big pyramid over it and then kill off everybody on earth so that nobody steals it to melt it down. Otherwise, what metal has ten thousand years worth of staying power in a corrosive and often wet oxygen bath? There are a handful of metal implements more than 3000 years old, and an even smaller handful of metal implements that aren't corroded that aren't made of gold.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:39PM (#35968424)

    Solid state heat pumps exist already. It is called Peltier Junction. They are not used because their efficiency is bad.

    The COP of current commercial thermoelectric refrigerators ranges from 0.3 to 0.6, only about one-sixth the value of traditional vapor-compression refrigerators

    So what is the break through in the little heat pumps?? TFA is completely uninformative on that. It doesn't even specify efficiency of the heat pump.

    PS. I've had an open loop heat pump for the last decade, and so far it didn't require "frequent inspection" or "maintenance" as TFA says it does. It comes with 20 year warranty. It is basically just like a larger version of a fridge. The only maintenance I can envision is simply cleaning the heat exchanger once in a while.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      I don't think there is a breakthrough... I think these guys are just working on the macro assembly angle of things. I can't see any claims as to better COP, which would make the claims that this would be more "environmentally friendly" a bit dubious.

      There is work going on, mind you, on much better TEC and TEG devices using new materials and quantum dots and such, but I don't see any indication in the sources that these people are doing anything other than figuring out how best to package them for retrofit

    • That's somewhat variable.
      Peltiers basically blow if you use them at over half their 'sticker' maximum temperature difference.
      At that point, they have perhaps a COP of 1.
      At a temperature difference of around 1/6 maximum - they are up to around a COP of 4-5, which
      isn't bad at all.
      However - this is a delta of 6C or so - which isn't really usable in most applications.
      It's worth noting that a COP of 1 isn't useless.
      If you can make it cheap enough, you can make a electric heater with double the output.

      I should ha

    • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @06:00PM (#35969520) Journal

      TFA is on a stupid hippy-dippy design blog site run by children.

      I'm sure they're impressed, but anyone who's been reading this grade of journalism in Popular Science for a few decades is not.

    • I'd be real interested in a heat pump that can last a long time. I just spent about $7000 replacing one that broke, though it was marketed under its more common name: An air conditioner.

      Basically any house A/C is a large mechanical heat pump. It has two radiators for heat transfer, and a compressor that it uses to force heat to one of them, which of course makes the other one cool.

      Useful, and fairly necessary devices in hot climates. However lifespan is a problem. Not only does their efficiency drop with ti

  • That's nice, but we have no shortage of stuff that lasts "up to" millions of years.

    • If it's anything like broadband in the UK, it means it'll last 100 years most of the time, and then on occasion it'll last 3000 years but you're capped at 1 use per day except at lunch time when you can only see it from a distance.
    • It reminds me of the advertisements saying "everything in the store is up to 70% off"

      • by slapout ( 93640 )

        That's like those ads that say "Everything's on sale!" and then say "(excludes electronics, clothing and all Apple products)".

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          "Everything's on sale!"

          "(excludes the shit you want.)"

        • It's like those ads which say "Everything's on sale!." Yes, they will sell any of their stock to the public and make a sale when they exchange the goods for money.

    • by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:57PM (#35968698)

      Technically everything will last forever, it just changes state a lot over that period. :p

      • I still have my grandfather's old axe. The head's been replaced twice, and the shaft three times, but still the same axe.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        He knows changes aren't permanent,
        But change is. -Rush, Tom Sawyer

      • Not in quantum mechanics.... At least, not in the sense you mean. There an expectation value for, say, energy might be conserved, but it's not really the same thing. That is, your post seems to take the classical view that things "are as they are, as measured by the following variables that take on definite values: mass, energy, momentum, ..." modified by relativity saying "and they might turn into energy and geometry is weird so you really need to measure those things carefully, keeping track of your refer

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      Like what?

      Your average outcropping of rock looks a lot different from how it did "millions of years ago". Even your average buried rock is likely to have been mashed or cracked. Even the moon has gotten significantly smaller and moved farther away, and grown a mess of craters. The sun? Probably the most rapidly changing object between us and Proxima Centauri.

      Pretty much nothing fails to change over that timespan.

      • He's probably talking about all the ridiculous MTBF estimates that are basically developed from putting 1M widgets in a room for a month, and then when one fails, say that the MTBF on the device is a million months.

        Because, you know, there's no such thing as corrosion or rust or wear or whatever...

  • That's nothing! I have a tuna sandwich that will last up to 1 billion years! (Your pick of long or short scale.) I absolutely guarantee that it will last no longer than that!


    When will we stop giving an upper bound on the time until something will break when we should be giving a (preferably maximal) lower bound?

    (Still mighty cool work of the University of Oslo.)

  • That's an annoying claim to make, even if they've done accelerated aging tests. The only human construct that's been proven to stay usable after 10,000 years is stone artifacts, such as blocks and arrowheads. Over a hundred centuries, there's plenty of chances for some unexpected failure mode to pop up.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      Well, being solid state, they are basically stone artifacts. Though yes, proving they won't fail for 10,000 years due to a number of known effects that take place on the nano-scale would be a daunting challenge.

    • That's an annoying claim to make, even if they've done accelerated aging tests. The only human construct that's been proven to stay usable after 10,000 years is stone artifacts, such as blocks and arrowheads. Over a hundred centuries, there's plenty of chances for some unexpected failure mode to pop up.

      I agree with you: it is somewhat annoying. However, to play devil's advocate (I find it irresistible) Human civilisation as we know it has been around on the order of 10k years. I hope and - figuratively - pray that we'll make it to 10^6.

  • If I recall correctly, a CD was supposed to last for a hundred years. Maybe the first batch ever will even make a good run, but once it settles into mass production and the competition to lower the price warms up, you can pretty much squash the hope. And when you hit the period when the product is already superseded by the next generation, but still selling by inertia, you will be lucky if it still works by the time you get home with it. A 10k years? Whatever, i'd rather buy the one that promises 10 years.

    • I have CD-Rs and DVD±Rs that are unreadable after (OTOO) 10 years; I have yet to find a mastered/pressed disc that has similarly failed. Viz. the issue of obsolescence I can still read them with off-the-shelf hardware as of 2011.
    • by RsG ( 809189 )

      We may recall things differently, but when I was growing up and CDs were the "new" thing, it was assumed only that they'd substantially outlast cassette tapes (which degraded after a few years of regular use), not that they'd last a hundred years. Perhaps the "hundred years" claim was marketing hyperbole and the outlasting cassettes was the more reasonable widely accepted version.

      In that regard they've done just fine; a CD that hasn't been scratched or damaged is still readable after at least a couple deca

      • CDs are old enough now to be getting laser rot similar to LDs, and indeed they are. And talk to my LDs about how long they should last :(

    • A 10k years? Whatever, i'd rather buy the one that promises 10 years.

      Yes, sounds hugely over-engineered to me. So how much has that unnecessarily long lifespan added to the cost?

  • by popo ( 107611 )

    It doesn't take a genius to see that the extremely small form-factor would be especially prone to dust.

    The 10,000 year number probably requires some idiotic assumption like "as long as it remains dust free".

  • According to the researchers the heat pump will be ready to launch on the market in five to ten years. []

  • 1. how does it work? 2. where is the motor? 3. it's generally either the motor that dies, or the heat-sink fins on the coils that crust over with deposits and growths, abd cause it to lose effieciency. does this unit work without a motor? does it not need a heat sink? 4. where is it getting the power needed to cause the heat to flow against the thermal gradient to pump it into or out of the transfer medium that goes to the air exchanger? is it efficient at doing this? 5. who cares how long it lasts if it's

  • by splerdu ( 187709 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @06:11PM (#35969632)


    Oh wait...

  • Our technical civilization won't really be "advanced" in my view unless we can and do make things that last a long, long time. What technology exists that is still working or workable after centuries or millenia? I think there are a few telescopes over 100 years old that are still in use. Pretty impressive. Older than that, and what?... Stone knives? I heard irrigation ditches and terraces have worked for 100s or thousands of years, but these are pretty static, and have required intensive labor to keep th
    • What technology exists that is still working or workable after centuries or millenia?

      Roads? Maybe not the way we build them now, but the ancients sure knew how to build 'em. They might be buried, but all you do is uncover it and you've got the same road as a few thousand years ago.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      clocks etc work quite frequently even if they're old.

      and a lot of stuff, metal stuff, will last forever if you don't use them.

      maybe you should go to a museum - or an old farmstead. or an antiquities store. old guns work too.

      we could make plenty of stuff that would be operable for five centuries, provided that it doesn't get destroyed in the meantime. interesting though, that's much harder, like it is much harder to make something that is interesting even just today.

  • AFAIK, freon and many other of the refrigerants are no more toxic than water... you CAN drown in them, and that is a hazard in enclosed spaces. And some of the refrigerants were ozone depleters, but the new stuff isn't.
    • If you get a lungful of freon, you're dead, end of story.

      You could be sitting on an operating table in a hospital when it happens and you're still fucked.

  • it will be ready in 5 to 10 years...along with fusion and AI.

  • They'll put it on the market. And in 6 months they'll announce that its now available in white. And everyone will trade in their old ones.
  • I wonder what the electrical consumption is? The main reason we didn't go with a heat pump on my new house is that the pumps would draw too much power from the solar system.
  • There are a few examples of natural heat pumps that have lasted perhaps thousands of years, such as geysers with large sinter (deposited silica) cones, such as Lone Star Geyser [] or Castle Geyser (Wikipedia claims there is evidence that the Castle Geyser is a mere thousand years old rather than the assumed 5k to 15k years, but that's a lot of sinter for a thousand years).

    These geysers transfer heat from superheated hydrothermal networks underground (which in turn are heated by residual heat from the Yellow
  • Any chance this will be used by the folks at The Long Now Foundation []?

  • I hope they use t3h Monsta Kab3l.

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken