The Sizzling Bacon Engine

Last night, I posted something here about wanting to have a big bacon ‘n beer party come springtime. It was a whimsical little nothing of a post. It wasn’t some big ambitious program that I was proposing. It wasn’t anything that I was particularly proud of. It was just a note about a silly little way to spend a sunny spring afternoon with friends. I didn’t think that I was setting in motion a chain of events that would forever change the world. But, I guess you never really know which little ideas will. Franklin, after all, probably didn’t set out to discover electricity. I’m guessing, at the beginning, he just wanted to fly a kite.

So, anyway, from that little germ of an idea, our society may have been saved… Or at least that’s what some of the scientists out there in the audience tonight are telling me.

The first note came from Anonymatt, who said, “I think what you need here is a grease-powered grill or griddle. I guess you’d have to prime it with old bacon grease or vegetable oil, but after that each batch should provide grease with which to cook the next batch.”

I loved the idea. It was simple, delicious and brilliant. But I still didn’t appreciate the magnitude of what Anonymatt was saying. It took a note from Murph for me to see it… Here’s what Murph said:

“I think Anonymatt is on to something. Perpetual motion is possible, as is cold fusion – it’s just that nobody’s tried powering it with bacon before! Mark, I think your site has just solved the world’s energy problems and rebuilt Ypsi’s economy all at the same time.”

So, now I’m excited. I feel as though I’m standing on the brink of something huge, like I’ve finally discovered my purpose in life. I was put here to facilitate the conversation that would bring about the invention of the bacon grid. “This,” I’m thinking, “is why I’ve been spending every night for the past 7 years blogging.” My job is to usher in the era of perpetual bacon power, and maybe even bacon time travel.

So, now I just need to ask you for a favor. Before I can approach a scientist about making a prototype, I need to have some kind of schematic showing how the system works – how the grease from the cooked bacon powers the cooking of that same piece of bacon, forming a perfect energy producing system. If the heat were kept low enough, the same piece of bacon could, in theory, power a city, assuming, of course, the process took place between two focused convex mirrors. Anyway, I need some kind of sketch of this system and I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d give it a shot. You’re our only hope.

And, while you’re doing that, I’m going to be working on the logo. I’m envisioning a sideways eight made of bacon… Bacfinity!

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  1. Luke Bison
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    I’ll bring the bowls.

  2. Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Holy crap, Luke, that looks so tasty!

  3. Koka k.
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    I will bring the healthful low-calorieeffervesent beverages.

  4. Fyodor
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    I’ll bring the sustainable adult beverage.

  5. Patrick
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    I was just checking in to suggest an idea to power the five-thousand-gallon groundhog crockpot stew/Feijoada cooker with recycled electric heating elements hooked to the movie reel bicycle generator.
    But, I guess you have solved the world’s energy problem. Congratulations!

  6. Paw
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I’m not a scientist, but I know that something like this would require a centrifuge and at least a hundred of aluminum pipes.

  7. Frydaddy
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Here is the small prototype


  8. Brackache
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Frydaddy — wait, is the bacon grease supposed to drain into a pressurized tank, get repressurized somehow, then shoot through some burners in gas form?

  9. Brackache
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Seems like it’d be easier to have a slanted cooking surface with a drain at the lowest point through which the grease runs into some sort of collecting reservoir, which can then be periodically released (in a controlled manner so the whole grease load doesn’t go rushing in at once), into the flaming grease inferno under the cooking surface.

    It’s not really a closed system, since we have to add fuel in the form of more bacon.

  10. Brackache
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Also, it would have to use hybrid technology: we need to start the initial grease fire with something else. Maybe a small wood fire under the flaming grease inferno pit would suffice until the grease fire ignited.
    Or anything — sterno, natural gas, buffalo chips, whathaveyou. Just to get it started.

  11. Huckett
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    What will the vegetarians do if the world becomes powered by animal fat? Go live in the woods with flashlights? An ethical dilemma.

  12. Brackache
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Gravity should be our primary force for grease relocation (cooking surface to reservoir to flaming grease pit) to keep it simple and efficient.

  13. Fred
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Could absolutely be a closed system with the addition of a certrifuge and a sterling engine. The same piece of bacon could cook itself forever, and throw off enough power to run 7 households.

  14. Brackache
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    We’d have to feed all the bacon to the pigs which we’ll slaughter to get more bacon to really make it a closed system.

    We’ll also have to keep it running in the pig pens so the heat won’t be wasted.

  15. Bigger Powerplant
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    This might work.

  16. Posted February 6, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  17. Posted February 6, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ll bring the music. (Sorry, someone had to do it…)

  18. Steph
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I love the artists conceptions.

  19. Steve Swan
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Could the torrents of pig blood from the processing facility power a water (blood) wheel? If so, more power!

  20. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    The the sound waves produced by squealingcould be harnessed to produce electricity.

  21. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Second try on the link.

    (And of course, I’m referring the ecstatic squeals Brackache lets out whenever he eats bacon.)

  22. Bigger Powerplant
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    20,00o Kw

  23. Bigger Powerplant
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

  24. Posted February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Using some rough values I found on the Intertoobes [1], one slice of bacon weighs 29 grams and has 12 grams of fat. Those 12 grams of fat will produce 444 kJ of energy. The specific heat of bacon is 1.51 kJ/( kg deg C ), so those 12 grams of fat, if converted perfectly to heat, could raise 294 kg of bacon 1 degree C. Going from room temperature (20 deg C) to the safe temperature for consuming pork products (70 deg C) is a change of 50 deg C, so that energy could move about 5 kilograms of bacon from room temperature to a safe eating temperature.

    I’m slightly not sure about this answer, but I suspect that the problem is that in the messy real world no burning process would turn the energy in the fat in the bacon perfectly into heat that could cook bacon. So there’s likely some sort of fudge factor there, and also this assumes that my brain can do calculations like this on a Friday evening — corrections are welcome. And, of course, depending on your desired outcome you may only care about getting the fat liquid enough so that it could flow and serve as a fuel, or you may care about getting the bacon to the desired crispyness level (which may require a higher temperature).

    Of course, what you are doing here is not making a perpetual motion machine, since you are constantly putting in energy in the form of supplemental bacon (that is, if you stop putting bacon in, you eventually will stop getting energy out). What you really have is a rather inefficient (but delicious) long-tail solar power generator: the sun provides the energy to grow crops which provides the energy to make pig which provides the energy to cook pig. There’s probably some renewable energy grant you could get for this.

    [1]: Goddess bless America that I can think “I wonder what the specific heat of bacon is” and *find* an answer online.

  25. Posted February 7, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Thomas –

    Unfortunately, you’re right. We have to feed the bacon to the pigs in order to keep producing more bacon. Which means vegetarians should be just fine with this system – it’s the meaties who are going to have some adjusting to do. On the upside, it means we don’t have to heat the bacon hot enough to be “safe” for human consumption – just high enough to render the fat liquid for collection.

    The real problem is the matter of a limited supply of maple syrup and salt to cure the bacon in, and hickory chips to smoke the bacon in. I’d propose that we immediately plant the ACH site in sugar maples, and Motor Wheel with hickory, to ensure a future supply. There will be some time before either of those sites have mature enough trees to provide enough feedstock, so we’ll have to begin laying in alternative sources of materiel now. After all, it should be just a few short years before we work all the bugs out of the prototypes and are ready for the full-scale production version, which will, of course, be located on Water Street.

  26. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    To quote Steph:

    “I love the artist’s conceptions.”

    Very nice.

  27. Posted February 8, 2009 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I love the images too, but I don’t understand why a giant painting of me is on the side of the bard. Does it somehow stimulate the pigs to mate more frequently, or with more vigor? And I love the water wheel of blood. Perhaps, after it turns the wheel, we could make a log flume for the kids. And I still think that mirrors and a centrifuge need to be incorporated somehow. Magnets wouldn’t hurt, either.

  28. Mark
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink


    I need to form a new band just to do this one song.

  29. Posted February 8, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I had another idea this afternoon.

    The bacon needs to be in suspended in zero gravity. I’m picturing a big hot, glowing bubble with a single strip of bacon suspended in the middle.

    The tiny droplets of fat are wicked away by nanorobotos.

  30. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    You know… I don’t think anybody else is really serious about building this thing. Everything’s just a big joke around here, isn’t it? Hahaha, laugh it up, jokers.

  31. Jordan
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Here in Ann Arbor, we would just have Homeless Dave pedal power it. And we only consume bacon if it’s made from a non-meat source. Or if it comes from the Niman Ranch. Because the only thing cooler than being vegetarian in Ann Arbor is being a “foodie.” And the only thing cooler that being a foodie is being Homeless Dave.

  32. Kim Jong Il
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Has his been patent, or am I free to commercializes invention?

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