Sunday, 29 December 2013

Solar powered flip flop tile

Problem statement

To optimise energy efficiency, buildings need to reflect radiation (infra rad, visible light, ultraviolet, etc) when they are at or above their intended temperature, and absorb radiation when they are below their intended temperature.

Potential solution

The tiles of the roof of the building would have a hinged panel in the middle of them. One side of the panel and the corresponding side of the underlying tile would be painted with a high albedo paint, the other side of the panel would and the other side of the tile would be painted with a low albedo paint. A small motor in the panel would flip the panel between the two states. The motor would be powered by a small solar panel and battery, and controlled remotely.

The panel and hinge attachment could either be attached to existing tiles, or built into new tiles.

The diagrams below illustrate:

It is noted that it may be better solution to cover the roof in solar cells and solar water heaters.

How is value created?

By having good ideas, and then coordinating people and resources to have them implemented

Random connections: Carbon nanotubes and toileteries

This post is the first in a planned series of posts on random connections. The concept for the series is that invention often arises from the combination of concepts that might not otherwise be linked. As a result it is hypothesised that by selecting two or more "things" at random and then thinking about them, novel invention may arise.

The two "things" to be connected are: carbon nanotubes; toiletries

The first idea that came to me was whether could be used coat toothbrush bristles with nanobristles. These nanobristles would potentially need to be fibres made of multiple nanotubes in order to reach a size and strength that would be useful in removing tartar, etc.

Another interesting thought, though not really an idea as such, is that carbon nanotube synthesis could become cheap enough that disposable items such as toilet paper would be made out of it. Carbon nanotube toilet paper could be engineered to be lighter (saving fuel in transportation), stronger, more absorbant, etc. And potentially engineered to degrade after a specified time to reduce the environmental impact of waste.

Use tilt of head to control indicator

With motion detection / 3D scanner technologies it should be possible to collect alternative forms to input from drivers rather than relying on existing control mechanisms. A possible use of this would be to allow a driver to control the turn signals through a left or right inclination of the head. This would be a natural motion for a driver, and would allow the signalling to be done without loosening the drivers grip on the steering wheel, and would allow signally whilst the driver's hand is on the gear stick (for those cars where the turning signal control is on the same side of the steering wheel as the gear stick).

A short inclination to a particular side would turn the turn signal on for that side. A short inclination in the other direction would turn it off.

Windows in toilet doors

Toilet doors typically don't have windows to ensure privacy. Additionally these doors typically come in pairs to ensure adequate separation from other areas. (I'm talking about the doors to the toilet facilities, not the door to a cubicle.)

A downside of the lack of windows is that people can be hit by a door by someone coming from the other direction.

However, it should be possible to address this by the use of polarising filters. If a window is placed in each door an perpendicular polarising filters are placed on each window, then light from within the toilet room would not make it through both windows. However, light from within the gap between the two doors would be able to exit both windows, ensuring that people are not hit by others opening the doors.

Suspended in water power suit

Most designs of powered exoskeletons I have seen have the pilot tightly secured to the exoskeleton (the AMP suit in Avatar being a good example). However, a downside with such design is that the human occupant will be jarred significantly by the movement of the exoskeleton (in Avatar these are seen jumping significant distances from aircraft).

One solution to this jarring would be to contain the pilot within a capsule that is suspended from the main chassis, akin to the suspension seen in motor vehicles. Another possible solution would be to have the pilot suspended in water, with relatively loose bindings to stop the pilot impacting the walls of the container.

The salinity of the water can be adjusted to ensure the pilot is entirely neutrally buoyant, and is hence supported uniformly across the body.

The water also provides a medium for the pilot to move in, with these movements recorded by sensors and translated to the movement of the exoskeleton.

Obviously this design of exoskeleton would need to be at the larger end to accommodate a sufficiently large capsule in which to house the pilot.