Saturday, May 11, 2013

Going Green - Part 2

This is a continuation of my previous post:
If you haven't already figured out already I'm a big fan of using the environment to aide us. To this end I've been thinking of some changes to current technology (obviously, some ideas are extremely feasible but others are probably best left for the distant future) to allow us to live a more sustainable future:
- been thinking about better use of aerodynamics in cars. Provided the car is light enough and there is sufficient speed we may be able to make use of dynamic aerodynamic technologies. For instance, in Formula 1 teams were recently playing around with 'Drag Reduction Systems' which basically involved a opening/closing a flap on the back of the rear wing. Let's take this a step further. We have a channel at the front which runs through the middle of the car which when adjusted can send air over the back or under the back end of the back of the car (whose shape could possibly be dynamically altered at will?). In affect we have what amounts to variable aerodynamics and therefore theoretical weight). Ultimately, at higher speeds the effective weight of the car will become lighter which means increased fuel efficiency, reduced wear on car parts (remember in my re-design we would be throwing away a lot of parts as well so the effect is compounded), more than likely a car which requires less servicing, etc... Of course, a lot of tweaking may be require to ensure 'safe' levels of upforce though at all times though I suspect this may be computer controlled... Moreover, if the design already has aerodynamics in mind we may be able to retro-fit wings and turbines for air flight at some stage.
Curious to know efficiency levels of flying cars? Are we ready to fly en-masse as yet?
- been thinking about ECU modifications further. At traffic lights, we shut down our engines so that only one cylinder is used (a button somewhere or perhaps even automated)(we shut down cylinders as opposed to entire engine to reduce wear on batteries which is a problem with some existing systems). We should also have the ability to deal up/down cylinders, change timing at will, etc... The options are to provided would be similar to what is provided to Formula 1 currently but the options provided obviously be determined by manufacturers. Mandate transmission/engine modes performance, fuel efficiency/mix, etc... like they do in higher end cars?
- thinking more about reducing effective weight further without requiring extra power. One way is by altering our roads so that they are slightly magnetised. At the bottom of our cars (possibly the tyres/wheels (strategically placed to increase contact area)?) are also magnets/superconductors. They will repel one another and may possibly increase fuel efficiency.
Such technology could possibly be investigate on existing rail based vehicles?
- reduction of hydraulics/mechanical techology and increased use of electronics and fly-by-wire technology in cars. For instance, instead of relying on power steering, differentials, rack and pinion steering mechanism we use electronics and other techniques. While power distribution would still be centralised we would have what basically amounts to two mini-gearboxes at the front wheels (or on each side) of the car. Changing the gearing in these gearboxes allows each tyre to turn at a different rate which ultimately means that not only can get rid of a lot of extra mechanical parts (and weight) but we can get better turning circles as well. Obviously, a lot of testing is required to get this right/safe though.
- make seats (and other non-essential components) entirely removable (apart from drivers seat?). Significant reduction in weight, allows people the flexibility of increasing cargo/seating capacity of car at will as well, and obviously means fuel savings as well. Consider same technique in aircraft as well? I've been on a lot of aircraft where there was only a small number of people aboard. Curious to know what the fuel savings would be? Should be stop particular flights from running if there isn't enough demand?
- thinking about the large/small car debate further. Let's say we go with one seat cars from now on but they also had the ability to be able to communicate with one another (similar to technology used in high end military systems such as the JSF). In effect, they could 'connect/communicate electronically' and take you to the same place at the same time (I'm thinking driverless as well as driver based world) anywhere/anytime. Moreover, we could dedicate a particular car to taking cargo in 'driverless mode' and if we so desired we could physically connect/detach them at will as well like in Lego/Transformers (I prefer to call it 'Transformatech').
- need to think about insulation further. As I previously indicate in other post films are one way of achieving it with windows but I think we should think further about using insulating materials in cars (impact of fuel consumption on cars?).
- thinking about means of further reducing effective volume of engines, power and fuel consumption but believe that cylinder reduction as outlined above may be enough?
- thinking about introducing something akin to 'suspended seating/shock absorption' in seats. If you've ever been involved in any form of accident (even low speed ones) you'll realise the level of shock that goes through the car. This would hopefully would reduce the number of whiplash incidents.
- obviously to make some of the technology above work we'll need to make our cars out of lighter materials. Cost is the big issue though...
- rig our traffic lights so that we don't have to start/stop so often (acceleration/decceleration are the biggest contributors to fuel consumption)
- consider dynamic speed limits/signage as well which will mean that traffic flows as quickly/safely (increased average speed in low traffic areas will mean you arrive at destination quicker, which means less time road and less chance of accident?) as is possible?
- need to examine better methods of manufacture of technology.
One alternative means of dealing with the waste of silicon production I've been thinking about is by liquifying it and then spraying it on to a non-stick material (similar technique that they use in cooking). The resulting silicon is then 'peeled off'.
- further research into lubrication required. Longer term, I think we need to think about less mechanical/physical contact technologies though (superconductors, wireless, electromagnetic fields, etc...). If there is no contact there's no lubrication required...
- been thinking of this thermodynamic control issue. I've been thinking about something akin to a 'heat bubble'. Basically, we have a gaseous atmosphere around is more amenable to heating/cooling... Of course, finding a substance which is capable of doing this and is non-toxic/explosive? Possibilities with regards to cooking?

Another method is actually embedding heating pad style channels in our clothing (charged by putting them in the oven/microwave) so that we can basically have heat on tap.
- based on what I've read most cars use a form of heat pump to deal with heating. What if we start to use some of the heat from the engine itself though? We control the level of heat by changing level of seperation between car body and engine? and mix of ambient air and engine heat? Something else that probably needs to be looked at is air extraction. Based on what I've read a combination of extraction and new infusion of air is far better mechanism of ensuring new air circulation and hence termpature control.
Would also like to see stronger use of chemically based heating technologies. If we use conventional electrical means in order to heat up something similar to a heat pack, then use chemical based heat energy from the actual heat pack itself thereafter, we can can further reduce further 'active energy consumption. The benefit is that based on what I've read 'Heat Pack' style technologies are quite re-useable and may actually be easier to maintain in the long term. Possibly consider 'magnetic cooling' or other sources of more efficient cooling?
- thinking about introducing materials into wallpaper, carpet underlay, ceramic tyles (only where appropriate), paints and dyes so that they they provide a layer of insulation as well?
- use the ground in a better fashion as well. Based on what I've seen the temperature of the ground/sea is generally cooler than that of the air. If we had thermally conductive pipes that actually built into architecture and could be lowered raised at will (they could even be left in there permanently as a means of regulating overall temperature depending on ground temperature fluctuations with insulation being used when higher temperatures are required) we may be able to gain some form of passive cooling (heat tends towards cooler areas)?
- would like to see another design philosophy addition to our technology. We shouldn't think about energy being generated at centralised points only. We should try to de-centralise it as well. In previous post outlined using environment as a means of gaining energy. Believe that we should take it a step further. Whenever possible, we should take the position of not only mitigating energy requirements but becoming 'energy neutral' as well. Namely, the object in question should be able to have it's own source of power generation and storage. For instance, there have recently been stride into transparent solar panels. It's clear that efficiency is a problem but given time we may get to the point where our windows, walls, and even lights may be able to power our buildings.
In keeping with this theme of self power generation is something I called 'Tendril Technology'. For a while now, scientists have been experimenting with nanotechnology and tiny motors. What if we do the reverse? If you've ever seen a wind tunnel you'll see that they sometimes use strips of paper in specific locations to determine direction of flowing gas/liquids. Let's take it a step further. Rarely are the aerodynamics of any object perfect. If we can design tiny electrical generators that stick to particular circuits/areas of a vehicle (like tendrils) than we can make use of the movement of the car itself to generate free energy as the car moves. Of course, this will possibly come at the cost of drag and I'm unsure of the economics of the concept itself? Possibilties are of course endless if such technology is viable/works... We could generate energy ourselves by virtue of our own personal movement. In the meantime am thinking about kinetic based generators being used on cattle and other animals. If insted of just a cow bell, a power generator was also installed I'm curious how much 'free energy' we could create (similar technology to road/pavement based power technology as outlined in previous post)?
- been thinking of other 'free energy' possibilities. One is based on sound. A speaker is driven through electrical current but it can also act as a microphone and generate current as well. How much electricity could you generate using such technology at airports, shopping centres, concerts, etc?
- more intelligent use of solar panels. One design that I saw for a solar farm involved a large number of materials directed towards a group/central point of solar anels. Take this further. If we use parabolic mirrors or have a series of moving mirrors that re-direct sunlight based on the position of the sun we can gain even further gains in efficiency?
- have been considering shield concept further. One option is to use space junk (old satellites, space stations, etc...)(we may need to develop a 'Scooper Bot' to herd junk into the correct area before we can commence building obviously) to build part of the structure for the final shields (one at both poles in geosynchronous orbit. Else low Earth orbit may be fine as well depending on the impact of the shield, size required, etc?). Others things to think about is whether we should make it static or do we allow it to have varying levels of power (like a blind that you can open/shut to varying degrees)? Whether we have multiple shields in regional areas to allow for better climate control around the world? If this is the case would we be able to finally control the weather? Would these sheilds provide any protection against solar flares? Could we also connect satellites/space stations to them? Would they have any impact upon our existing satellite networks and other operations? We'll likely require improved methods of joining/construction in outer space (we need to do this at some point down the line anyhow).
- even if we can't mandate use of green technology but we may be able to guarantee orders. Government forms huge proportion of GDP in a lot of developed countries and if we were able to guarantee orders of truly revolutionary green technologies that may increase the incentive for companies to make a bet on green technologies.
- better access/marketing of recycling facitilies require? Should we mandate levels of recycled product in appropriate areas?
Possibly better develop better means of providing means of transferrance of recylable goods? Clear that we need some local options though we'll debate this issue in another post.
- have been thinking about methods of automatically sorting landfill (it's clear that at some point we should be able to use robots). One uses pre-defined shape/colour coding of packaging. Another involves using facial recognition and then sorting based on a database of goods commonly found in supermarkets and shopping centres...
- it's clear that we still have significant problems with regards to reaching other planets.
Perhaps we should consider setting up a moon base in the meantime? Experiments with life support, energy/food production, and mining in particular?
- should we start to have environmental efficiency levels on buildings as well?
- based on what I've seen a lot of energy storage technologies I've come across are thermally/environmentally dependent to extract maximum performance. Do we design them with insulation and active thermal management systems as well (already present in Lithium based technologies to some extent)?
- don't think we're dealing with Chinese dumping situation particularly well. Clear that many countries have issues with the Chinese though so it's obvious that they have a case. Problem with tariffs is that they will drive overall prices up. Consider taking it to the WTO? If tariff is preferred, make it smaller/take it and then use this to subsidise (partly or completely) local industry? It will hopefully drive prices downwards overall (dumpers now have to drive prices down further to compete or run the risk of being un-competitive (they may be willing to do so in the short/medium term)) and make adoption of such options much more easier/sensible down the line?

- some countries are clearly protectionist with regards to clean energy generation technologies in Europe or else don't want/have the resources to invest in such infrastructure. Consider opening up grids/lines between countries and provide excess energy across borders? Consider setting up joint ventures between countries? Thereafter, use equity shares to perhaps sell off to re-invest? Sovereignty/percentage share still remains the same ideally as was originally.
- as state previously more alternative fuel research required...
use thermal conditions/enzymes/catalytsts as a means of controlling electrical discharge rate?