Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Posts Tagged ‘green

It’s quite possible that I am just plain simply crazy, but if you bear with me and try to understand how my brain and thought process works, I think there is most certainly an idea here.

Energy is a Pressing Matter and Hot Topic in all Circles, but I think the basis of our problem isnt focused on.

Energy is a Pressing Matter and Hot Topic in all Circles, but I think the basis of our problem isnt focused on.

So I was sitting through a Sustainability Conference in IIT Madras today and there was one talk on Energy Consumption. The talk essentially mentioned how we ascertain energy demands by our peak hours. The problem being we need that at the most, and at times when its not the peak, we have to “shed” the load, and it usually ends up being dumped into the grid, and thanks to our grids not being designed properly, it usually ends up overloading half of rural India. That’s a different story all together.

The hint was in a passing by comment that the problem with energy is that it has to be consumed as and when its produced. There is simply no way to store it. If you want to store it in batteries and such, its simply not viable for large quantities, since its very expensive.

I have no idea what happened for the rest of the talk, apart for when he showed graphs and numbers – which always catches my attention, but he also mentioned that they were not accurate, which made me go “bleh” and back to my thinking process.

The Idea:

So Energy. The basis is that all energy is created from one form or the other. So Lets accept that we cant break this rule and make newton roll over in his grave. Knowing limitations are a plus point.

Lets learn a little bit of inspiration from biology. We take food, we break it down into amino acids, the smallest and easily metabolic form of food, and then the system burns it into energy as per the demands of the body. Compare it with however it is that we create energy, saying that one form of energy – coal or whatever is converted into energy which is converted into electricity which is probably the simplest form of energy.

If you look at biology, the food that is intaken, if the broken down food is more than the “demand” of the system, then the system quickly converts them into FAT and stores them all around the body – which is what provides all those funky love handles that people put so much energy to get rid of. But quite strictly speaking, its just the systems way of saying that we are consuming more than we need, and it is storing it away for a rainy day. The first signs of starvation and thats the storage unit that the system starts feeding off of.

Whats the FAT version of electricity? That’s the question.

Now, I am thinking that there is a possibility here that one cannot go directly from coal into  free flowing electrons. And we are probably missing a middle step that might help us with efficiency.

Secondly, there must be a way to join these electrons to become something that is more passive and with a trigger break them down into simpler free flowing electrons again.

And you know what? If that is possible… you and I would never have to wait for ages for our phones or ipods t get charged. We can technically dump these “FAT” into our devices, and let the device trigger these substance into electrons so that we get a full charge. But the deal is that, just like it doesnt take the body more than a few enzymes to break down FAT back into Amino acids and use them, we have to have these in a form that the devices themselves can transform without elaborate machinery – aka. combustion chambers and engines.

I think it should be possible. These are days when I wish I was a physicist and a chemist put together. But if, and I think it can be, it is possible, then technically we should be able to catch “energy” as and when it happens – from the lightnings, to tornadoes, to cyclones, save up all the energy and use it for when we need it. We can harvest all of the Sunlight hitting the earth and probably setup plants that can fight some of the global warming, and probably use energy in a way that is not as harmful to the planet as our current barbaric ways are.

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There was sometime back when was doing a rough math on how many live camera streams there are. There are some that are pointed towards the “habitat” of the Loch Ness Monster, there are enough live traffic camera, and plenty of them pointed towards a birds nest or so. And if you take the example of Justin.tv (which seems to be inspired by The Truman Show), even people are willing to play their part in all this.

Ofcourse all of this is a one way broadcast. Apart from adult sites which are apparently making their niche through two way interaction, there is not much that is happening in this space.

Is there any of that, that can be adapted into the “green” scenario? A couple of light bulbs went on and off and here’s the thought (or Idea):

MMORPG
The forest department today plans thousands of saplings every year on barren lands to convert them into lush green forests, but the biggest problem with it has been the case of watering them. There is not enough manpower to do those menial tasks – at the salary that the govt is providing – and there is also the issue of accountability where all the saplings near the roadside stand straight and well watered, but the ones in the interior die away because laziness kicks in for most of these workers. They are not to be blamed either when the scorching sun is merciless on them and they are poorly prepped for all that.

The idea is to basically plant all the saplings as the forest department does and then have water drums which can be filled periodically with water from trucks (much simpler task). The pipes to the saplings will be set on drip irrigation and there will be a soil moisture sensor in the soil which measures if there is water or not. Set a Camera that overlooks this area, connect it to the Internet and create a frontend to a MMORPG (Massively Multi-user Online Role Playing Game). If that’s too much of an acronym, think Second Life. People can “adopt” grids of these fields and take care of them. All they have to do is, once the soil moisture turns a bit low, hit the buttons that will start the drip irrigation and stop them when the moisture level is optimal.

There are already countless number of such “events” that happen in Second Life, where if one plants a sapling in the virtual world, an organization instead plants one in the real world somewhere. This would just be an extension of that.

Now, technically you can take this to the next level. Think of all the Wild Life Sanctuaries. The biggest problem today is Poachers (I am still worried if I have to show stuffed toys of Tigers as our National Animal to my kids someday), and the forest officers are not nearly paid enough to scout the areas – and they are very ill armed to protect themselves from these animals as well. What if we could setup a range of Wifi cameras, stream the videos and let people monitor them. I’m sure there are enough animal activists around the world that some might even take it up while we sleep. All they would have to do is to hit a button which will alert the officer if a Poacher is spotted. And give the front end the control to click a snap if they want to document something and we might capture poachers and exotic wildlife as souvenirs.

I think finally, and its about time that the conscious of having to go green is kicking in. And we are gonna have to do everything – not just to sustain – but positively influence this planet to make it sustainable and even stay on the existential path. Maybe entrepreneurship, technology and the enthusiasm of the global audience can create a network of Global Watchers, to take care of the assets around us – All this while getting to “play” their roles.


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