Category Archives: environment

Graphene still v water purifier

I am old enough to have been an engineer when carbon nanotubes were discovered, not that long after buckyballs. I remember the excitement of all the vast potential. It was immediately obvious to very many engineers how they could be used in lots of different ways. Mostly we all came up with the same ideas, but a few were different. My main different contribution was the electron pipe, which allows a billion times as much data transfer as optical fibre.

Graphene is the new wonder material equivalent now. Short diversion: briefly, graphene it is just the latest new arrangement of carbon atoms. So now we have a ball, a tube, and a plane as well as common graphite and diamond. We don’t yet have the carbon cone, the pyramid, the cube. Then think pasta, and all the shapes you get that in, carbon should be able to do all those too. Then think of just about any other pattern in 3D, and you can probably build that out of variants. OK, diversion over.

Graphene Still

Graphene apparently lets water through but not alcohol. So, graphene stills won’t be far away. Refining that idea, all you need is a container with a graphene membrane, i.e. a bag made of graphene, or a porous bag coated with graphene. Water will migrate to one side, leaving concentrated solution of alcohol on the other. Naturally, you’d make the graphene membrane highly convoluted to maximise surface area.

If that works, and graphene also doesn’t allow salt or dirt through, then you could also make a desalinator or water purifier the same way.

Graphene desalinator

I have no idea if this will work, but I bet the guys that invented it know and if it could, they must have it on a very long list of things to do.


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Filed under environment, health, Household, sustainability, water

Linear induction bike lanes

I invented this a few years ago but as far as I know, no-one has built it yet, but it really ought to work.

As someone who loves cycling (in spite of common belief), is impatient, often lazy, and who spends far too much time in airports, the moving walkways that we see in airports inspired me to wonder about the economics of adding bicycle conveyors on commuting roads. I have no real idea how fast I normally ride, but let’s say 7.5m/s on the flat. If there was a conveyor belt moving also at 7.5m’s along the road, it would half the time it take me to get somewhere, and greatly reduce the speed differential between me and passing traffic, making it safer to ride.

At first glance this looks a ridiculous idea, because we immediately think as engineers of the obvious fact that the first falling leaf would clog the system up, rain would cause havoc, cars encroaching on the path would cause mechanical stress because of the speed differential between a conveyor and the road surface, and pedestrians would also try to step on to it and cause yet more havoc. The idea ought to be a total non-starter.

However…Suppose instead that we add a metal plate to the bike, close to the road surface, and add linear induction motors to the idea! Maybe even the wheels would suffice as the plate, or widening the wheel rims, or flattening the tyres, someone else can do the physics. Suddenly there is no problem with clogging, rain, cars or pedestrians. There is a small problem of vandals trying to send metal objects at high speed along the road of course, but it is an easily soluble one.

Since roads usually have good electrical supplies along them for street lighting and cable runs, this ought to be worth looking at. If it could be solved, it would be a good way of encouraging cycling as a viable transport solution, and reducing carbon production. It can be rolled out gracefully according to demand, works well with cycle paths on roadsides, even those shared with pedestrians.

The amount of extra force given to the cyclist could be variable. Bicycles could be given RFID chips to identify them and the personal tastes of that cyclist indulged alongside billing. Some people might want lots of assistance or to go very fast, other want less assistance or to go slower. Since induction plates can be individually controlled, and the bicycle plates can also be tweaked for height or inductance, it is easily customisable in real time

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Filed under environment, fitness, sustainability, transport