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Green Business Ideas for the future Cities


During my recent visit to Birla Institute of Technology & Science, (Goa campus) I was given an opportunity to talk to a class of students on the synergy between Renewable Energy & Future technology with its potential business applications. Not being an expert in any of the subject, I considered the path of least resistance. That is to put forth a few Green Business Ideas and with the talent pool BITS has, if there would be any viability in my ideas, they would perhaps be the best bet to make them happen.

By default, I have never attempted to invent the wheel. It needs a superior mind to be the inventor. But, I have some confidence in exploiting a tool to its maximum benefit by tweaking it just a little. Thus, a few thoughts came into my mind.

On my last invite to BITS – Goa, I was fortunate to meet some of the best minds of the country which inspired me to come up with a thought which I penned down as Solar Laptop & Mobile : In your store by next summer? While researching for my impending lecture this time around, I found that the idea has already been implemented.(article). Not in the exact way I had written about but we already have a piezoelectric laptop and jogging shoe. And  among many inventors some of the protagonists are Indians too. The only feather missing was the name of a primer Indian institute. Its time the Indian Engineering students change that. However I was  glad to find young achievers in a lesser known Nagpur institution the Nuva College of Engineering when it came to the piezoelectric shoe (article). Here I found people who are already doing parallel research and achieving the same concepts.

I am not sure how many young minds in India are even aware of The National Innovation Foundation.? As with every meaningful governance tool, it too languishes in a dusty corner with no real attempt by the Ministry of Science and Technology to promote it among the masses in a sustained and populist way. If one sees the site, some of the products although brilliant, have not found currency in the fast modern megalopolis simply because most innovation have not reached the market, barring an amazing few.

The need of the hour is that we have a constant dedicated media, specially a visual media which keeps showcasing the excellent Green Ideas which is being thought the world over. If India can achieve this one single act, I’m sure that brilliant young minds would showcase more and more concepts of efficient living. It would and should become a platform for exchange between the academia : business doing a greater good to this resource depleted planet.

It is said that Ideas can save a life, believing in this I put forth a few more ideas to the students at BITS – Goa.

The first thing I said was that one could revisit the piezoelectric powered lap-top and see if they could harness  the ambient light emitting form the screen into small photo-voltaic panels fitted just above the key-board space. And can a battery also be developed which could convert the waste-heat into power? True the initial contraption may be an extension (accessory) rather than a part of the computer, but it would help extend the charge thus reducing drawing of power from the grid.

The concept could perhaps be extended to large computer Server Rooms. Server rooms by default have to be kept cool 24x7x365 thus a huge drain on electrical power to run air-conditioners. Therefore can it be possible that the heat being exhausted by the server fans be directed to a metal plate which has its other end super cool, thus inducing a current, which then forms part of the energy demand of the air-conditioners ?

While in 2009 Maxell did created a near recycled battery and also conceptualized the reverse supply chain, not much traction is seen on it. Simply because we always lack the money and might to do a good thing. The other day, while discarding a dozen coin cell / button batteries from my child’s toys I was deeply disappointed that none were rechargeable. And there was no shop or scrap-dealer ready to take them. Simply because they have no resale value, weighing between 1.9 gram to 2.6 gram the 10 pieces could have hardly moved the scale to excite a scrap metal vendor. However if the same calculation is applied as I did in the article Green Business Ideas – CDM methods for Steel Production.the result too would be in million tonnes of steel.

I wondered if the promoters of POSCO steel plant which is facing the ire of the Odisha villagers would consider, the idea of innovative recycle. But then we are always happy to rip and rape life-style and virgin land rather than think sensibly. After all most of us are intelligent human devoid of silly sentiments of saving Earth. We are smart enough, when the time comes to relocate to another living planet in the Universe! So what if we don’t have the address, we can always ask it from the doomsday cults who keep sighting aliens.

Bio-degradable batteries

So the next best Idea which young achievers could look at is bio-degradable cells. Already there is a lot of research on-going but I’ve yet to see a button battery which is bio-degradable. The thought itself is so exciting, because different branches of engineering students, within the campus can group together to devise the perfect tool.

Perhaps they could design a Mobile phone or adopt one of the path-breaking concept of a Grass -phone but add more piratical concepts and look to at it. Then engineer the battery area in a way so that button cells are no longer  required but the ones which are bio-degradable can be used. Even the new lithium-ion batteries which are paper-thin and bio-degradable need to be developed further to be made for mass consumption and cheaper. Which then can be applied to the host of  futuristic smart phone designs which are already being showcased. And to add on to the technology of Mobile phones there are two more areas of research. The first one is to develop an “App” which can control the cell-phone camera; when detached from the phone and stuck to a wall or placed on a table to shoot self-portraits. It is almost a necessity, which almost all cell-phone users must have faced one time or the other. The detached camera can be controlled for zoom and focus via blue-tooth while the applications helps set that perfect screen-shot with the desired back-ground. No more waiting for strangers to click ones photo, blurred or shaken and missing some vital elements the photographer would have wanted !

The second more closer to my thoughts is a simple layman friendly mobile phone application which could measure the ambient light in a room and rightly advice, post keying in the information as to how many lights and at what temperature the Air-conditioner should be set, vis-a-vis light transmission from the windows at day-time and the out-side temperature prevalent. This would make sense even in LEED certified building as because complete automation of lighting controls on an hour to hour basis is not yet prevalent and not all homes have the automation facility which one may find in offices, which are more given to better energy management.

While it can not be denied that institutions world over have some of the most brilliant innovations happening, the Indian scenario needs to improve further. As is the case of the piezoelectric driven laptop, where the Indian scientist are doing the research in Australia; we need more scientist doing research in India itself. It is only then we shall be able to have products which are cheaper and more affordable to the masses.

Ideas like piezoelectric should find currency and support from both business and government alike because the seer population of India would be a boon to such renewable energy development. It is time we have people looking at the applications of piezoelectric as the west is doing so actively.

And here the role of institutions become important in terms of indigenous design and development.

 

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The Gen Next will demand a Green Building


Awareness on Climate change is profound in Urban Indian schools. This I found when, invited by the district Rotary president of the area I live in Mumbai, I gave a lecture on Green Buildings in a school & a law college. During the short question and answer session, I was amazed at the grasp and depth of understanding many possessed about ” Global warming”. It was encouraging.

In my earlier article I had shown that by simply recycling steel jotter pens one can Reduce the impact of mining for iron-ore. ( Green Business Ideas –  CDM methods for Steel Production ) What if we can inculcate the idea of Reduce – Recycle – Reuse to the school children across all schools. Especially in the Urban  areas ? According to the UNICEF data the total number of school children in India were 113.8 million in 2000-01; Which in the last ten years has increased. Say if we just take into account 50% of these schools which would be imparting basic knowledge of Global Warming, we have a huge youth population which by the year 2025 be the next “consumer” of all product and produce the market has to offer.

The World business better gear up for all things green. It is the only alternative they would have especially in the Urban centers of India. Further India along with China are predicted to grow phenomenally, and growth by default means high carbon growth. Actually if you read an article by atradersrant – It is not the CO2, it is the waste heat that goes with every kiloWatt of electricity produced, which is the real cause of global warming. This actually helps rest the climate skeptic arguments that CO2, being a natural gas can not harm Earth, but at the same time proves that because we have not yet perfected the art of energy manufacturing and consumption, the waste heat is in fact coming from inefficient burning of fossil fuel – thus carbon.

Global Warming 1/2

Global Warming 1/2 (Photo credit: lamazone)

An article stated – “Asia has been responsible for over two-thirds of the growth in global energy demand over the past two decades. As, above all, China and India race towards prosperity, they will burn coal in huge volumes. The resulting emissions of carbon dioxide will be among the biggest hurdles in the way of a global agreement on limiting climate change …Where China leads, India lumbers behind, also burning an awful lot of coal, and hungry for more electric power. Some 70% of its electricity comes from coal. The national grid has expanded hugely in recent years. But it still leaves about 300m people without a connection. In projections of increased energy demand over the next 25 years, India is second only to China…Like China, it is ploughing resources into nuclear power, oil-and-gas exploration and imports, and renewable energy. Like China, too, however, India finds coal the obvious option. It is something it has plenty of—already the world’s third-largest producer, it has the world’s fifth-biggest coal reserves. But it cannot exploit them fast enough to meet demand. In fact, output has not increased for two years. Coal India, the state monopoly, blames the difficulty of securing mining permits. So India may soon become the world’s biggest coal importer.On current trends, as estimated by McKinsey, India’s carbon emissions will increase by about two-and-a-half times by 2030, by which time its power industry alone will account for about one-tenth of the total rise in global emissions. Like China’s government, India’s points out that, per head, its people will still be producing far less carbon dioxide than Americans or Australians (though China is rapidly catching up with some European countries in pollution per person). And, in India’s case, total emissions (at 5 billion–6.5 billion tonnes) will remain well below China’s. “

Well below China does not mean that we shall be having a pollution free Country. With health -care still out of reach of millions and cultural propensity of not adhering to any civic sense, the massive pollution would only spell disaster for the country if not arrested. Alternative energy sources and energy efficiency  for continued development is the need of the hour. If we do what the article predicts the intense global pressure the UNFCCC members would be bearing upon us, would make trade difficult. And it is the youth of today who would face the hardships of trade embargo, which is sure to follow as man-made related Climate change problems rise.

Yes, while everyone knows that it is the Developed Nations which have created this mess,it does not give sanction to any other Nation to follow the foolish path of high carbon development model.

So coming back to the point, India must follow the full course it has set out under NAPCC and not get derailed by “smart economics” enshrined in crony capitalism. It is a superb Green Business Idea and the coming generation of young Indians will want India to follow this path as it would surely make our Nation First among equals. And it is logical, because the youths are more aware of the problems they would be facing – In 2010, climate-related extreme events and disasters affected some 300 million people, most often in countries which have little capacity to cope.

Young India is aware of this and  the disaster of Fukushima brought home by the TV has left an impression even on the minds of Rural India. Moreover the youth today are connected by social media and many have seen the video which shows how disaster has struck USA in the past year, while this video  was suggested by a young student to me, it is a bit dramatic but overall it has captured some of the worst disasters, which people around the World have faced in 2011. These events coupled with the increased awareness of Climate change, has been shifting the dynamics of thinking. Climate Resilient cities which the UN proposes becomes more and more acceptable idea, then it would have been 25 years ago. And to those youths on whose shoulders the future of this Nation would eventually rest, and are still skeptic about the effect of Humans activities on Climate , below  is a thought to ponder upon –

While it is very common, World over for young people to say ” I can’t live without my – car; dog; cell phone, shoe or fancy clothes etcetera. An Oxfam report suggested that by 2030, climate change could push food prices up by 50-90 percent more than they would otherwise be expected to rise. And then many would just seriously not be able to live. Because if there is one thing Human’s can’t live without – its food & water. It is the way all living things are, all need sustenance. So its time the “intelligent living beings” we like to call ourselves – learn about Sustainable living. And what could be better than “the smarter generation” which youths like to call themselves leading the way!


 

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Green Business Ideas – CDM methods for Steel Production.


The last Sunday I sat down to clear some “junk” which had accumulated over the years; books, old clocks, plastic pen holders, rusted paper-clips and tacks and most importantly PENS. Lots of pens. Plastic pens, Steel jacketed pens, dried out pen-refills and some steel jotter refills. Most of these I had been using during my school and college days. I don’t have much use of a pen today but buying that odd Parker or Mont Blanc can not be resisted. I hope those who would be reading this article may find some resonance in this.

High Schools are the reasons why many a Pen company not only survive but have flourished over time. Its usually their “pert” line which earn them the revenue. The most popular pen are either the very cheap use and throw types or the ones which a girl/boyfriend gifts during valentine. They are usually made of metal and have steel”jotter”refills. Even in the plastic bodied pens the plastic refill “nib” is made of steel.

English: Gold and Silver Parker Jotter Pencil

For example, The Parker Jotter is the Parker Pen Company‘s first and bestselling retracting refillable ballpoint pen. Later they added a fountain pen, mechanical pencil and rollerball pen that match its design. As with many other ballpoint pens, it can be turned into gel pen if its cartridge is changed. Since 1954, over 750 million have been sold worldwide.

A single company Parker has sold 750 million Jotter pens.  Assuming all the parts are steel, some tiny parts are not, but is negligible in comparative weight. So if it were to be all stainless steel, what would be the weight in steel? Lets calculate –

A Parker Jotter Pen, Stainless Steel, Medium Point, Black Ink (PAR13333) weighs 1.6 ounces**.

 1.6 ounces x 750000000 = 1200000000 ounces.

1 ounce = 28.3495231 grams. So the weight of 750 million pen = 34019427600 grams ie; 34019427.6 kg  = 34019. 43 metric ton.

That is a lot of Steel. And any one who would care to read what steel production entails and the amount of GHG it produces would at least appreciate that part of the process be reduced. Even though recycling steel may not in the present technology available to small industry be very useful both in economy and effectiveness in terms of GHG abatement, a start towards this can be done. http://www.epa.gov/climateleaders/documents/resources/ironsteel.pdf 

Now I’m sure there are many more Pen manufacturers big and small, who consume steel. And there must be many pens lying in dusty drawers or tossed away without a thought that the Earth is being plundered every minute to extract Iron ore, the raw material for manufacturing steel.

On the run-up to Rio+20 the UNFCCC  event, Green Business Ideas  are being sought by various organization. The simple collection and recycling of metallic Pens could provide an avenue for SME industry to contribute towards abatement of Climate change.  The tremendous benefit of reduced mining activity can not be highlighted enough.

The Micro -Small and Medium Enterprise is best suited for this task because an individual entrepreneur can take upon him/herself to collect discarded or unused metal pens from local schools & colleges and in the process even get to collect from the big corporate firms where the parents of the children work and discard their pens too. Re-rolled Steel or smelters are already a mature market.

The UNICEF which requires a lot of aid can find this as an interesting program and with the help of UNEP and UNFCCC  be able to generate a movement. What’s more, some pens which gather dust in the rich mans drawer may even be the first pen an under privileged child might cherish forever.

Note:** (as found in a website, http://www.amazon.com/Parker-Jotter-Stainless-Medium-PAR13333/dp/B001603YXI any error may kindly be excused, this article is not about any particular company or brand of pen and the above example is only to illustrate a point. )

 

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