Posts belonging to Category Inventions Edison Would Love



Thomas Edison Would Recognize Roosevelt Island Tech Center

When Thomas Edison established his legendary West Orange Labs, everything was focused around team-based solution of problems, and making the invention process easy and conducive, with plenty of intellectual and physical resources co-located for convenience. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a similar philosophy in mind, and just recently, September 13, 2017, a new high-tech birthing place was dedicated on Roosevelt Island.

To anticipate a future New York City where small, nimble, high tech companies would be based in the heart of the city, back in 2010 Bloomberg invited top-flight universities to compete to open an applied-science graduate center. Cornell University and its partner, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, were declared the winners and awarded $100 million along with a stretch of city-owned land on iconic and historic Roosevelt Island. Bloomberg’s business model for this was Silicon Valley where founders of great companies often did so in the shadow of the schools they attended. Today, the first residents of this vision have arrived on this unique campus.

Cornell Tech campus in architectural rendering

Cornell Tech campus in architectural rendering

The tech center campus is comprised of three buildings: the Academic Building–a contemporary office structure; the House, a high-rise that will be a mix of graduate student and faculty housing; and the Bridge, will host work spaces and classrooms for Cornell Tech in about 30 percent of the building, while the rest will be leased to companies by the building’s owner, Forest City New York. The buildings incorporate ample energy efficiency considerations and alternate energy technologies. Through his charitable organization, Bloomberg has given an additional $100 million to this project, re-naming the Academic Building the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center, in honor of his daughters.

First phase of Cornell Tech nears completion

First phase of Cornell Tech nears completion

Daniel Huttenlocher, the dean and vice provost of Cornell Tech, described the Bridge as the physical embodiment of the institution’s goal of bringing together academia and industry. “Academic excellence here is necessary, but not sufficient,” Dr. Huttenlocher said. “You also need to be engaged with the commercial or societal aspect of your work.”

Though the campus is only about one-third built — two other major phases of construction are to follow by the year 2037, by agreement with the city — it has the nascent feel of its own little community, as well as a grassy green where students can sprawl, amid impressive views.

Thomas Edison said, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Hyperloop Revisited — the Edison Spirit Alive and Well

Prologue
Almost exactly four years ago, we ran a story about Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept, a pod based, rapid transit system to traverse long distances. Original literature discussed being able to traverse Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 30 minutes. The article below updates our readers on the significant advances since then.

Original concept drawing for a Hyperloop pod

Original concept drawing for a Hyperloop pod

Imagine a pod that will someday carry human passengers and probably freight too, something that resembles a bus with 16 retractable wheels….perhaps 28 feet long, pointed at the business end, composed of aluminum and fiber composites. Load this structure into a an 11 foot concrete test tube evacuated of air, and shoot it down the track using an electromagnetic propulsion system –think magnetic levitation (Mag-Lev)- and record the results. How about 192 mph in about 5 seconds!

Hyperloop test pod

Hyperloop test pod

Check-out a recent test of the pod and test track:
https://www.teslarati.com/hyperloop-one-192-mph-test-video/

All this work adds up to what engineers call a “proof of concept”; and now the details get filled in to make it practical…and that means lots of hard core engineering tempered with tough-minded business analysis. There will be lots of coordination with safety and environmental agencies, and discussions and analyses to determine where to locate such facilities, the location of station stops, the ergonomics of passenger travel and lots more.

Maybe we shall see these lines located along established high voltage power line rights of way. It makes sense. Those lines move “electrons” (electricity) between populations centers, so why not move people and freight the same way? Perhaps such lines can parallel roads or railroad rights of way too. No doubt there will be very many interesting questions and points of view to be addressed and various constraints to be dealt with.

Thomas Edison would applaud the work done so far and anxiously await more progress!

Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Thomas Edison Salutes a New Form of Energy Storage

Since the 1920s about 2% of the world’s electrical capacity has been supplied by pumped hydro installations. These massive hydroelectric storage batteries can respond within seconds, and improve overall grid efficiency. However hydroelectric facilities can be severely site limited; and cause significant impacts on the environment.

Typical hydroelectric pumped storage facility is a large scale, environmentally intense project

Typical hydroelectric pumped storage facility is a large scale, environmentally intense project

What if we had a large storage device that could be recycled indefinitely with no lasting environmental concerns either? Furthermore, what if something else could be used instead of water, with little environmental impact?

Such a concept is called the Advanced Rail Energy Storage system (ARES); and a 50 MW utility-size system is now in operation in southern Nevada. Check it out. The system is also much cheaper than traditional pumped hydro facilities.

An ARES “shuttle train”

An ARES “shuttle train”

ARES energy storage technology employs a fleet of electric traction drive shuttle-trains, operating on a closed low-friction automated steel rail network to transport a field of heavy masses [rocks, concrete, etc.] between two storage yards at different elevations.

During periods where excess energy is available on the grid, ARES shuttle-trains draw electricity from the grid, which powers their individual axle-drive motors, as they transport a continuous flow of masses (rock/concrete) uphill against the force of gravity to an upper storage yard. When the grid requires energy to meet periods of high demand, this process is reversed. The shuttle-trains provide a continuous flow of masses returning to the lower storage yard with their motors operating as generators, converting the potential energy of the mass’s elevation back into electricity in a highly efficient process.

At the Nevada site, shuttle trains move up and down a change of about 3,000 feet. At the end of the system’s 40-year lifetime, the rails are removed followed by regrading of the land back to original conditions—no lasting environmental impacts. Think about this … large wind turbines could also supply the excess energy to charge up this energy storage system!

Edison’s original electric storage batteries can be considered tiny portable pumped hydro facilities. He realized his electric utility equipment would function more efficiently if it could run all the time, even with the daily ups and downs of electric demand. Energy storage would make it possible to charge batteries for use later during the day … in electric vehicles. Certainly, Edison would like this innovative ARES concept!

Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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