An article in the eCatNews.com What-If? Series. The following suspends any disbelief.
Let us assume that very soon we will be on our way to a pollution-free, inexhaustible and inexpensive, cold fusion future. It sets the mind spinning.
We often talk about the possible financial, geopolitical, environmental and social implications, but what about enterprise and invention? Most agree that, while there will be blood on the carpet and many losers, there is also a good chance that we’ll get an adrenalin shot to the heart of the world economy. Remember the overblown dotcom bubble? One of the main drivers of that situation was confusion. While hundreds of thousands of early adopters knew what it was all about, they were swamped by the horde who suddenly feared that they would miss the gold. Thousands of high net-worth individuals were desperate to board the elevator but had no idea where they were going.
Wind forward. You are part of a miniscule set; aware and mentally preparing yourselves for the coming change. This time, many of the benefits are obvious: We love to dream of clean water for everyone and the end of wars for oil. I love that dream too and will talk about it again in a future article. For now, I wonder about immediate inventive solutions. Whenever a major change happens, a wave of innovation follows. Cars led to cat’s eyes. Electricity led to tens of thousands of products. Books led to libraries.
So, keeping things practical, what do you think might follow? Be aware: if you have a billion dollar idea and post it here, the public will own it and no one – including you – can patent it.
As an example: I would like to see a tiny eCat. At the moment, we imagine a hefty boiler heating some circulating fluid. This makes sense to get things moving. Functionally similar to existing boilers, it is easy to marry to current infrastructure. Remove a conventional boiler from the design, substitute an eCat, connect it to the installed pipes and we’re good to go.
If, instead, we had a small sugar-cube (sized) heater that could talk to others of its kind, you could distribute them round the room or under the floorboards. They could clip together to replace a traditional radiator, fine control effected by turning units on and off through the inbuilt switch with simple remote intelligence. [Note that this would only work if the reaction was so understood that stamping out the device by the billion would lead to stable and predictable results.]
In this way, we get rid of the extra expense of the plumbing. A hot water unit could be made from the same cubes. At first, this would appear to be more expensive but it could easily be far cheaper than the current approach, turning the heat source into a universal commodity churned out by the billion. Small units would snap together to make medium power devices, medium units join to create beefy ones.
I can see lots of problems with this imagined approach but believe the benefits of mega-mass-market production might make it worth someone’s candle to try solving them.
You might argue that clumping these things together will lead to poor thermal response and I would agree. Perhaps those needing that quality could slot into a lattice piping water between and around each one. We get the commodity benefits with versatility.
Then there is control. How is it powered? What about recharging? Could future developments lead to tiny devices that last for years? If yes and each cube only costs a few dollars you simply swap them out as needed like ultra-lasting thermal batteries.
The biggest issue may be radiation and other aspects of safety. Reducing the surface/volume ratio would mean that each tiny device had to support relatively more shielding. DGT seems to get round that problem but it would require investigation.
Please feel free to rip this apart. I am not married to it but wanted to start the conversation. What is your idea? Rent an eCat – installed free for a monthly fee smaller than the current fuel bill? Tiny modules that can warm feet or something to roll out following a disaster? No matter what, where do you see the problems and what are the potential solutions?
Let’s have some fun with this.<< Previous Post -- -- Next post >>