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Magazine Editorial

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Category Ideas
Title It Begins with an Idea
Details We place limits on our imagination, while seeking solutions to everyday problems. But then, some children don’t learn to give up. They dream. They think of ways in which current problems like the energy crisis, environmental pollution and water scarcity can be overcome. Some of their ideas may stretch the realms of probable and make them dream of the impossible. When the thought is there, the action and results are not always far behind. Let us see the ideas which children have dreamt for solving so many problems around us. Conservation and regeneration of electricity seems to be of great concern for many of these young minds. And they are full of new and innovative ideas to conserve and generate power. Bilal Adbi suggests that the fan can be used to generate electricity, based on the concept of windmills. Medha Tyagi, from Delhi develops this idea and suggests that a generator should be attached to the base of the fan. This will begin to rotate as the fan rotates and produce electricity.1 Jayakumar Patel of Dang suggests that small check-dams can be used to generate electricity. Turbines can be placed at appropriate places and can be attached to a generator, so that electricity is produced and can meet the rural requirements. Ronak K Patel has an idea to place a rotator in place of the bumps on roads, so that whenever vehicles move on the road, energy is produced.2 There are more innovative ideas for producing electricity. Mayur P Salat of Gandhinagar suggests that two magnets be placed in the soles of the shoe, so that by the principle of attraction and repulsion, electricity can be generated as we walk. Roshni Patel of Dang is also interested in the idea of generation of electricity while walking. She suggests that a partition be created at the base of the shoe, and filled with water. A turbine is placed in the water. As we walk, the turbine rotates and causes disturbance in the water. This can be used to generate electricity which can be used to recharge mobile phones. Interestingly, the idea of hydroelectric power generating shoes has been tried and a US patent has been granted for the product (Patent No. 6,239,501 to Robert Komarechka, 29 May, 2001), proving that the idea does have merit.3 Dipen Patel of Mehsana has ideas for a human powered, energy generation machine. The machine will consist of a big forked wheel, to which five smaller wheels are attached. A second layer of three smaller wheels is also attached to each of the five wheels. There is a total of 21 wheels, all of which will rotate when the big wheel is rotated. The big wheel can be rotated with a pedal. If a dynamo is attached to each of these wheels, then electricity can be generated. It is also an employment opportunity for people. 4 Kishan Gadhavi of Patan wants to use diesel engines used by farmers for irrigation to generate electricity. According to him, a diesel engine is connected to the pump set for pumping water from the check dams. If a dynamo is connected to the other axle of the set, this will recharge the battery. This can be used to light bulbs in farms where there is no electricity. The farmers can also sell the battery for profit. A similar idea was shared with NIF by Dr. A Jagadeesh, an energy expert. Nirav Purohit has an idea to use solar energy to iron clothes. According to him, wooden plates can be coated with black and exposed to the sun. As they absorb a lot of heat, they can be used to iron clothes. Shaileshbhai Kesha, of Nadiad, has an idea to make a chemical which will store the sun’s energy when the pen is being used during the day. This energy can be used to generate light while writing at night. Niraj Atulkumar Shukla has ideas for a hybrid vehicle which runs not only on petrol or diesel, but can also simultaneously harness solar energy and wind energy for use. Wastage of water is a primary cause for concern for Meera Bhatt, resident of Porbander. She suggests that buckets be attached to each other through folding pipes to prevent overflow of water from the buckets. This avoids the cumbersome process of using big vessels for storing water also. Ravi P Patel of Ahmedabad is concerned with the wastage of electricity when fans are switched on in places where there is nobody around. According to him, a source of sound releasing waves which cannot be heard be placed near the fan. If there is anybody within a 5 meter radius, the waves get reflected. Otherwise, the fan will automatically switch off. This system can also be disconnected from the fan if necessary.5 These ideas were shared with us during a lecture on Creativity at Grassroots, as part of the Vacation Training Program on Bio-resources for School Children conducted at IIM Ahmedabad. Another interaction was organized when children from various districts of Gujarat visited us through the Science City in Ahmedabad. More and more such interactions and competitions for ideas need to be encouraged to provoke children to come up with innovative ideas. These ideas can be further explored by the adults in both formal and informal science circles. It might just be a breeding ground for some startling and revolutionary inventions. Shall we start taking children more seriously? We are grateful to Mr. S D Vora, Director, Gujarat Science City, and his colleagues for bringing bright young science students of the state to interact with us. Ed Footnotes 1 Some models of fans, which generate electricity for purposes like lighting a bulb have also been used. In fact fans are primarily used to demonstrate the action of the wind turbines (see http://www.otherpower.com/toymill.html). 2 The idea of vehicles or even human beings producing electricity while moving is not new. NIF has rewarded such ideas from over two dozen creative individuals (www.nifindia.org/ideanif.html). NIF awardee Kanak Das has also designed a bicycle where energy is generated, everytime the cycle travels over a road bump (see http://www.nifindia.org/ secondaward/ details/ energy.htm for details). 3 The general principle of generation of electricity while walking, is also gaining popularity, with many formal scientific institutions engaged in researching on the idea. There have also been some prototypes developed. For instance, SRI International, a US based firm has developed a prototype of resin voltage conversion film in a pair of shoes. When the sole comes in contact with the ground, pressure is applied on the voltage conversion film and electricity can be generated (http://neasia.nikkeibp.com/archive_magazine/nea/200308/conele_259890.php). The MIT media lab is also working on harnessing the energy generated while walking through the use of various sophisticated devices (http://csdl2.computer.org/persagen/DLAbsToc.jsp?resourcePath=/dl/mags/mi/&toc=comp/mags/mi/2001/03/m3toc.xml&DOI=10.1109/40.928763. But Indian children have started to think of such ideas much earlier. Three students from Shimla, Pankaj Sharma, Puja Sharma and Sunil Kumar were awarded by the Honorable President in the Second Annual Award function for a similar idea. An innovator from Jharkhand has also come up with a similar idea (see www.nifindia.org/presentation/ele_7.html , www.nifindia.org/presentation/ele_15.html and www.nifindia.org/second award/details/innovators/18rajesh.html). 4 The concept of pedal powered electricity generation is not new. There have been many devises to help generate energy from pedaling. Recently, Job S Ebenezer has designed an attachment to bicycles to generate electricity from pedaling (http://www.home.messiah.edu/injebeneze.) 5 The idea of occupancy sensors has been gaining popularity in recent years, specially in the light of the world wide energy crisis. The primary technology used in occupancy sensors is either Passive Infra Red technology or Ultrasound technology. The ultrasound technology is similar to Ravi’s idea (http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/components/lighting/lightingcontrols/occupancysensors.html).
Volume No. Honey Bee, 16(3):11-12, 2005