One of the most exciting things about TRIZ and of course Innovation Boosters are for me their application in the green evolution. Thanks to @ellendomb on twitter for highlighting this terrific example from Gizmag.com.
The problem is that
speeding trains generate quite a bit of wind as they whoosh past
TRIZ teaches you to do a functional analysis of the entire ‘system’ and highlight the benefits (in green) and the harms (in red). So for example
the seat [SUBJECT] comforts the passenger [OBJECT] = BENEFIT
the engine [SUBJECT] moves the train [OBJECT] = BENEFIT
the body of the train [SUBJECT] pushes air onto the lines [OBJECT] = HARM
The challenge is therefore on to reduce this harmful flow of air, or at the very least turn it into a benefit.
In this example a second problem exists in that very remote villages electricity is very expensive to generate for simple applications like a light for a child to read and study beneath.
This is where analysing the problem in time and scale becomes so powerful as solving either the train problem or the village problem in isolation could be expensive. How about we treat the village together with its occasional whooshing trains as a supersystem. Now the whooshing wind becomes a resource.
An ingenious solution would be one which solves the problem using only available resources and uses the harm of one system (the train) to the benefit of the other (the remote village). Or indeed treat the village with occasional whooshing trains as a single supersystem.
Anyway, Hoorah to Qian Jiang and Alessandro Leonetti Luparini, two industrial designers, who have come up with a device that’s installed between the sleepers on a track, and as the train passes overhead, the wind drives a turbine to generate electricity.
If you look through the images in the report here it is clear that Qian and Alessandro are well aware of the storytelling component to selling the application of their invention. So it just leaves me to say well done, and wouldn’t it be amazing if we could use the power of TRIZ and Innovation Boosters to deliver many more ideas like this.
On a lighter note: It has always struck me that flushing a lavatory on the 14th floor of a London skyscraper is a real waste of energy. A large waterwheel could be erected on the side of the building and all the workers could go home with a bag of freshly ground flour on an evening.
On an even lighter note: Yesterday I was waiting at a railway crossing and as the East Coast train passed my phone jumped into action and said ‘wifi available’. If we could slow these whooshing trains down as they pass remote villages we would provide vital wifi access, but of course the power supply would drop to re-charge the phones.