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The items listed here are bits of technology I find "cool." I don't insist you accept my definitions. If you disagree, that's ok. On the other hand, if you come across something you think I might find "cool" drop me a line with a link to the defining web page. If I agree, I'll add the link and give you credit.

Table of Contents
Food & Water
Shelter
Utilities
  • Lenz-Turbine
  • Savonius-Turbine
Transportation
  • Softride Bicycle
  • Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator


Food & Water

Water Treatment

What it is... (Technical Description)

Vendors:
  • Monolithic Dome Institute; Italy, Texas

  • Advantages:
    • Cost. For less than $25 and the cost of two containers you can have pure water from an impure source during an emergency.
    • Low Tech. Works gravity fed or under pressure.
    • Simple. Filter has no moving parts. Store it until you need it.

    Disadvantages:
    • (none known)
      top of page ↑


    Shelter

    Monolithic Dome

    What it is... (Technical Description)

    Vendors:
    Advantages:
    • Cost. The materials (concrete, rebar and polyurethane foam) are more expensive than for a traditional house. However, their use is minimized due to the spherical shape. And once the airform is inflated, all construction is done "indoors," thus weather related time delays are minimized.
    • Durability. In 2003, a monolithic dome mosque in Iraq survived a direct hit by a 5000 lb. bomb. The interior of the structure was totally destroyed, but the dome itself remained standing (see reference & picture).
    • Earthquake and tornado resistant.. Analysis and Building Survivability.
    • Energy efficiency. 3+ plus inches of polyurethane foam makes for a well insulated home. The absence of corners and voids means less air infiltration. Cooled (or heated) air stays inside.
    • Fire resistant.
    • Thermal stability. With the insulation covering the exterior of the conrete shell, the home has a very large thermal mass. That damps out temperature swings. Once heated or cooled to the desired temperture, the dome reacts very slowly to outside temperature changes.
    • Tornado and hurricane resistant. Many monolithic domes are buried 30 feet under the ground and therefore must withstand pressures up to 2000 psf. A 300 mph wind blowing against a 30 foot tall flat walled building generates a pressure of 404 psf. A wind speed of 300 mph is considered a maximum for a tornado and far greater than the maximum generated by a hurricane.(Building Survivability)
    • Vermin resistant. Termites, rats, and squirrels don't eat or chew through concrete.

    Disadvantages:
    • Requires non-standard construction techniques.
    • Because it is very well sealed, environmental controls may be necessary. Even more so than for a tradional house, proper ventilation must be provided for functional fireplaces, gas and oil furnaces, and gas ranges.
      top of page ↑


    Utilities

    Wind Generated Electrical Power

    What it is... (Technical Description)
      Lenz Turbine. Vertical Axis Wind Turbine.
    Vendors:
    • (none known)

    Advantages:
    • VAWT. Vertical Axis Wind Turbines have the advantage of placing the alternator on or near the ground. This in turn reduces the required support structure and reduces the total construction cost.

    Disadvantages:
    • Wind is intermittant.
      top of page ↑

    Wind Generated Electrical Power

    What it is... (Technical Description)
      Savonius Turbine. Vertical Axis Wind Turbine designed
      for all types of environments.
    Vendors:
    Advantages:
    • VAWT. Vertical Axis Wind Turbines have the advantage of placing the alternator on or near the ground. This in turn reduces the required support structure and reduces the total construction cost.
    • Reliability. The Windside turbine is used in over 30 countries, and the locations range from the Nordic Sea, to the Sahara Desert to Antarctica. The Forgen turbine is use in Marine locations.
    • Quiet. Turbine speed does not exceed wind speed.
    • Wind Tolerant. Starts at low wind speeds. Handles high wind speeds, turbulence and changes in wind direction.
    • Visual Appeal. Definitely "cool" looking.

    Disadvantages:
    • Wind is intermittant.
      top of page ↑


    Transportation

    Softride Bicycle

    What it is... (Technical Description)
      Cantilevered top-tube Bicycle. The saddle attaches to a cantilevered top-tube.
    Vendors:
    Advantages:
    • Ride Comfort. On a double-metric (200km ~125 mile) bike ride met a rider who used an aftermarket conversion kit. Claimed he could do 200km after the conversion as easily as he could do 100km before. As a long-distance biker, I find seat pain is the limiting factor on any ride over 200 miles per day.

    Disadvantages:
    • (finding an actual vendor)
      top of page ↑

    Pneumatic Elevator

    What it is... (Technical Description)
      Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator. A residentual elevator that uses vacuum pneumatics to move the cab between floors.
    Vendors:
    Advantages:
    • Safety. Due to the advanced safety features, the vacuum elevator cannot fall. Also, during a power outage, the vacuum elevator will automatically return to the bottom floor.
    • Energy Efficincy. Zero energy consumption during descent, low when ascending with 220 volt turbines.
    • Cost. No pit, hatch or machine room to install.

    Disadvantages:
    • Maintenance. Exterior surface of cylinder attracks dust and needs periodic cleaning.
    • Maintenance. Pressure liner needs to be replaced every 15,000 trips to maintain acceptable speed.
    • Noise. 87 decibels. As loud as a food mixer, blender, or garbage disposal.
    • Size. The exterior cylinder is 37 inches in diameter. Most doors are 35.5 inches wide. Thus installation after construction can be complicated and may require the removal and re-installation of a window or door frame.
    • Weight Limit. Maximum weight capacity is 450 lbs.
      top of page ↑

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    Revised 2013.04.05 © 1997..2013 by Keith S. Brown