Buildings That Generate Their Own Energy

Every neuron has its own voltage level and the difference in voltage levels causes electrical synapses and hence knowledge flow across the neurons. Hence in a city inspired from neural network, each building should have a voltage level. The difference in the voltage levels can be used to drive car, trains and trams between the buildings. The easiest way of doing this is by generating it own energy. Here is some of my research on how can buildings generate electricity.

The Knowledge City

Here's a matt painting that I have done showing what the city might look like. Tower block the size of a typical city quarter, which generate their own electricty with floating windfarm, windmills, solar tower etc. Each tower is sourounded by forest, frams and gardens and with connected with a lean transport network.

City Plan

I am using the neural network as the base of my city plan. The knowledge stores are the neuron, hence they are site for the vertical quarters. These are connected by a lean transport network and the rest of the space is left unchanged. It can be a forest that existed before the city was built or farms or gardens or lakes. Hence the city doesn't displace nature but instead grows as a part it.

Inspiration -The Neural Network

I instinctively look towards nature for inspiration. The neural network is nature's answer to store and transfer knowledge in an efficient way.

Context - 2025 - The Knowledge Age

I firmly believe that products should be designed with due consideration to their context. Hence I need to decide a context for my city.
I have come decide the context as Asia 2025. The being that it not too far making the poject a work in fantasy and not too close and hence becoming handicapped by current technology.
Now that I have the context, I am trying to identify the social landscape. From our point of view the social landscape depends on the fundamental role of humans in it. We refer the human role as an age example prehistoric age, stone age, iron age etc.
Today according to me we are seeing the demise of industrial age. As the role of humans as carriers of manual skill is getting challenged. More and more people especially in the new economies are becoming carriers of knowledge like programmer in a IT, designers, consultants etc. And thus causing the rise of The Knowledge Age.

Glimmer Of Hope - SEZ's Special Economic Zones

Chinese and Indian government are developing hundreds of Special Economic Zones (SEZ's) across these countries. SEZ's are like green field mini cities where people relocate in search of work and a better life.
Hence the urbanisation of Asia provides us with great challenges and opportunities. It does challenge the sustainability of our current model of economic growth. But on the other hand gives us the chance to design a new urban space from a clean piece of paper, based on our new knowledge and concern for sustainable development.

Problem Redefinition

Finished writing the memoire of my research titled-Asia, Transportation and Sustainability. Now I think trying to create sustainable cars is the wrong approach to sustainability.
As long as the car runs in a city designed for horse carriages, it carries its own 20% efficient engine, it carries energy to last 700 miles when the average travel is just 50 miles, it provides 5 times more space than require, it weighs 10 to 30 more than the single occupant normally sat in it and soon on, the car will never achieve maximum efficiency and hence maximum sustainability.
The only way of achieving true sustainability will be rethinking the whole system. Thinking at macro level and not micro level, thinking of the context, the people, the urban fabric, the energy structure, the transportation network, the materials before thinking of the car.

Urbanisation Map BBC



The King Around Every Corner

Today most of the cars are used by a single occupant, be it a 2 seater smart, 5 meter long coupe or a 7 seater SUV. Hence an SUV weighing 2000 kgs is used to carry a person weighing 70 kgs. This means the vehicle is about 28 times heavier than the occupant it carries.
The situation can be visualised better in another way. Imagine 28 people carrying a king on there shoulders. Only problem being that instead of one king in a kingdom, there's a king around every corner. Infact there are millions of these kings trapped in a traffic jam right at this moment.

End to end automotive efficiency

Efficiency of cars measured often measured by fuel efficiency is misleading. Because it only considers the user end efficiency. Today an average petrol engine is about 35% percent efficient at its best point, but is only 20 percent efficient in urban driving. But many short trips with cold engine, amplified by cold weather and aggressive driving, significantly worsen fuel consumption, as do substantial time spent with the engine idling and losses in transmission. These real-world driving phenomena reduce the engine’s average efficiency so that only about 10 percent of chemical energy stored in the fuel tank actually drives the wheels. Hence out of the 100 units of chemical energy given to the car, only 10 units are available to drive the car.
Now an average sedan is about 1500 kgs, a driver and a passenger is about 150 kgs. This means that the car is about times heavier than the people it is transporting, hence 9 units of the 10 remaining units of energy were used to push the car and 1 unit was used to push the two people around. Hence the real world end to end efficiency of the automotive system is just 1%.
We truly need a revolution in power-trains and vehicle structure, if the automotive systems are to be made more viable.
Source: Scientific American 2007

Alien's Perspective of our automotive network

If tomorrow aliens land on our planet, what will they think, lets try and see things from their perspective.
Here is a civilization, where people work for about 5 days a week, for more that half of their life. Every morning they travel up to work and evening they travel back. To travel lot of them use a device called a 'car', an assembly of metal, plastic, rubber, leather and fabric, put together with nuts, bolts and some glue. This car could weight as much as 28 times the weight of the people inside and have five times more space than required most of the times.
These cars run on roads made of concrete and asphalt, which runs across like veins all over the planet. Except for few hours twice a day these roads are empty andunderutilised for most of the day. These hours are called peak traffic hours, when the roads are clogged with almost stationary cars.
Today some of these cars are capable of running at 400 kilometer per hour and most of them are capable of 200 kilometers per hour. But strangely in most of the cities when these cars is required the most, they travel at an average speed, just little bit over the human walking speed.
Hence after 100 years of progress, clogging the skies, eyes and lungs with smoke and pollution, changing the temperature of the planet itself, all humans have been able to do is travel at speeds few times faster that walking.
From an alien's perspective out automotive network doesn'tseem as glorious a we will like it to be.

My Dilemma - Oct 2007

  • Asian economies are booming, clocking 8% growth on GDP on average in the last decade
  • Per capita income is rising and demand for cars is growing too, upto 20% per year. India, China together stand at 2.4 billion people hence this demand is huge.
  • Today the American and European vehicle ownership stands at 600-750 vehicles per 1000 persons, and the current global vehicle fleet stands at 775 million.
  • Global warming and sustainability: 25% contribution to global warming and pollution is from transportation and transportation industry.
  • Transportation industry also a major consumer of petroleum and petroleum products like plastics, rubber, asphalt etc and of iron, steel, aluminium too.
  • Oil peak: Today we know that world oil production will peak in between 2007-2008 and the decline after is inevitable. Infact oil production will be 90% less by 2019. This means we will have lesser and lesser of not only petroleum to drive our vehicles but less material to build them too.
  • What happens to the world if India and China, because of growth, reach the level of American and European vehicle ownership, this means adding 1.5 billion new vehicles i.e. a 200% increase in global vehicle fleet.
  • With the constraints presented above this seem physically impossible. This planet simply doesn't have enough resources to create such a future with current model of transportation.
  • But the need for transportation in these countries is very real and the future of millions depend on it.
  • Public transportation might provide part of the solution but reduces personal freedom constrains free will and ignore social value of cars.
How to create a more sustainable transportation system for the new Asian economies, without compromising personal freedom?