Archive for the ‘ Place related ’ Category

India Shining – Construction projects abroad

Gulf news featured an article recently about how Reliance has won a project in the USA for working out GAS processing of a huge Gas deposit along with Atlas Energy. India’s Reliance Industries will join hands with Atlas Energy and pick up a 40 per cent stake in Atlas’s operations in the Marcellus Shale. This natural gas project could hold enough natural gas to satisfy US demand for a decade. The project spans parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.

Reliance, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has been working hard to expand its presence outside India, break into new markets and broaden its various businesses including refining, oil and gas exploration and petrochemicals. I started discussing the same with my friends here, and together we realized that it seems to be like a small trend that is growing.

India has been known for a long time for its software exports as well as agricultural produce, the technology sector including hardware design with the Notion Ink and the Pi also seem to be racing ahead. But a lesser known sector of construction, EPC Contractors (i.e. Engineering, Procurement and Construction) is slowly but surely making its presence felt around the world. Snooping around the internet I found wuite some good examples of companies from India making a mark abroad in EPC.

Starting with Dubai, Dubai’s construction market is mostly comprised of South African companies, but the Electrical engineering world is dominated completely by ETA, a company based in Dubai but owned and operated by a huge Indian work force. Larsen & Tubro are making their presence felt, so is Voltas. Punj Lloyd, Tata Projects and Reliance are now taking major strides in taking over the Dubai Construction scene. The middle east is checkered with projects from the above companies. Moving along, the Indian companies are getting into markets like Europe and Africa at large. Reliance’s entry into US is a good sign.

Having such world class Indian Companies working the ambitions of Indian Architect and developers is making the developments in India world class as well. What still eludes me is why Indian Infrastructure is still so bad ?????

Green Parking spots, the need of the hour.

Cars have increased over the past few years and along with them the services that are required to cater to the car market. The biggest of these is Parking Lots. Parking lots are not only a ugly blob on the landscape, but ecologically they replace in most cases the environment around that area with tarmac and then infuse the area with more car exhaust smoke killing anything that has a chance of growing around the area as well. With more and more people getting aware about the budding environmental issues, companies and designers are continuously thinking of new ideas that promote the use of clean energy. Industrial designers have always dreamt about the possibilities of solar-powered parking lots that not only recharge with clean energy but also generate electricity for lighting purpose. Car parking lots of the future are definitely going to be much more than just storage areas for our vehicles. The image of the Volkswagen Automated Parking system sparked the interest to find similar or better green parking designs around the world. Here we have some of the best green car parking concepts. The list also includes green car parking lots that have already been set up at some places. A note, most of the designs are from the Think Outside the Parking Box competition organized by Designboom and Nissan.

Volkswagen factory Automated Parking system

This is a picture that is circulating the internet for a very long time, and for the most part I thought it was a render of a parking solution which is a bit futuristic in design. I was bowled over to see that this is actually in use and it makes use of only 20% of the space of a conventional parking space for similar capacity. The robotic sorting and storage system is a remarkable engineering marvel. I would love to see a lot more of these in the world, at least in Dubai as parking is a nightmare here. Add to that, its ecologically friendly also.

Japan

If at all there was a country in the world that is synonymous with innovation it would have to be Japan. They take the quote, “Necessity is the mother of all inventions” to the extreme next step. All over Japan there are awesome examples of how car parking is handled in the city. Here are some pictures from the interwebs. Select few are displayed here : http://www.pbase.com/selsadek10/parking_in_japan

Green P parking system:

Designer: Algis Berziunas and Laima Rimkute

The concept is based on the decentralization of parking systems into many smaller spots that can be placed in unused spaces such as under flyovers and bridges. The Green P system also includes a lighting system that can replace or supplement ordinary road lights by charging them with solar energy generated by panels installed on the Green P’s roof. Check out some of the renders below :

More on a city wide

The Eco Parking lot:

Design: Green Corridor

Bringing environmental technologies and green design practices under one roof is the Eco Parking Lot. The stylish design will incorporate green plantation and stormwater remediation technology making it more efficient while maximizing greening potential. This visual treat with special student parking will benefit the Community and city of Windsor. The Eco Parking Lot will utilize environmental technologies and green design practices to create a hardscape that is practical and innovative. The surrounding community will benefit from the additional planting, stormwater remediation technology and designated student parking. The stylized layout of the parking lot acts to make parking more efficient while maximizing greening potential within the lot. As another aesthetic marker for the Community and city of Windsor, the Eco Parking Lot will utilize current dormant space to provide a welcomed service for its users and neighbors.

The Solar Forest Concept

Designer: Neville Mars

As the name suggests, this concept brings trees like structures into action. The Solar Forest Concept consists of trees that are made up of photovoltaic leaves, whose sole purpose is to collect solar power. At the truck of each tree is a power outlet that is used to charge up electric vehicles. Apart from providing charge, the photovoltaic leaves also gives shade to the cars. Instead of having parking lots filling the urban landscape, the Solar Forest offers shade, free EV charging, solar energy generation while simultaneously greatly improving the appearance of the urban landscape. Check out the YouTube video below:

90 degrees vertical parking system

Designer: Baita Bueno

The 90 degrees vertical parking system, one-of-a-kind parking concept parks your car vertically. While you tuck your vehicles into the parking lot, the panels on the flip-side pursue the solar vigor to energize the reclining motor or just keeps piling on for some better use in future. Along with power generation, the unique system allows three cars to park vertically where normally a single car is parked. I remember vividly the scenes from iRobot starring Will Smith. They had these shown, was really impressed. Again, now since this might be coming to life it will be an awesome addition anyway. More pics below:

The Solasis Light Tower:

Designer: Klaud Wasiak and Yongbang Ho

Here is a concept offshore parking area that generates solar energy to recharge electric cars and add valuable juice to the grid. This renewable energy generating parking lot is equipped with a solar power concentrating tower that uses the windshields and hoods of cars as sun tracking and concentrating mirrors. Drivers of the vehicles will also have the option to either use the underground metro line to get back to the city center from the offshore location or walk into the city.

Solar parking Concept:

Designer: Nejur Andrei

Romanian designer Nejur Andrei’s Solar Parking Concept is an impressive perception, for it offers a dual solution to parking and charging of electric vehicles as well. What the design proposes is the wireless transmission of charge from the solar canopy to the charging coil embedded in the asphalt and later, to the car battery.

After sensing an electric car parked, the parking system automatically starts the wireless charging process. The underground battery pack passes this charge on to the multiple charging coils just below the parked car and from here, a receiving coil integrated under the car sucks that charge up. Once the car’s battery is full, the sensors embedded in the asphalt stop the charging process.

Solaire Parking Canopy:

Design: Solaire Generation

Solaire Generation proudly revealed the Solaire Parking Canopy at the Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco, CA. This innovative creation is a modular system that converts the underutilized open parking lots into power plants by providing ingenious structure for PV solar panels. Solaire Generation aims to revolutionize the solar parking lot market with its innovative design. The key features of the Solaire Parking Canopy include Outputs high energy regardless of geographic orientation, Acts as a grey water system, Well-suited for all solar panels and films, Solid steel decking, Dual charging facility – electric and fuel, Establish pioneering advertising space,

This multi-featured unique creation makes Solaire Generation America’s leading provider of solar parking canopies. Apart from the canopy, the company has also developed the Solaire Tree. The solar powered tree shaped structure has a seating at the bottom that could act as a wireless and solar charging station.

Santa Monica Civic Center parking structure:

The building does meet or exceed many of the US Green Building Council’s LEED guidelines. A solar photovoltaic array on the roof provides shade for top level parking and on-site renewable energy. The materials used in construction were recycled and finished with low-VOC paints and finishes. The building envelope utilizes low-e glazing to decrease heating and cooling loads and the mechanicals are energy efficient. A storm-drain water-treatment system helps reduce tainted runoff from directly entering the hydrosphere and greywater harvesting provides for landscaping and on-site facilities.

The Santa Monica Civic Center garage provides 900 parking spaces throughout six above ground stories and 1 ½ below ground levels. Of those 900 spaces, 14 (or less than 2%) are devoted to electric vehicles with public electrical outlets. There’s also free bicycle storage available to “encourage alternate transportation modes.”

Dell’s headquarters parking lot

Any of us who have left their car in a sunny parking lot for a few hours and returned to an oven-like interior know that there’s a lot of wasted energy right there. To make matters worse, we usually then crank up the A/C to compensate, increasing the environmental damage.

Well, here’s a clever way to leave cars in shade and generate electricity at the same time: A solar-power-gathering parking lot. Above is a shot of a “Solar Grove” built by Envision Solar for Dell Computer’s corporate headquarters in Texas. The panels not only generate juice for the facility, but are also connected to two CleanCharge stations that electric vehicles can plug into. Check out the concept video below:

Romag’s PowerPark canopy

The PowerPark canopy at Romag’s headquarters in Consett generates enough juice to power the EVs parked under it. It is capable of producing 1.5kW of peak power in optimal conditions. It has been designed to be linked to the National Grid, so any power generated but not pumped into an e-car can be utilized in a more efficient manner.

Oorja power, an Indians Invention taking on Bloom Box

Bloom Box is the brain child of an Indian, Mr. K R Sridhar who used to work at NASA and found that Fuel Cells using the right potent fuel for its input can be used to run entire house holds. Now Another Indian Mr. Sanjiv Malhotra is now looking to challenge the invention with another invention of his own which uses Methanol as the input fuel to generate clean electricity for the homes. Yes you read it right, two people from the sub continent in USA are working on technologies that can change the face of the earth.

With stationary fuel cells hot again, Oorja Protonics is jumping into the market. In a few months, the company, which specializes in methanol fuel cells, will release a fuel cell capable of generating 5 kilowatts of power, enough to run a home or small business or to provide backup power to cell towers. It’s somewhat small in size, as well. Check out the video: the 5-kilowatt fuel cell fits on top of a gurney. It is about the same size as a 500-watt device Oorja produced a few years back, then the market for this technology did not really exist. “This will sit on large forklifts. You could use it for auxiliary power for trucks, RVs or marine applications, or for off-grid power for homes or farms,” said CEO Sanjiv Malhotra. “This opens up a plethora of other markets.” For larger applications, the fuel cells can be chain-ganged together. Connect twenty of them and they would be capable of generating 100 kilowatts of power — as much energy as the recently unfurled Bloom Energy Server. Check out the video below.

Methanol is one of the mostly commonly produced chemicals in the world, costs about $1 to $2 a gallon and doesn’t have to be transported under pressure so it’s easy to ship. Many car manufacturing plants already have large tanks on site to store methanol because it’s the same chemical as windshield washer fluid. Methanol would be delivered to plants that don’t have large tanks in large plastic drums. Methanol also has environmental advantages over lead acid batteries. Oorja claims a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions even if the methanol for its fuel cells were produced from coal liquification or natural gas. But methanol can also be made using non-food biowaste, which would virtually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Malhotra founded Oorja, which means energy in Sanskrit, in 2005. The Fremont-based company employs about 35 and Aug. 25 announced a 60-unit sale to a Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tenn. Nissan has tested Oorja’s products for the last 18 months. Malhotra studied fuel cells in graduate school two decades ago, first at the University of Iowa and then at the University of California, Berkeley. “Back then, nobody had heard of fuel cells,” he said. “I remember looking for a job after I finished my Masters and people were sending me to gas stations.” After completing a Ph.D., Malhotra worked at H Power, where he landed an $81 million sale for H Power’s propane fuel cells. The company went public in 2000, raising $100 million and selling in 2002. After tiring of early retirement, Malhotra founded Oorja.

India leading the way in Telecom “Greening” process

Its rare to see developing nations showing the way to developed nations about new technologies and new methodologies. India on the other hand, has been making the transition very smoothly to a developing Nation to a slow developed nation in its own rights. And this time around the Government is making strides as well, which means it is not the Sleeping tiger stage but the waking stage.. lol. On a much more serious note, after taking on a huge responsibility to produce 20GW of renewable energy by 2020, India’s energy ministry seems to be making progress. Firstly the National Solar Mission announced that they will work on the world’s largest solar power plant through a joint venture between Airvoice Group, an Indian mobile phone and commodity export firm, and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, a a joint venture between the governments of India and the district of Himachal Pradesh. They expect that over $50 billion will be invested over the next 10 years to make the project a reality.

If the news above does not make you go wow, feast your eyes on the second bit. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Indian government is likely to come out with a mandate that would require telecom operators to transform their cellphone towers from being powered by diesel generators to solar panels. This may not seem like such a big deal until you think about the numbers – India has approximately 500 million mobile phone subscribers (more than the population of any country except China) and still continues to be one of the two fastest growing telecom markets. That means that even more cellphone towers are going to be set up in the near future. India has more than 250,000 cellphone towers which consume 3-5 kilowatts power depending on the number of operators using the tower. These towers consume about 2 billion litres of diesel every year.  According to Cleantechnica, the switch over to solar power translates to a reduction of 5 million tons of CO2 emissions as well as a savings of $1.4 billion!

More and more initiatives like trying to make the government buildings green, and aiming higher so that the self proclaimed milestone can be reached; can be seen in recent newspaper articles. Its great to see the sleeping tiger slowly awakening. However, considering the vastness of the country and the plagues of apathy and irresponsibility, its going to have to wake up quicker and move swiftly.

Via CleanTechnica

Where is Innovation required in India – i.e Where is the money ?

This is a question that has been asked before and a lot of people and companies are striving to get the answer to this. India is a big country with varying socio economic sectors, each with a different requirement than the other. However the numbers is each sector would dictate what sector is the best sector for the maximum market reach or most profit.  Here are my views on where is the real market for an aspiring service or company in India.

First things first, to categorize India into sectors is very difficult. There are many factors and many conditions that dictate what the consumers need and where is the best place to work. But, largely based on the socio economic front there can be 5 distinct sectors in India.

  1. The Very Rich
  2. The Consuming Class
  3. The Climbers
  4. The Aspirants
  5. The Survivors

The first and second sectors are the ones that expect the products and services the same as that of the developed countries. For the most part, the rest of the sectors are only aspiring to achieve any sort of service that can be there. This is the real market for an aspiring new company. The majority of enterprises in the Climbers or aspirant sectors have ten or fewer employees, and are the main contributors of employment for the poor. Hence micro-entrepreneurs form the backbone of economies in these regions, and their development is crucial for socioeconomic improvement in a country like India.

The climbers / Aspirants and Survivors form the largest sector of the country. In India these sectors represent the sleeping tiger, which is the part of the country which has the most potential but still have to deal with infrastructural requirements that plague the country. There are great markets that can be worked on considering the sharp downfall of the government to provide these services to people:

POWER : For instance, for many it still is a daily struggle to get enough electricity to go about their daily lives. Those living in rural areas or in urban slums simply don’t have electricity. This could be addressed by integrating new battery technology, solar recharging, low-power technologies, or via devices that automatically utilize other ways of charging or saving power that are still being explored.

LITERACY : The UN estimates that nearly 20% of the world population is illiterate – with the vastmajority residing in developing nations. Before even basic information services like SMS can be used, more effort needs to be made into creating new user interfaces for those who can’t read, and more effort into finding the best ways of teaching literacy with mobile devices.

COMMUNITY : Rapid technological change in the world is going to inevitably create friction, as well as great opportunities. Finding ways to integrate technologies into traditional social structures in a positive way could play a huge role in community enhancement. Micro payments, encouragement for Entrepreneurship, Venture Capitalism are all venues where we could approach the community issues.
There have been certain products that have come around in the past few months to cater to these sectors. Good examples to these have been Mitti Cool, the Refrigerator aimed at the villages without electricity and made entirely of clay, and other innovations. You can check more of these inventions at http://www.jugaadu.com/.

Though it is tempting to simply assume that eventually growing economies will need many of the same things that developed nations already have, innovation and new services to help the poor and uneducated can’t stop because some parts of these sectors have crossed into what can be called “lower middle class.” For the vast majority, there are still many problems with accessing just the most basic requirements of human beings. The opportunities to improve the lives of millions of people with new services aimed at growing economies are incredible. As time goes by and new technologies become cheaper and accessible by more people, the possibilities for even greater services that truly improve the quality of life are enormous.

New Invention for Sleep at Airports

The airport Industry is considered the peak in commercial automation in terms of the technologies in use, of course there is Industrial Automation, Military Automation as the other parts or you could say peaks. But in Commercial Automation, working on an Airport is like working on a Spacecraft. The airports often throw up technologies and or gadgets that may in fact one day move into daily life a few examples of these would be travelators, escalators, and image recognition through security cameras etc. I am working on the Dubai Airport expansion project and recently came across this interesting little device from the consultants who have designed the Dubai Airport, Airport De Paris International (ADPi) that they have installed in the Paris Airport as a sample.

Sleep Machines, that allow people to sleep or rest while they wait for flights these seem like amazing machines. It looks just right, the perfect place to catch up on your sleep between long flights. We like its clever design, with sheets that are automatically changed by winding from one roller to another, just like a conveyor belt. Each Sleep Box is decked out with an LCD display, Wi-Fi, a place to stash your luggage, and plenty of sockets for charging up your laptop and cell phone. Sure beats sleeping in a chair. Check out the pictures of the same here below and also the video below.

The Inquisitive Guide for purchasing a new laptop

Instead of a traditional desktop computer, many people are opting to purchase a laptop for use at home and on the go. It is definitely more environmentally friendly (I am referring to power consumption). With so many features to choose from and so many specifications that people talk about, it’s important to know what you need before you buy. Especially when I get asked, “Which laptop is good?”. The answer to that question is then as good as me guessing if Kolkota Knight Riders will win the IPL v3.0, No one can tell you. Not unless you can tell what you are going to use the laptop for.

First and foremost it is important to know what is your primary usage of the laptop. Based on that you can decide for yourself the actual specifications of the laptop. Let’s say that we can broadly classify the laptops in 3 categories:

  1. A. Browse the Internet and do basic computing : You are definitely looking at a netbook which will give you the portability to move around in the house and do very basic work as the processor and configuration are meant for the same.
  2. B. Browse the Internet, Do some work as well as use it for music and entertainment: Now you are looking at a low end laptop that will enable you to do these things with decent hardware to support those functions.
  3. C. Browse, Work, Entertainment, Gaming and Design: As you would have guessed, you need to do a bit more than just the above 2 options and would need a fairly good laptop in order to do it.

If you haven’t gone shopping for a new computer in a while, the laptop ads may strike you as a bit confusing with phrases such as “2GB RAM, 8GB SSD, Level II cache,” etc. Fortunately, a little information is all you need to make sense of today’s laptop jargon. In order to make more sense of the specifications I will explain each term and then tell you what sort of a configuration you would need for optimum performance for the above types A, B and C. Simple enough ? Then let’s start.

Here are the basic features you’re going to want to pay attention to:

Processor: There are many different processors on the market which can make it difficult to find the one that’s right for you. But when you look closely most of the laptops available around use the very famous Intel Processor.

A : Netbooks will ideally use the Intel® Atom™ processors

B : Low end Laptops can do with the Intel® Centrino™ processors

C : High End Laptops would Ideally use Intel® Core™ Processors (Core 2, Core 2 duo etc)

Screen size: The screen size is completely up to your viewing pleasure. By using a smaller screen your portability increases where as by using a larger screen you can work on many things on the same screen real estate. You can choose a tablet-size computer with a screen that’s as small as five inches wide or a desktop replacement laptop with a giant 20-inch screen that’s perfect for playing DVDs, editing photos and videos, or even gaming. The key to making a decision is determining what exactly you expect to do with this new laptop once you get it home.

A : Netbooks ideally would have a 10” screen, enabling good browsing as well as portability

B : Low end laptops might have a 15” screen that would help

C: High end laptops will definitely have a wide screen starting from the 15.4” upto 20” screens

Battery life: These days with amazing advances in processor technology, operating systems, and battery technology, some laptops can run as long as eight hours or more before needing to recharge. Be sure to look at a system that will last as long as you need before recharging. Be it netbooks or even the high end laptops. The Important thing about the laptop batteries is to ensure that you do not leave it connected to the wall outlet all the time. You have to charge and discharge the batteries for optimum life of the batteries, else the batteries life is decreased.

RAM: The first of the Jargons,think of RAM (random access memory) as a way to measure your laptop’s intelligence. You may be able to squeak by with 512 MB of RAM if you’re going to be primarily doing email and surfing the Web, but most computer users will want at least 1 GB or more to run several applications at once. If you can’t afford as much RAM as you would like, you can usually upgrade your RAM down the road. But with new operating systems like the windows 7, vista and the sorts it would be preferable to have a larger RAM for optimum performance. Like they say, you can never have too much RAM.

A : Netbooks would work well with 1 GB of RAM

B : Low end Laptops would need 2 GB of RAM

C: High End Laptops with close to 4GB of RAM is good for good Performance.

CD/DVD drive. A good laptop can act as an entertainment center as well as a business tool. Some disc drives will simply read CD-ROMs while others allow you to record CDs and DVDs, too. However, if you’re looking for the ultimate in portability, like you get in a netbook, a CD and DVD option is not generally an option. Add to it, these devices tend to be power guzzlers and so affect your battery life for longer operation.

A : Netbooks do not usually need a CD/DVD drive

B : Low End Laptops would generally have a CD DVD Drive but most people would prefer having a spare Drive which is more portable.

C: High End Laptops definitely have this as an accessory in the laptop

Storage space: The more storage space you have on your laptop, the better. Though 160 GB means you can load nearly 40,000 songs on your laptop, an internal drive can fill up quickly in just a year or two. Storage space comes in two varieties today—hard drives and solid-state drives (SSD). Though hard drives currently dominate the computer world, solid-state drives are gaining popularity. With no moving parts, an SSD generates little heat, wastes less energy, and can take more punishment than a traditional hard drive. Unfortunately, SSDs tend to cost a lot more, but prices are gradually coming down.

A : Netbooks do well with about 160GB of Hard Drive Space or even less as most of your efforts are not centered to storing and using a large number of files on the netbook.

B : Low End Laptops are different, anything until 320 GB would be of interest when getting one of these

C : High Eng Laptops need to have a lot of Space, 500 GB or more.

One nice thing about hard drives is that you can always buy an external hard drive later down the road to increase your storage capacity as you need to. External hard drives are also nice to back up your information in case your internal hard drive goes bad. The avid downloader needs more than his share of these Hard Drives, because you will find usage for these with the Movies, Series and Songs you are downloading.

Network Connectivity: If your new laptop is WiFi enabled, that means it can use wireless hot spots at coffee shops, libraries, and other public areas, using them to access the Web. More and more businesses and public areas allow you to connect to hotspots free of charge, so you can stay connected almost anywhere these days. Additionally, if you choose to purchase your next laptop with wireless capability, you could choose to set up your own home network so you can be online throughout your house. Most if not all current laptop models contain an Ethernet port, which allows you to connect your computer to a DSL modem and networks that you typically find in a business environment.

Laptops these days have more than just network connectivity Bluetooth for your phones, ample number of USB ports to connect devices like webcams, standby mouse, cameras, camcorders etc. Ensure whatever you buy will have a lot of USB ports on it.

Now software : Well I have a post about the software for your new laptop and it’s here : 11 Must have software for your new laptop.