Nature friendly inventions and suggestions
One aspect of Nicolas Pleumekers’s activity as a nature protector
is thinking out solutions in situations where that is necessary considered from the perspective of saving lifes, of well-being, or of environmental care.
Some of the results this yielded are mentioned hereunder.
I) Bike lights without dynamo
One of the first things he invented was concerning cycling comfort. Somewhere in 1984 or 1985 he was kind of fed up with, when biking at night, having to exercise extra muscle power to make the dynamo (that is pushing on the tire of the frontwheel) work. Also the noise this makes often was felt as irritant, especcially when biking in the serene silence of a green landscape.
“Couldn’t those lights simply get their energy from one or more batteries?”, he asked himself. Because, although not technically educated, he couldn’t think off a reason, why this wouldn’t be possible, he started realising his plan, that aimed to enable turning the lights, that were to be fed by two batteries under the saddle, on and off, by pushing a button on the handlebars.
So the flexes were loosened from the dynamo and led via the button on the handlebars to the two batteries. When finished it worked perfectly and it was great to bike at night with lights on, but dynamo off. The only problem initially was, that by then it was still quit new, that the lights of a bike kept working, whereas the bike stood still, for instance in front of a red traffic light.
But after a while this became more usual, also because soon from France in shops manufactured devices became available in the form of a light together with a battery in a holder, that easily could be fixed on the handlebars and on the luggage rack.
Since then the number of other kinds of devices in this field became as good as numberless.
More about personal inventions and suggestions concerning cycling comfort is on this separate page.
II) Train ticket comfort
Back in 1986 there was no other way to get a train ticket, than to stand in (a sometimes very long) line, before at the window having to say where one would like to travel to, so that the person behind it could print the necessary ticket.
After having stopped driving car, this was one of the personally rather hated aspects of the some 30% more nature friendly alternative of traveling by public means of transport.
The result of having concidered, what could be done about this, was, that it might be possible to order at a central point a number of tickets for every usual personal destination, as well as a pliers, to oneself stamp the tickets on the day of their use.
As this new method would bring the relevant train company a conciderable advantage (lees window servants needed), he planned to sell this finding to it.
But in the context of offering his worthfull plan, of course he had to say, what it was about.
So it didn’t come to a deal, but not much later, the first automatic ticket vending machines appeared in station halls.
III Pre-paid phoning
Not much different it went with a finding in the field of telephoning. Before 1994 or so, when one wanted to have and use his own telephone, one had to subscribe and every month pay the bill, that was send and indicated, how much one owed.
This normally the expected amount, but repeatedly in papers there were items about cases in which somebody had to pay very much more than that.
There were several possible causes: either somebody else (for instance a burglar) had used that phone to make very expensive calls, or criminal pay-number owners had connected the phone with their number, or the phone company itself had made a (whether or not intended ) mistake.
But in all cases, formally there was nothing the subscriber could do , to proove that he didn’t phone for that big an amount.
Planning to sell his solution of this problem, to a national auxiliary branche of ATT, of course when offering it, he had to say what it was about.
(So) it didn’t come to a deal, but not much later the phenomenon of pre paid phoning turned out to have seen the light of day.
After that he then didn’t see no reason any more, to keep trying to sell his own finding, (which involved, that the subscriber could choose a monthly cost limit, after reaching of which no more calling would be possible any more that month).
IV) ‘Handheld’ internet
Somewhere around the turn of the century, when the internet still was in its infancy and mobile phoning was not very much further he became very interested in handheld electronic organisers. One of the first things he asked himself was whether it could be possible to have a mobile phone in that form. He contacted an organiser producing company about this question and learned that in principle this would be possible. Not much later he learned that the internet is using nothing else but a normal phoneline. Wow, would that mean that………????
He once again contacted the mentioned company and suggested that this and that had to lead to the conclusion that theorethically it would be possible to have internet on a handheld organiser/phone.
Although no response of the company was received, he felt that something very special had happened.
Not very much later he bought his first PDA in a T-Mobile store and used it mainly to contibute to Wikipedia, (which earned him the 2006 Time-magazine election as Man of the Year, together with all other contributers to then appearing internet projects 😀 ).
V) How to stop crude oil flowing from a broken platform pipe into the ocean water
Only after having seen in a paper a drawing, that schematically showed what the situation was in the 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, he finally could start thinking efficiently about a way to solve the problem that was lasting for weeks already.
When having finished, he sent his message to the BP site, on which there was a special form via which one could make suggestions for a solution of the problem, in case one had any.
According to him it might be possible to make a robot saw off the broken pipe where it still was straight, so that another pipe could be put over it, to replace the broken off part, via which before oil came up to the platform.
Soon indeed the decision was made to do it in this way and a week or so later finally the sea life disaster came to an end.
VI In the field of Windturbines
1. Suggesting that building turbines thus that for instance three rotors together drive one dynamo and thus make that generator produce three times as much electricity, will reduce the production costs of windenergy conciderably. (mainly because instead of three masts and three generators only one specimen of both components is needed).
2. Pointing out that nowadays drawback of generating electricity by use of windturbines that it quite often happens that birds lose their life because they fly against the mast or the vanes in the dark can relatively easy be eliminated by mounting warning lights on top of the mast and the vanes. (Meanwhile he has been informed that this method is being tested).
VII) Methods to remove so called vermin in an animal friendly way
Such as removing spiders from a living room.
In stead of for instance crushing the animal in a ball of paper and then throw it into the kitchen bin, it is very well possible to put a tin or a glass can over the spider and when it doesn’t immediately go or drop into the can, shift an unfolded A4 paper sheet between the can and the wall upon which the spider finds itself, after which it drops or goes into the can.
Hereafter one can bring the animal to a place where one doesn’t mind its presence and of which knows it’s liveable for the animal (for instance the cellar) and give it back its freedom there.
Somewhere in 1991 he corresponded about this with the national animal protection society and they agreed that this is a good way to do it.
VIII) Human safety in and on high locations
After having read (in or around 1990) about a child of a well-known person having dropped out of the window of a very high floor, which to him was a very humanity undignant fact, he suggested that it might become obligatory for owners of high buildings, to take care for an effective kind of protection against dropping out of those buildings’ windows.
Also he suggested that a device might be designed and produced that inhabitants or other users of appartments in high buildings individually can buy and easily apply for prevention of dropping out of windows, or at least of falling all the way down, after having dropped out.
For instance just some kind of a ligh weight frame, that easily can be installed vertically on the outside in front of the reveal, or horizontally under the window.
Also in those days he mused about possibly designable devices that could be used in case of an emergency on high building floors and would have the effect that it would kind of parachute the fall of persons, that had no other possibility any more than jumping out of a window.
Maybe some kind of an easy opening big and solid umbrella like object might already bring a considerable breaking of the falling speed.
But the ideal seemed some kind of a big balloon, filled with a gas, that would take care for a real soft landing.
When not much later a fire on an oil platform had forced workers to jump off it into the icecold water, what they didn’t survive, he suggested that if there would have been steep bars from the platform down to the water surface, upon which a rubber boat would be attached to that bar, this would have saved the lives involved.
IX Elevators and power outages
Almost thirty years later (2019) according to the news there was a major power outage in New York. The item also mentioned that many people as a result got stuck in an elevator. “Does this still happen in 2019?” was what he asked himself when reading about it. Soon afterwards he suggested that the problem of getting stuck in an elevator might be helped out of the world by taking care that every elevator is provided with an emergency battery that contains enough electricity for bringing the elevator to the groundfloor and open te doors there.
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