The Future of Disaster Relief: The Ecos PowerCube

EcosPowerCube-640x353One of the greatest challenges to humanitarian aid and disaster relief is the task of getting services to where they needed the most. Whether it’s hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, or wildfires; getting electricity, water, and other utilities up and running again is a tough task. And with every moment that these services are not available, people are likely to die and humanitarian crises ensue.

However, Ecosphere Technologies – a diversified water engineering and environmental services company – believes it’s designed a solution in the form of their new PowerCube. This self-contained, mobile apparatus is designed to deliver solar power to off-grid areas along with water purification facilities and WiFi base stations — all in a single package that is the size of a shipping container.

https://i0.wp.com/www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/disaster-lg-1.jpgThe Ecos PowerCube will be available in three sizes that are designed to fit into 10-foot, 20-foot, and 40-foot shipping containers. The largest models will be capable of generating up to 15kW of power, which will be parceled between providing electrical hook-ups, water treatment and internet access. And they will also serve as temporary shelters, providing temporary sleeping quarters or medical stations.

What is especially innovative about the design is the use of fold-out solar panels, which allow for significant power generation without compromising on the handy space-saving form. Deployed, the Cube is able to maximize its solar-absorbing surface area; but packed up, its small enough to fit into a shipping container and be deployed around the world. However, the design also comes with its share of drawbacks.

powercube-howFirst, there’s the apparent lack of batteries, which means the Cubes will only be able to provide power while the sun is shining. This is crucial since time is often of the essence in disaster areas, with windows for treating wounds and rescuing the buried and trapped lasting typically less than three days. Second, the 15kW generator is rather meager compared to what a diesel generator can produce – between 600kW and 1.7MW.

This means, in essence, that some twenty or so PowerCubes would have to be shipping to a disaster area to equal the electrical capacity of a single large diesel generator. And the intermittency problem is certainly an issue for the time being, unless they are prepared to equip them with high-capacity batteries that can quickly absorb and hold a charge (some graphene or integrated Li-ion batteries should do it).

https://i0.wp.com/www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/military-lg-2.jpgIn the meantime, it is still a crafty idea, and one which has serious potential. Not only do disaster areas need on-site water distribution – shipping it in can be difficult and time consuming – but internet access is also very useful to rescue crews that need up-to-date information, updates, and the ability to coordinate their rescue efforts. And military installations could certainly use the inventions, as they would cut down on fuel consumption.

Still, refinements will need to be made before this is a one-fit solution problem of what to do about disaster relief and fostering development in densely populated areas of the world where things like water-treatment, electricity, and internet access is not readily available.

Source: extremetech.com, ecospheretech.com

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse!

zombies-city-and-the-crowdCurrent events not related to science, tech, and/or pop culture are not exactly my forte. But I came across this article in the new lately and could not resist passing it on. To break it down, police in West Brighton NY conducted a raid on a man’s apartment over the weekend. In the course of searching his place, they found tw0 loaded pistols – a Springfield Armory XD40 .40 cal and an American Firearms Mfg. Co. .25 cal – along with 43 loose .25 caliber rounds.

But the twist came when they asked Nelson Quinones, one of the two residents, why he was in possession of these guns, which he kept stashed in his dresser drawer and under his bed. Apparently, the man told police that he was gearing up for “doomsday” or the “zombie apocalypse”. Quinones also had a gravity knife on his person when police searched him in his apartment building’s rear parking lot, court papers allege.

https://i0.wp.com/www.transportationissuesdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Zombies-ahead.jpgAccording to court papers and the District Attorney, both he and Ms. Meritza Hay (who lives with him) face serious criminal charges as a result of these weapons. Both face third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, as well as criminal possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition. But Mr. Quinone’s wife also faces more serious charges due to the fact that she was convicted of misdemeanor drug possession in 2000.

But let’s face it: the real issue here is the zombie apocalypse, isn’t it? This man was in the early stages of stockpiling weapons because he knew what was coming! And while his intentions were good, his methods were terribly flawed! So let me address those now in an open letter to Mr. Quinone. Hopefully, it will give him something to think about while he’s languishing in jail…

gun_violenceMr. Quinone, while I applaud your efforts to be prepared for the inevitable rise/return of the living/walking dead, there’s a few things you need to understand. First of all, if you’re going to go the gun route for the zombie apocalypse, a 9mm is really the only way to go. More capacity for your weapon, big enough to take out a zombie’s brain, and far more common. This is important when it comes time to scavenge.

Second, everybody knows that firearms draw the attention of zombies (aka. Walkers, aka. Biters, aka. Zack, aka. Whiskeys!). If you’re planning on having to defend yourself from them, you should be hoarding melee weapons, such as the trusty katana sword, a machete, a truncheon, or just some good old fashioned baseball bats. You really want to fortify that for a zombie fight, wrap some barbed wire around it or stud it with some nails.

See?
See? Way more effective than a gun!

Some riot armor would help too, or just some improvised protection like some leather patches stitched into a suite of armor. Zombies spread their infectious disease through bites and scratches, so something that will prevent them from your from getting grazed would be a boon. And let’s not even get into how little thought you put into the state of your transportation.

Everybody knows that in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, you’re going to need to get the hell out of dodge, so something that can address the special needs of survival on a budget is a must. Naturally, you might be tempted to get yourself a horse since these and other more traditional modes of transportation are fuel-efficient (which is a big plus in any apocalyptic scenario).

zombie_carBut horses or mules are likely to panic at the site of flesh-eating zombies and buck you. What’s more, the presence of unfetid, uncorrupted flesh tends to draw the zombies in your direction. Far better to soup up your existing vehicle into a zombie-smasher with the addition of some floodlights and a front-end plough. I believe the picture above of Robert Kirkman’s zombie car will help to illustrate.

Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of supplies. When police raided your home, did they find a huge collection of fresh water containers, dehydrated foods, C-rations, vitamin supplements, batteries, solar cookers, camping stoves, propane tanks, or signal flares? No, they didn’t! These should be your FIRST priority, not some hand guns! What were you planning – to waiting for the crisis to hit before running down to the mall and hoarding with the rest of us?

Now that's what a storeroom looks like!
Now that’s what a storeroom looks like!

He who plans for the apocalypse ahead of time is always better prepared and more suited to life once its underway. Just ask all those nuts who live in their hilltop communities – the ones who’ve been stockpiling guns, ammo, food, water, diesel fuel and generators for decades. These guys will tell you that now is the time to stockpile for the coming apocalypse. But don’t mention zombies, they might think you’re crazy and shoot you.

But above all is the rather timid effort you put into stockpiling weapons, sir. I mean really, two handguns? Real survivalists have been spending the past few years amassing as many assault weapons, shotguns, pistols, and submachine guns as they can afford and the law will allow. Such popular weapons include the AR-15, Tech-9, Mossberg 590A1, and the Glock 17. And if the law is a bit inflexible in your state, just zip next door or go to a gun show!

zombiegun3Yes, it pains me to say it, buy you really dropped the ball on this one, sir! Now some might say that this was just your lame-ass attempt to excuse owning two illegal guns. But I know you to be a conscientious individual who cares greatly for your and your significant other’s safety. I also know that as such an individual, you want to be prepared to meet this inevitable catastrophe head on.

So assuming it hasn’t come to pass while you’re still in jail (in which case, you’ll die like a rat in a cage), I urge you to reconsider your efforts! Cover the necessities first, then worry about the incidentals. Thank you, and in the meantime, be sure to watch yourself while standing in the chow line. Also, don’t drop the soap. And if you can, find the biggest, meanest, ugliest man you can, and glom onto him. You don’t want to be just anybody’s bitch!

And if my might be so bold, you could read my Whiskey Delta series that deals with the zombie apocalypse, which I am currently working on the third installment for. It’s chock full of survival tips. They do get Amazon delivery in jail, don’t they? NOOOO? Well then, you’re screwed!