Hypothetical Question

Ultrabrite71
By Ultrabrite71 on Sat, Jan 5, 2013 - 7:52pm

Hello all,

          I just watched Crash Course, and thought I would register. I would give Crash Course a giant thumbs up. I think what interested me most was the part about Peak Energy. On that note, lets just say that "hypothetically" I created a device that can harness the heat from sunlight and efficiently convert it into electricity. If that device were built and could be physically demonstrated to produce electricity (meaning, it works as described), where would you take such a thing? Strictly hypothetically speaking here. smiley

         No, this is not the rantings of a lunatic. I was just proposing a hypothetical question. 

14 Comments

shawns333's picture
shawns333
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what do you have in mind?

I guess for starters, you may want to be a little less coy and maybe give more info... wink

Because, there are many different ways to answer your question, depending on where you're coming from exactly and what your intentions are.

For example, one thing one could do if they wanted to market a brilliant idea they had and turn it into a prototype and potential small business of their own is to leverage something like kickstarter.com.  There are very interesting projects there all the time, where inventors/entrepreneurs present great ideas and seem them come to fruition based on the community's efforts (aka "crowdsourcing").

Yeah?

silvervarg's picture
silvervarg
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Depends on your beliefs

If you want to make humanity the most good you would present in detail your findings as an academic article.

If you want to make lots of personal profit you probably want to start a company and apply for lots of patents and search for private funding (in return for major shares in your company).

With that said there are lots of companies that do things to convert solar rays to electricity, either directly in photo-voltaic cells (PV's) or through solar concentrators that essentially harvet the heating power of the solar rays and turn some kind of turbine from the heat that will drive a generator so you get electricity.

Any new invention needs to be significantly better than the existing technologies at least in one particular field of usage to be able to conquer any decently sized market to produce profits.

shawns333's picture
shawns333
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Good succinct post, Silvervarg

nt

Ultrabrite71's picture
Ultrabrite71
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Good Information!

Shawns333,

       Thanks for the information about kickstarter.com! I checked out that site and will offer the "hypothetical" device there. Coy? Well of course! When playing poker, you should never show your hand. 

       I will however let you see some of my cards because you were kind enough to point me in the direction of that website. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

-A little back history: A while ago, I was asked to come up with a device that would charge a sump pump battery, even when the power went out. Apparently, sump pumps failing to do their job (running out of power) are a major problem, causing countless thousands in damage each year. Given that challenge, I began my research, but quickly discovered that, in creating the device, its potential was a lot greater than just charging a battery that would keep a sump pump operating when the power went out.

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       The device I was hinting at is obviously not hypothetical. Its setting in my garage. I guess you would call it a working prototype. It is exponentially more effective/efficient than a solar panel. I know, that is a pretty bold statement, but true (or so says my multimeter). Basically, it utilizes the Seebeck Effect, thermal coefficients, and light collimating. None of this science is new. What IS new is the way I combined them and in some of the innovations I've come up with in reaching (and maintaining) the correct thermal coefficient (creating a proper Seebeck Effect), and in the way I optimize thermal conduction. 

        So, I have this little device in my garage that creates electricity, has almost no moving parts (very durable), and was fairly cheap to build. As it sets, it can charge a deep cycle battery in about 5 hours. If scaled up, could charge a bank of batteries in the same amount of time. None of the components are in any way connected to "the grid", so when the power goes out, this little devices keeps generating electricity. 

        When I started my research, it occured to me that, all of the diagrams and scientific formulas on paper would impress no one. A working device that I could demonstrate however would. And, in my garage, on a table it sets.

@Silvervarg

        As for my beliefs, I would say that I would both like to help humanity and experience some sort of financial benefit. The devices electricity generating potential (if scaled up to generate more electricity than to charge a battery bank) combined with its low cost would help humanity. For those same reasons, I would have to think that I would "make a few bucks". At this point, I consider the device to be a bit of a paradox. Its very efficient in what it does, fairly cheap to build, and was not that complicated to assemble (from my perspective). That would mean that once sold, anyone with any technical ability could disassemble it (discover what "makes it tick") and mass produce it (thereby removing any profitability). That my friend would be the paradox. 

        Additionally, whether you know this or not, any major invention/innovation in the area of energy generation/creation, is of great interest to the Department of Energy. All conspiracy theories aside, if I went public with this device/concept, there is a pretty good chance that the DOE could/may confiscate it. No, I am not hiding in my garage, craddling the device in my arm like its a baby, tin foil hat attached to my head. I just tend to make every move like I play chess...I always think 3 moves ahead. Posting here was the first chess move. The third being, its in the hands of the public. The second move is to figure out how to make the third one possible. 

Again, thanks for the input.

shawns333's picture
shawns333
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Interesting stuff

Thanks for the background, Ultrabrite71.  It sounds like a very interesting project you've been working on and apparently have demonstrated noteworthy results.

This is the kind of thing I've thought about for a long time, but lacked the electrical/mechanical engineering skills to actually pursue.  So, very cool that you have gone down this path.  Let me know when you get it on kickstarter, as I would like to take a look and possibly back it.

As well, if it doesn't work out there and you're looking for a supporter, renewable energy is a strong interest of mine, so PM me to talk about possibilities.  I understand your desires to proceed carefully and respect that.

Good luck!!

VTSkier's picture
VTSkier
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You should get the book

You should get the book Patent It Yourself by Nolo.   Go for it!  Things like this are needed badly.

Ultrabrite71's picture
Ultrabrite71
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More good info!

@VTSkier

   I checked out reviews for: Patent it Yourself by Nolo. Seems that all of the reviews are good, so I may go that route. I do have access to a patent attorney, but my understanding is that, no matter what I do, the process would cost about 7-9k. Due to our current "wonderful economy", I don't exactly have that kind of money just laying around, so the DIY idea may be more feasible. Thanks for that tip!

@Shawns333

   According to the Kickstarter website, I would need to do several things before I offered my device to backers. Some of those things are: 

- Assemble a marketing package, complete with video, and detailed description (can do, no biggy)

- Provide a cost analysis (even easier. I've kept records of what was spent: A grand total of about $590 so far to bring it up to operational status. Another estimated $600 would fully optimize the device, however there would be other costs associated with the marketing/manufacturing/patent/etc. They, I believe, would cost more than it did to create the device).

- Create a Facebook fan page, twitter, etc... to reach out to a larger base of potential backers. That makes sense. According to Kickstarter themselves, their site gets 400k hits a day. I could increase my odds of success by "casting a wider net" in posting information on other venues that would direct possible backers to Kickstarter. 

- The device has to have both Form and Function. (Function, no problem. Form on the other hand..well, it does not look "cool" exactly. Its sort of an odd looking device. There are however several components that I could replace that are much smaller and would allow me to re-construct the device so that it would be more mobile. Other than that, maybe I could attach a lightning bolt sticker to make it look cool? Kidding...lol).

   Another thought I have been considering is the saftey aspect. Any device like this has to go through UL testing. As it sets, un-optimized, can generate 160 volts (stepped down to 120v to be usable), and its usable heat ideally is 400F degrees (capable of FAR more than that if not calibrated properly). At this point in the description, it should be easy to see how "uh oh" situations could occur. Considering how some people like to walk into a McDonalds, purposely spill coffee on themselves and then sue, it would not be a large leap to see how I could end up in some sort of legal fiasco. 

As in: 

- Device reliably generates electricity for free, Check

- Someone tampers with the Light Collimator and gets vaporized, Check

- Device creator is sued into oblivion, Check

*Ahem*....at any rate, onward and upwards!

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Don’t start without …

Don’t even start this process until you have an experienced business attorney that you trust!  Otherwise you will be eaten by the sharks.  Offer to pay with shares or a royalty so he is a motivated partner, not just a cash drain.  If you get no takers then you must have a large cash reserve for legal fees.  Otherwise someone with deeper pockets may deliberately place you between a rock and a hard place to squeeze you out.  Sit on your invention as long as you have to until you get your legal ally locked in.  Very few inventors are good at business and businessmen know this.

Travlin

Ultrabrite71's picture
Ultrabrite71
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I agree

Travlin wrote:

Don’t even start this process until you have an experienced business attorney that you trust!  Otherwise you will be eaten by the sharks.  Offer to pay with shares or a royalty so he is a motivated partner, not just a cash drain.  If you get no takers then you must have a large cash reserve for legal fees.  Otherwise someone with deeper pockets may deliberately place you between a rock and a hard place to squeeze you out.  Sit on your invention as long as you have to until you get your legal ally locked in.  Very few inventors are good at business and businessmen know this.

Travlin

   I could not have stated that advice better. Fortunately for me, I am the owner of a small, 5 year old business. If there is one thing that I've learned in those 5 years, its that: You will learn far more from failure than you EVER will from success. With a company that provides seasonal services, it's not only a shark tank, but also a bit of a roller coaster ride. Its always a "feast or famine" type of situation. Either there is too much work where I was overloaded, or almost none at all. I also discovered that business in general was pretty cut throat. That is just the nature of business and competition. It comes with the territory. I tried to not let it change me, but it did hone and harden my personality where business is concerned. 

   I had another member PM me about the device and I explained to her/him that my intentions are not to get rich, and that I fully understand that, while initially I may experience some sort of brief financial windfall, I fully accept that given the simple nature of the device, it will be duplicated, thereby removing its full potential for profitability. I can live with that reality. I can live with it for two reasons:

(1) Given its simple nature, and low cost to build, it would allow the average person to purchase the device and drastically reduce their energy bills. That, of course, would allow them to give the major energy providers, what I call, the "One Finger Solute", if you get my drift. 

(2) While the device that I designed and constructed is really efficient and effective at what it does, it is better suited to a residential application. I have two other designs (only on paper at this point), one of which is another electricity generating device. Its potential to generate power eclipses the device that I made physical and would be better suited to industrial applications. 

   I am so sure of the second reason, that I would be ok to "cut my losses" with the first device. I have to be strategic with the launch of the first device, to experience a minor, brief financial windfall, in order to fully pursue research into my second device. The second device will not be so freely given, as it is meant for industrial purposes/companies. 

  I do agree though that I need to cool my jets, and wait until all of the logistics are in place before I proceed. 

silvervarg's picture
silvervarg
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Risk elimination

As you apparently live in US (from the legal discussion part) I would strongly hesitate for a small bussiness to manufacture and sell a device that potentially can get you into legal processess that can both ruin you and take al your time and efforts.

If you take a patent (or several), preferably on your company than you can either go to financiers or make deals with other companies.
In this case I would consider makeing a deal with one or more companies that they are allowed to manufacture and sell the product with some kind of financial benefit for you.

It could be ither a one time payment or a yearly payment to "lease" the right to manufacture or payment based on the number of items sold or a percentage of the sales value of the items sold.

Theoretically it would be possible to make such a deal without a patent but the risk of having your invention stolen is considerable.
If the problem is the 8k USD then perhaps you should consider asking people you really trust to be part of putting up this money so you can get a patent. In exchange they could get a share in the company, so if things go really well they have the chance to get great refund.
Still it is important that they should see the investment a bit like an expensive lottery ticket with great potential and no promises at all.

 Good luck with your invention. I really hope that it works out great and I look forward to be able to buy one in a few years. Also keep us posted on the progress.

 /Silvervarg

Te Man's picture
Te Man
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Hypothetical Question

I do not wish to place cold water on you or your idea .... just want to point out another concern you will have.

Even with a patient on your invention, you still need to have finances to defend your patient! Large and ruthless corporations with deep pockets can use the legal {not justice} system to consume years of process.

I have a close friend in New Zealand who did not have deep enough pockets to defend his legal/moral rights and lost everything on his invention.

Te Man, all the way from the clean green and nuclear free country of New Zealand. Where the sun is shinning and the birds are tweeting joyfully.

David Huang's picture
David Huang
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Start Garden

I thought I'd offer another potential way to get this off the ground.  Near me in Grand Rapids, MI a new organization called Start Garden has started.  It's a venture capitol fund and an effort to make this region fertile ground for entrepreneurs.  They are trying an approach of starting small but funding many ideas expecting most to fail, then increasing funding for those that show promise.  Each week they fund two projects with $5000, one project they pick, and one project the public picks.  The next funding level would be $20,000 then $50,000 and on up from there.  From what I can tell the interesting thing is that they are not just investing money in ideas.  They are also getting major businesses in the area involved to help the new entrepreneurs learn about various aspects of business and get connected to the right people/places to make things happen.  You don't have to live in the area to get funded, though it would help to take full advantage of what they offer, at least this is my impression.  It might be something worth looking into for your project.  Here is a link to their website.  http://startgarden.com/

silvervarg's picture
silvervarg
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Risk reduction

Good point, Te Man.

I believe that if you manage to sell the idea to at least two big companies that will manufacture and sell the product and one tries to screw you up you can turn to the other company for help.
That way you can probably both get financial help and legal help, possibly by signing an additional contract, but at least without needing deep pockets yourself.

Ultrabrite71's picture
Ultrabrite71
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Posts: 5
Thanks for the input

@silvervarg

Good call. Definitely have to take this one step at a time. 

@Te Man

That is true. It sucks that we can't just come up with a great idea with out having to worry about someone pulling the rug out from under us financially. I guess the only thing I have going for me is that I am not looking to get profanely rich from this device/concept. Sure, its probably got potential for a lot of profitability. Its just that there are other motivating reasons for creating it. 

@David Huang

I've never heard of Start Garden. After reading your comment, I checked out the website. Although I don't see how my idea would be protected, according to the website, they plug you into mentors, and financial advisors that would help guide the process. Heck, to me, that would be worth more than the initial $5000 investment on their part (if they chose my idea that is). 

@silvervarg's second comment

That is a strategic idea. I am just the little guy and could never think to battle a large company who retain expensive lawyers. 

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All of this makes me wonder....are there other people out there that have great ideas, who put them on the back burner because of all of these financial and legal pressure. Consider all of the amazing innovations that never see the light of day because of these reasons. Oh well.... I plan to put my neck on the line and just go for it, regardless of the outcome. 

Its like I always say: I am not going out like Tesla. ha!

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