#2676: FireBreather

Today’s invention is a fire safety device, to be used in confined spaces where smoke inhalation can be very dangerous.

It takes the form of a ‘cooker hood’ (green) attached to a powerful fan (pink). The hood is attached to the (low) ceiling on a rail so that it can be positioned nearer a fire. This draws in a large percentage of any smoke being generated and passes it over a 3-way catalytic converter.

The proximity to the flames activates the catalyst’s chemicals and their effect is to strip out many of the most noxious pollutants.

The hood might also carry a conventional extinguisher. It could, in addition, allow the water produced by the catalysis process to fall onto the fire.

This provides people with more time to escape.

#2675: TwinTanks

When designing an armoured vehicle, there are lots of compromises to be made. You want to be high enough to detect the enemy but low enough to evade targetting by them. You need to cover large distances fast but you don’t want to carry huge volumes of fuel into battle.

Today’s invention separates some of the functions of a tank into transport and combat.

The lower part, in black, acts as a mobile store of fuel and ammunition. It can cover huge distances with zero wear and tear on the fighting unit above.

The top unit’s wheels spin backwards whilst sitting on the main tracks of the lower machine.

When the enemy is sighted, the wheeled fighting unit descends to the ground via a ramp.

This upper unit is fast moving and designed for conflict on terrain chosen to be more suited to a wheeled vehicle. Its low profile makes it very hard to target. If damaged, or just in need of refitting, it can be winched back onto the mothership.

A more advanced version might involve several fighting units to one tracked vehicle.

#2671: SoftShooter

Firing a shotgun can be difficult, even for those trained to do so.

The recoil from such a gun can cause bruising and it tends to make the users tense, which affects their aim adversely.

Today’s invention is a recoilless shotgun. The diagram shows a plan view of a double barrelled gun (with the butt to the right).

One of the barrels (red) has been flipped about the turquoise axis, so that it now points over the user’s right shoulder.

Pulling the trigger fires both barrels simultaneously -thus there is no kick.

The red barrel would use cartridges with gunpowder only in, so that no-one standing farther than a metre behind could ever be hurt.

#2569: Steereflex

Formula 1 drivers are accustomed to having their reaction times measured and honed. One machine for this purpose is the BATAK device.

Today’s invention is to equip road vehicle steering wheels with a scaled down version of this test. There would be touch pads positioned around the wheel which light up randomly.

Although the required movements and peripheral vision demands would be less stringent than in the racing version, such a test could perform many functions.

Failure to achieve a high enough score might be indicative of drunkenness and thus disable the ignition. One’s reaction times before driving might be used to reduce or increase the performance of the vehicle (or the insurance paid). Finally, such a test could help people improve their vision and responsiveness when driving.

#2568: Soapurifier

Many people prefer to use a bar of soap, rather than a liquid alternative.

If you have to share facilities with people you don’t know, today’s invention offers a way to ensure that the bar gets cleaned before you apply any soap to your body.

The soap is placed in a perforated tray beneath the flowing water. This helps ensure that any germs and skin cells of the previous user are washed away.

You could choose to wash the soap in this way and then use it as normal, or just stand under the water flowing over the surface of the bar.

#2567: TankerAnchor

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how supertankers and massive container ships may take two miles to slow to an emergency halt (even with the engines full astern).

Today’s invention offers a way for ships to stop much more rapidly (if they are travelling in a canal).

On the left, we see a ship in cross section moving down a canal at say 10 m per sec. This vessel has strong beams built in which are wider than the canal.

When an emergency stop is required, the beams are allowed to make contact with reinforced ramps on either bank. The kinetic energy of the ship is exchanged completely for potential energy, as the ship is lifted higher in the water (right hand image).

A simple energy-based calculation shows that a ship which engages with ramps angled at 10 degrees to the horizontal will be brought to a stop in about 12m (with no reverse thrust or anchors).

#2564: CentriFlog

I understand that separating certain chemicals, at the molecular level (eg lipids) is very difficult.

One way is to use normal chromatography, but to do this in a centrifuge: but this is very expensive equipment.

Today’s invention is to attach something like a chromatography column to the end of a carbon fibre whip.

As the whip is cracked, its far end undergoes a massive acceleration, thus forcing different molecules to respond differently and separate out.

It might be possible to make this happen in sections of a hose, so that this performs a continuous separation process.

#2563: Mobilayby

In the future when autonomous vehicle dominate, road transport will need to be smarter.

Road trains, which may need to be very long compared to current trucks, will still have to use the winding country roads which are most common.

So imagine today’s invention – a series of carriages, linked by A-frame connectors. These will be pushed and pulled by autonomous tractors at either end (blue). These vehicles will be capable of steering this train of carriages both forwards and in reverse.

When another vehicle appears (human driven or autonomous) and wants to overtake (red oval), the tractors will signal the A-frames to stretch and/or contract, so as to create gaps and allow the overtaking to occur safely.

Imagine the complexity and precision of one train overtaking another.

#2560: Underamp

Today’s invention is a lightweight ramp which can be carried on the underside of commercial vehicles.

Not only would this help smooth airflow around the lorry itself, when being driven, but when there was a need to get the vehicle lifted off some of its wheels, the ramp could be disengaged, dropped onto the ground and quickly driven up. Faster certainly than using a conventional jackstand.

The ramp(s) could be made to, say, an aluminium spaceframe design and might also be deployed under the front wheels whenever a heavily loaded vehicle had to drive onto a kerb -to avoid other vehicles or to park up overnight on an elevated area.

#2558: Wiser Idlers

Conventional wisdom says that you have to use either a shaft (inefficient) or a chain (maintenance nightmare) to provide the final drive for your motorcycle.

I’m not a fan of conventional wisdom, so today’s invention provides an alternative.

It takes the form of a train of n idler wheels (n would be an odd number, if the engine direction remains fixed), These lie between the drive sprocket (red) and the rear wheel sprocket (blue).

Experts say this is foolish because it would be noisy, frictional and exhibit high rotational inertia.

I therefore propose that the idlers be made of say spoked carbon fibre with only an outer gear ring made of steel. Encase all of this in an oilspray enclosure and all the major downsides of this approach can be overcome.

This lubricated idler geartrain would be inherently super-strong, efficient and require little maintenance.