Old-fashioned and newfangled plumbing

On this week’s Interviews with Innovators I followed up on the most unusual thing I saw at DEMO: a silicon-based flow-control valve for air conditioners. Mark Luckevich, VP of engineering for Microstaq, explains how they’re using MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) to enable a simple retrofit that could save large amounts of the energy currently used for commercial air conditioning.

This conjunction of old-fashioned and newfangled styles of plumbing represents the sort of cultural mashup that always gets my attention. As Amory Lovins has been saying for decades about energy conservation, there’s low-hanging fruit we can harvest by instrumenting, monitoring, and controlling our HVAC systems using modern sensors, controls, and information systems. The Microstaq valve is a great example of that.

More generally, it points toward an interdisciplinary cross-fertilization that enables a set of well-established IT practices — logging, testing, debugging, hot-spot analysis, refactoring — to be applied in a very different domain.

3 Comments

  1. The ultra modern kitchen doesn’t differ too much from kitchens of say 20 or even 30 years ago. It’s still home to a cooker and a sink, a fridge and possibly a freezer and there’s still plenty of storage space for food, pots and pans, crockery and cutlery.

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