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.

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3 thoughts on “Old-fashioned and newfangled plumbing

  1. I like to see new things that come up on the market that can prevent any kind of water damage. This valve will definitively prevent a lot of financial heartaches associated with water damage. Thank you so much for the post.

  2. 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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