Friday, November 4, 2011

La Salle University Invents!

No pooper scooper needed here!
La Salle, the Catholic university here in La Candelaria, held its invention fair this week in which students displayed their creations, which included the trivial, the well-intended, and a few which might hold real potential.

A carbon filter for cars? ecoxosto(at)gmail(dot)com 
These students say they've invented a new kind of car tailpipe, containing activated carbon supposed to filter out pollution using the principle of a cigarrette filter. The comparison is meaningful, since Bogotá's uncontrolled vehicle air pollution has even us non-smokers breathing smoke. But I wonder why this system, if it really works, hasn't been used before. And, in any case, the city needs to start by phasing out old vehicles, enforcing existing pollution laws and require regular filters for diesel vehicles and catalytic converters on gasoline vehicles.

But this invention, if the principle works, might be a piece of the solution.

La Salle appears to emphasize agricultural research, which is important in Colombia, where farming still occupies a substantial porportion of the people - but hasn't rescued many of them from poverty. Colombia's campesinos are victimized by Colombia's armed conflict and will soon face competition from subsidized U.S. farm products, so they need all the help they can get.

This planting cart scatters seeds, water and
fertilizer. pcontreras(at)solagroc(dot)

This little cart is supposed to scatter seeds, spread fertilizer and sprinkle water, all automatically. It's intended for small plots of land.

A solar seed dryer. jcimmy_114(at)hotmail(dot)com
Like other inventions, it seems to me that it must have been done before. This seed dryer could be a boon for coffee and other industries, if it's really an improvement on existing methods.

An electric bicycle - or just buy the wheel.
Another tool for improving transit and quality of life, these students developed an electric bicycle with what looks like a simple, practical power mechanism. The bike isn't cheap by Colombian standards - 1.2 million pesos - but maybe mass production will bring the price down. Nicely, the rear, power wheel can also be bought separately, altho it'll set you back 800,000 pesos.

Bicycles fitted with small gasoline engines have proliferated in Bogotá recently. They are noisy, polluting and are subject to almost no laws. Electric bicycles, which are also becoming more common, are an excellent alternative, since they're quiet and don't pollute. But until their prices come down, they won't become popular among low-income people, who ride most of the bicycles in Bogotá.

These two had a simple, practical, innovative idea. It's a detachable bicycle basket, which converts into a wheeled floor cart. But I just wonder how much more practical this device is than simply placing a plastic bag or a plastic basket into a regular bicycle basket.

(See also: Reinventing the bike)

Catch them apples! From Articampo
Seems to me that I've seen this cutter-basket set-up for harvesting and catching fruit before somewhere. Maybe even used one.

This guy says he's invented a three-story farming system, intended to triple land space. It uses mirrors along the sides to reflect light to the lower stories. Seems expensive and complicated to me. The best ways for Colombia to maximize agricultural area are to protect the land it's got, by combatting erosion and desertification.

Fido won't forget to flush. 
How about this doggy bathroom? It even flushes!

Drop in a coin, out rolls a pencil. 
Or this pen/pencil dispenser? Just drop in a coin. It looks suspiciously like cigarrette dispensers I've seen. Anyway, the product is healthier.

Sniff out those lost keys! sabuesolasalle(at)
This guy sells a beeper you attach to your keys. Lose them, and the remote control makes them beep, leading you to them.

How about growing mushrooms, including expensive orellanas, at home?
I was struck, however, by how few of these inventors had set up websites, even free ones. That makes me question their seriousness. vegellana(at)hotmail(dot)com

Got a stressed-out horse? Our cushions are the solution!
Related post: The Gringo Invasion Vs Colombian Innovation

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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