Here’s those buzz words again; innovation, innovative, innovate. It’s easy to talk about and to say we need to do it, but can we all be innovative? And if so, how?
Tell us about your idea that received seed funding as part of the WorleyParsons Global Innovation Challenge. What need does it address and how have things been progressing?
My idea is about the creation of a small-scale waste-to-energy modular solution, ranging from 400kW to 8MW, with the flexibility to produce electricity, liquid fuels or hydrogen.
Everything is progressing really well with our partners (Lockheed Martin and Siemens), and we’re receiving great feedback and interest from discussions with clients. The latest news about the waste export ban to China, and the introduction of the waste levy in Queensland also brings a positive impact and makes the idea very timely.
Do you have a process that helps you come up with new ideas?
Yes, I usually focus on synergies and bringing existing technologies together. I like to try finding a complete solution for a said problem. Waste and residues have been a bit of an obsession for me in the last four years or so. It’s amazing what you can find out from some ‘crazy’ Google searches. The issue is to separate the real from the speculative, which unfortunately is the largest portion of what’s available. But the internet is the new library and is a tool to be used.
The other element I have been playing with a lot is ‘scale’. Small-scale facilities can have some interesting benefits like very low investment in infrastructure and the ability to maximise revenue, by supplying the product directly to the final users. Like in the waste-to-energy case, using a ‘design-one-build-many’ philosophy is a must, as development costs would kill any one-off projects.
These days everyone is encouraged to innovate or be innovative, what can we all do to continue to come up with new ideas?
We need to consider that mistakes are just part of the process. If you want to innovate and expect everything to be right the first time, every time - you will be set for failure. The other important thing is to use above-the-line behaviour and positive thinking; one can always find plenty of excuses to maintain the status quo.
How does it feel when you have that ‘ah-ha!’ moment and you realise you’ve come up with a great idea?
I haven’t been blessed with that and honestly believe it is a bit of a myth. From the initial idea to the point where there is a meaningful concept there is a lot of thinking and a rollercoaster ride of emotions where I usually go through phases of excitement, disappointment and acceptance, with each change triggered by an additional piece of information or insight. So, for me it is more like a journey rather than a jump!
In your opinion, what is the greatest innovation in history?
I’m going to be really selfish here… I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and moved to Brisbane, Australia in 2008 - so air conditioning it is!