Until I bumped to this sort of 'scientific discovery' I had never being involved with inventions and patenting activities . So far I had just been used to the style of technical writing requirements at the scientific community for technical papers as well as the underlying functioning of science.
As matter of fact my first impression after reviewing the technical background of some patents was disappointing regarding the technical approach employed to flower pots Hydrology. I felt that inventors, patent attorneys, and patent examiners were missing high education in the matter missing common knowledge already available on text books. My first impression was that less than 10% of such issued patents that I reviewed should have been approved for simple and clear technical mistakes for ignoring common knowledge. It was intriguing the reasoning of why to approve so many inventions that should not have been approved since such inventions would not end as reliable products. Was it taking place just as a consequence of a minor institutional negligence toward science or perhaps the Intellectual Property business is forcing a more lenient system letting issued patents to become a marketing product sometimes spoiling common knowledge? The system is promoting a clear trend having a high number of patents being approved when technically few would have chance to reach a product some day for simply being faulty on their inner conceptions regarding the functioning of nature. I felt a sort of opportunity to bring a 'scientific discovery' forward and perhaps leave important insights on the subject.
A self-watering system is much more complicated than initially we may assume since it is a complex soil-water-plant system combining an intricate hydrology plus physiological performance of a plant with a growing rooting system and variable water requeriments as well as evapotranspiration regimes. Initially I thought that Horticulturists would be the most appropriate professionals to deal with such device. But, later I figured out that in general regarding the academic backgrounds they have around 90% of dedication toward the plant part and around 10% to the soil part and probably nothing to the hydrology. It is very unlikely that any Horticulturist have neither attended disciples in Soil Physics nor in Hydrogeology.
I decided to write a patent because there was plenty of scientific insights to expand the boundaries of knowledge introducing new Hydrological conceptions like the figure on the right giving new ideas for an enhanced porosity connecting pores longitudinally and also multidirectional unsaturated flow. Such approach of having only a moderately discussion was needed going straight to the point of suggesting new assumptions to the fundamentals of fluids moving on porosity as well as the spatial geometric features to an advanced porosity. My proposals was more toward coherence and technical need not paying much attention about manufacturing feasibility even though I always believed that boundaries of feasibility can change over time when there is enough economic pressure to deliver more reliable products providing more advantages to consumers. Also, what is not feasible today can be tomorrow considering the constant advancement on technological boundaries.
Is it a 'Scientific Discovery"?
As scientist and inventor neither dreaming for recognition nor wealth I feel some satisfaction for being able to have a higher understanding on nature processes promoting a sort of aimed balance. My dream have been to be able to sponsor my own scientific curiosity the way I think science should be made. If by chance I scored financially higher than my need I would try some ideas about a new economic order where capital rewards would flow more toward working than ownership. I would spread some seeds that should sprout and grow depending on its potential.
It could be considered an outstanding 'scientific discovery' such importance for the following reasons below:
1. This sort of 'scientific discovery' was born from deep insights taking place at home playing an advanced gardening of self-watering system using a nylon cord as a 'wick' by laypeople that I realized that it certainly would fail on oil lamp functioning.
2. Heat conduction is easier to measure than fluid conduction on porosity, but USPTO issued 61,033 patents on heat and only 17 on fluid as Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity portraying a hug technological gap neglecting hydrology very deeply.
3 So far no patents has ever exploited the hydraulic dynamic functioning between saturated and unsaturated zones for fluid conduction
4. Fluid can be transfered reversibly between compartments on demand.
5. Porosity geometry can be designed as an advanced spatial geometry to allow a high control on hydrodynamic properties of fluid moving on porosity as well as an advantageous anisotropic unsaturated flow for higher longitudinal conductivity.
6. Capillarity deficiency can be corrected eliminating the restrictions of tube theory for multidirectional flow.
7. Wick/wicking becomes important devices for oil lamps and laypeople outside hydrology wanting to combine Thermodynamics with Hydrodynamics.
8. Dynamics of molecular connectivity can be exploited on mass flow.
9. Molecular drainage brings another conception on fluid removal with multiple applications.
10. The system is highly complex even though children and laypeople can play with some simple versions learning with a sort of advanced gardening employing self-watering features.
11. There is a sort of 'scientific flaw' in Soil Physics regarding the different functioning between saturated and unsaturated flow that is part of the technological and scientific gap letting down hydrology for fluid moving on porosity systems.
Circumventing vs. Endorsing
Nature is constantly telling us that in order to harvest plenty we need first to sow wisely.
The company group that bumped to Tubarc similar geometry has an annual budget of around £8 bn per year. There was no initial recognition for a need of deep hydrology to apply to heat pipes on heat transfer technology. It is not surprising since more than a thousand of patents on Heat Pipe and Wick, none of them ever measure Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity. The truth is that experts behind heat transfer working on heat conduction were not aware that fluid on porosity also has conductibility that can be quantified.
Unhappily there is a considerable scientific and technological misunderstanding that encourage people think that they can betray nature functioning and use the manipulation of the Law to take advantages on IP affairs bypassing or skirting around advancing technological edge. The advantages is supposed to be greater when people respect nature rules having higher control of fundamental of technological processes leading toward more production. This rule is the mainstay of western society principles. The calendar was developed in the beginning just to let farmers understand the appropriate time to sow making the plant grow matching with the marching of the seasons consequently resulting in more productive harvests.
A new idea that matches with coherence of nature functioning has the potential to bring new technological edges. Such response has a potential to bring a strong financial reward to new products with enhanced functioning bearing lots of new advantages to consumers. But, the recognition of such outcome may be attached to the skillful background of experts to appreciate and assess new frontiers. Unhappily Hydrology has a huge gap showing that expertise around is in shortage and also it may result in poor assessment toward the real potential for advanced new products.
It is complex evaluate the outcome of inventions and their reward. Sometimes the inventors are not capable of manufacturing the products. Also, it happens when the inventor even being a manufacturer may license its ideas to competitors and both companies together exploit new claims issued by a patent like it happened to flash memory that was invented by Toshiba and licensed to Samsung.
Since Hydrology has being neglected for a long time on patenting affairs, people working with fluidic devices are not educated in Geo or Soil Sciences learning deeply the complex hydrological functioning taught at Hydrogeology and Soil Physics. The wicking hydrology has prevailed outside Hydrology by professionals not aware about Thermodynamic compliances associated to the functioning of oil lamps regarding Etymological requirements.
Patent Application Publication US 2005/0126757 ‘Internally enhanced tube with smaller groove top’ Jun 16, 2005 assigned to Outokumpu Copper Franklin, Inc.
The figure on the right is an important case to illustrate the evolution of porosity when experts are not aware of a deep hydrological functioning. Experts behind heat transfer found out that changing smooth surfaces of heat pipes to rough ones using many designs like ridges, bumps, rugs, etc. can increase the efficiency of heat surface up to three times. It happens mainly because of an increase flow turbulence as well as larger surface area. But, US pat. application 2005/0126757 by chance bumped to the same structure of Tubarc as portrayed at Fig. 4. Even the Patent Attorney filing such patent insisted that there was no conflict and did not file IDS as required by the Law, the patent was reject needing no further attention besides showing how people far away from Hydrological deep background are prone to reject deep teaching that is different of their background. As shown in other posts experts behind heat transfer working with heat pipe never gauged Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity with is the conduction of fluid on porosity in a similar conception to thermal or heat conductivity.
I am aware how science and court of the Law works. After all I have many scientific publications and defended two thesis, for master and PhD. It is very important to be loyal to science and functioning of nature to get important credits when writing and defending a idea. One of my papers is in the cover of the journal; Silva, E. D. 'Nutrient dynamics between human nutrition and food productions systems'. Ciencia e Cultura 51(2):81-7. 1999.
My partners Patent Attorneys were scared after I demanded USPTO to cancel thousands of patents for violation of science. Their concern was a frivolous accusation eligible for litigation. As a scientist and inventor having three issued patents I have simple rights to report to UPSTO to stop violating principles of science. Science is above the Law because it decides what exists in the universe and how things work. There is no threat for litigation in science because things are correct or wrong to the functioning of nature. I think that no judge would dare to think about interfering with science functioning like abolishing Gravity Law. Well, Nature would not care if it happened.
Science is far beyond searching for a truth and the scientific method is inside a scope of Epistemology, Metaphysics, Logics, and History of Science. Before applying the scientific method it is necessary to understand if such hypothesis to be tested has logical coherence and the results defended in under a deep comprehension and understanding. Sometimes understanding is far more relevant than proving what could end up being quite obvious. For example, spreading obesity needs no proof of its existence regarding excessive food and reduced amount of body fitness. What are the main reasoning to control and reduce obesity is a challenge far beyond hypothesis, mathematical modeling, statical analysis, or application of the Law. Man always dreamed of having plenty of food and machinery to replace mechanical work. Now we are learning that food is chasing man which is unable to run away from it and our appetite was designed for scarce food during our evolution.
Obesity spreading around is a tip of the iceberg telling scholars that modern man is spoiling human existence for a while. The lesson is quite simple saying that it is easier to provide food than taking it away. It is easier to develop machinery than asking humans to keep working their muscles.
It is very disappointing when a good and sound science is violated by laypeople having no understanding and use double etymology or shallow and poor writing just to get a short cut from the conceptions and have intellectual property approved in name of profit avoiding paying the intellectual rights acquired with sound knowledge holding in the text books near a century or more. They miss a simple understanding that honesty and respect to nature, science, and society is the best policy to succeed and deliver enhanced products that deliver advantages to consumers.
A good side today is that all technological tools available to make science changed so much that easily such deviations pointing to a massive scientific violation can be detected and verified with simple strokes on a keyboard. In this case when the problem is found and the proof is available to any party wanting to investigate mending solutions are expected to come at hand faster since convincing of an institutional negligence becomes a simple reasonable mandatory consequence because public institutions cannot endorse wrongdoing openly. Also, science rules cannot be twisted since nature has its own way of functioning teaching us how important is to abide to the principles if we want to exist in balance protecting our precious survival down the line.
I happen to be a naturally curious scientist that pays attention to many details around. When something is not working I try to look at the reasons and find a solution to the problem. Epistemology already teach us that Nature can conceive many solutions to a unique problem if we know where to find it. Hydrology negligence in the patenting affairs will be fixed when USPTO hire Soil Physicists and Hydrogeologists to force the system to respect common knowledge already available in text books at Geo and Soil Sciences regarding fluid moving on porosity.
Tubarc was designed after near five years of intensive research exploiting an accumulated background in Agricultural science plus PhD in Soil Science with a broad experience on applied spatial analysis in Hydrology. As dissertation of my doctorate I studied the spatial distribution of rainfall in the Amazon basin regarding dry and rainy season, as well as anomalies and their interaction with vegetation and soils molding a huge watershed due the variations of water regimes during the year.
Why is the soap bubble round?
Just because it is the most energy efficient configuration.
This is a very common knowledge in Biological sciences but my feelings is that people working with microfluidics are not aware of such subtle conceptions on nature functioning. Perhaps thousands of patents are useless for not considering such simple principle in nature designing most of the microfluidic geometry squared. The truth is that nature does not like much squared formats since near everything we see around designed by nature has curves. I have this perception that nature is deeply fond of curves which can explain things much more than equations.
When I was studying water conduction on cords I figured out that continuous cylindrical structures of fibers was already an important enhanced geometry allowing pores to have a longitudinal continuity which is different from a random porosity formed by granular material common in soil science. After three years of continuous experimentation on more than 3,000 prototypes the results showed a reasonable reliability for the hydrology of flower pots which is a complex soil-water-plant system. The problems was to keep the fibers always at the same distance in a bulky composition. Root penetration as well as folding are introduced spatial disturbance highly prone to affect reliability of unsaturated flow on cords. A stable hydrological functioning was not always a tenable feature and some pots showed malfunctioning which could be recovered with a fluid recharge to recover fluid transmissibility. At least this model at Fig. 18 of US 6,766,817 offered already an advanced porosity with no dead ends or clogged region in the geometry in such a feature that nature only offers inside biological porosity of plants.
Tubarc was created from the expression combining the words 'tube' + 'arc' to increase reliability to fluid retention and/or conduction offering an enhanced porosity that always would have a sort of partial protected fluid that can easily transmit longitudinally withing a continuous cylindrical containment having a continuous slit for lateral flow. It solves the problem of capillarity which works inside cylindrical structures having problems of multidirectional flow due to the tube restrictions.
Tubarc geometry was a further step beyond anisotropy and removal of stagnant regions as well as dead end on random porosity. Initially there was some doubt about manufacturing capability to exploit such features. Afterwards I found many near similar patent features proving that Tubarc feasibility is very tenable according to an updated evaluation of technological capabilities.
US Pat. 6,093,491 ‘Moisture transport fiber’. Jul 25, 2000. Assigned to Basf Corporation but the special fiber section was sold afterwards to Honeywell International, Inc.
The geometry of the arcs was almost near to get the advantages of the molecular connection on rounded structures but there was not enough assessment on hydrology to suggest new conceptions replacing capillarity. Wicking property is not even mentioned in Hydrosciences which is called Unsaturated Hydraulic Flow. This format is not good for bulky assembling of a bunch of fibers taking full advantages of a tube in arc.
US Pat. 6,551,353 ‘Synthetic fibers for medical use and method of making the same.’ Apr 22, 2003. Assigned to Hills, Inc.
The intention was a fiber formed with a plurality of longitudinally extending cavities which hold a medicament that is intended to be absorbed into tissue brought into contact with the fiber. It was not assessed for fluid transmission on the opened slits as an enhanced porosity to bring new conceptions in hydrodynamics. This geometry is very close to Tubarc and could be used to exploit Tubarc conceptions just increasing the size of the arcs to provide larger void ratio and area surface. Also, it is possible to have different numbers of Tubarc units. At least it is important to consider that US 6,551,353 provides a strong evidence about manufacturing feasibility of Tubarc conceptions.
US Pat. 6,855,425 ‘Polymer filaments having profiled cross-section’ Feb 15, 2005. Assigned to Invista North America.
This fiber from Invista shows that Tubarc is highly feasible technically and important to the textile industries. But, special geometry should deliver a higher hydrodynamic performance since it seem that Textile Engineers have low background on Hydrosciences, Soils Physics, and Hydrogeology since this patent had a half sentence in the text to address the hydrodynamic issue: ‘Furthermore, the yarn exhibits a high moisture wicking capacity.’US Pat. 5,972,505 ‘Fibers capable of spontaneously transporting fluids’ Oct 26, 1999. Assigned to Eastman Chemical Company This fiber geometry does not take into account rounded geometry of porosity as well as an appropriate format for bulky assembly like in soil and biological porosity.
This patent belongs to a package that was donated to Clemson University estimated at 38 million dollars and having around 100 issued patents. The simple truth is that this geometry indeed has more area per volume to retain and transmit water than cylindrical fibers but when it is assembled in bulky composition stable reliability is compromised. It happens because self-entrapment can occur.The main author has near 60 patents and spent his professional life searching for a fiber to transmit water but his background in fiber technology never suggested him to have a look how nature work such special porosities in soil, rock, and arrangement of cells and tissues inside plants and animals learning how physiology coped with such dilemma during millions of years in the past.
Experts working in fiber technology are not pay attention how porosity geometry works in other areas mainly Soil Physics and Hydrogeology. Also, it can be inferred that such experts are not learning from biological sciences regarding the internal hydrology of plants and animals regarding the complex porosity that nature designed internally to keep fluids cycling inside such beings.
US pat. 7,108,763 'Method for manufacturing an orifice mechanism capable of low fluid flow rates' Sep. 19, 2006. The channel is the same as mentioned at US 6,766,817 Fig. 18 as the porosity between cylindrical structures. Due to a need to have an enhanced porosity Tubarc was designed to cope such problems. It seems that US pat. 6,766,817 was totally ignore even the title is very easy to find by a search 'Fluid conduction utilizing a reversible unsaturated siphon with Tubarc porous microstructure'. Page 1, Line 27 ' . . .The ability to deliver proper amounts of fluid to plants, chambers, compartments or other devices in a constant and controlled manner is particularly important for maintaining constant plant growth or supplying liquid to devices that require fluid to function properly. . .The process of moving fluid as unsaturated flow also offers important features associated with characteristics, including the complex hydrodynamic interaction of fluid in the liquid phase in association with the spatially delineated porosity of the solid phase. '
Wicking only allows upward flow toward the flame while Hydrogeology and Soil Physics teach about the interrelation between saturated and unsaturated hydraulic flow that has been on the scientific literature for more than a century.
Reversible Unsaturated Hydraulic Siphon complexity was far beyond the bare hydrological background of Inventors missing important background regarding the spatial dynamics of fluid matric potential between saturated and unsaturated zones as important features of fluid movement at macro scale. It seems that many inventors have tried to play with the hydrological zones without knowing about their spatial working dynamics failing to capture the conceptions accordingly.
US Pat. 6,811,842 ‘Liquid transport member for high flux between a port region and an opening’ Nov 2, 2004. Assigned to The Procter and Gamble Company. Like many other patents on such hydrodynamic functioning for not having accessed spatial dynamics of fluid matric potential according to the saturated and unsaturated zones this patent missed important conceptions on fluid delivery regarding unsaturated hydraulic flow.
US Pat. 6,178,984 ‘Self-priming siphon, in particular for irrigation’ Jan 30, 2001. French author. This patent is doing almost the same as Tubarc but since it does not employ spatial analysis to assess fluid matric potential it did not grab the fundamental dynamic conceptions.
When the inventor does not understand the functioning of hydrological zones regarding the fluid movement to attend a gradient of unsaturated hydraulic flow many simple phenomena can neither be explained nor be exploited according grabbing the hydrodynamic conceptions.
US 2006/0046123 'Passive fluid pump and its application to liquid-feed fuel cell system' Mar. 2, 2006. As stated in many place, Unsaturated Hydraulic Flow is not a pumping operation but just a fluid movement by a gradient of unsaturated hydraulic conductivity.
It is important to consider that fuel cells is a fluidic device that highly can benefit from the hydrodynamic conceptions of Tubarc by moving fluids between compartments allowing a complex unsaturated zone, like in soil science, mixing a solid interface with air and fluid.
The Reversible Unsaturated Hydraulic Siphon can be employed to supply fuel or drain water in the functioning of fuel cells and simultaneously allow an interconnect air phase by a set of special Tubarc enhanced porosity geometry.