I have been quite fascinated about doing interviews with public personalities ever since I started attending press conferences where I have to get my camera on stand-by and stand along side with other photographers. And when it’s question and answer time, I would devote my full attention to the speaker and occasionally, I would scribble some notes on paper because I needed to be reminded of the words spoken during the interview which stroke a chord with me. This was also the time where you had to think on your feet and actively constructing questions and responses to get the conversation going. That’s the art of conversation.
Today, I had this special opportunity to speak to Ana Shell, the owner of the private fund of entrepreneurs-inventors known as the “Territory of Shell”. Ana, who will be turning 26 this year, is also an environmentalist, venture businesswoman, and is one of the discoverers of crystal growth technology for inexpensive electricity production. At our mid-twenties, most would be working their socks off for their bosses, but for Ana, her entrepreneur spirit has driven her to be at where she is today, spearheading companies such as NRGLab Singapore, a science-driven company based in Singapore, along with her partners.
Honestly, coming from a science background, I knew nuts about what business and economics are all about. But thankfully, this interview wasn’t all about money and investments, it was all about Science and how technological sciences could help protect our environment and at the same time, improving the lives of others. And I specially arranged this interview to be at Jamaica Blue Cafe, a modern and quaint cafe at The Star Vista. The freshly-painted white chairs,polished wooden tables along with the clear glass windows that allows large amount of sunshine to stream through, gave a cosy and comfortable ambiance. Most important of all, it was quiet which make the cafe a perfect place for quiet reading and relaxation over a cuppa coffee or tea.
For most interviews, I prefer to keep things simple. I’m no reporter or a TV presenter but a blogger or writer who simply loves to write and share news, ideas and information. I kept my interview casual and carried it out as if I’m just having a regular conversation with someone. For this particular blog post, it is no different from others. I write about my thoughts and reflections as well as what I’ve learnt about the person I interviewed. And I always find such conversations inspirational as I begin to witness the true passion and talent in the people whom I interviewed with. Ana is one of such an instance where I could sense her passion in doing what she loves.
Just right after my cup of lemongrass tea came, Ana arrived shortly in a pretty pastel pink studded dress with a maroon-brown leather jacket and the interview started off with a brief self-introduction by Ana. Born in Russia, Ana grew up speaking three difference languages – English, Russian and Spanish. One of things she shared which caught me a little by surprise was the fact that she studied architecture and music back back in her years of education. Wouldn’t that be to far off as to what she is currently working right now? Not really. As she explains, the Ana Shell Fund or Territory of Shell which she had established it in 2007, provided funding for all sort of projects – from entertainment, architecture to energy. Currently, Ana Shell Fund also provide finances and support to groom talented artistes like Mika Newton, a Ukrainian singer who represented Ukraine in the Eurovision song contest in 2011.
“Is it just any projects your company would fund?” I probed further. “Yes,” she replied with no hesitation. The Ana Shell fund provides funding for a broad range of projects and she mentioned that there were numerous applicants sending in their business proposals to request for the funding. It was definitely heartening to hear that one of the reasons why the Ana Shell fund was set-up is to provide funds to aid talented and aspiring people like scientists, singers and businesspeople who might have a dream in mind to be fulfilled. It’s almost like this dream realizer project where it helps people to work one step closer to their dreams. A quote just comes up to my mind just as I was typing – “when there’s will, there’s always a way. Don’t stop dreaming, people!
To me, the Ana Shell fund is definitely something meaningful for the world and our humanity to make a world a better place. The generation of SH-boxes and gasification projects by NRGLab, which was funded by Ana Shell Fund, are great examples to testify the need to provide necessary funding and support for meaningful projects which could potentially help us to create a safer and greener planet.
In my previous blog posts, I’ve shared about the SH-boxes
and gastification projects
is currently working on. Through the conversation with Ana, I get to learn a little more about both on-going projects and an exciting upcoming project at which somehow just got me excited as Ana was sharing about a new innovation. I’m just going to keep you in suspense for now, until I’ve talked about SH-boxes and the waste recycling or gasification project.
In brief, SH-boxes are environmentally friendly generators which employs the use of poly-crystal technology to producing electricity from environmental heat. With the SH-boxes, electricity could be generated more efficiently and cleanly at a lower cost. These SH-boxes are compact and portable but here’s the catch, NRGLab has just come up with SH-boxes with an energy compacity of 5kW which are now even smaller in size, weighing between 2 to 3kg. That’s like the mass of an average Singaporean kid’s schoolbag. Believe it or not, I reckon that Singaporeans might be relying on these SH-boxes for energy supply in the near future. I mean, who wouldn’t want to switch to an energy source which supplies clean energy at a much lower cost? Currently, our electricity is generated from the burning of fuels and imported natural gas which its costs has been increasing over the years. With the SH-boxes which relies on crystals to generate power, we probably won’t have to frown anymore whenever the government announced that electricity tariffs has risen up again.
The second project which Ana talked about is the gasification project which works by converting agricultural waste (e.g rice husks) into bio-diesel fuel. Watch out for my next blog posts for NRGLab as I share more about the gasification project which turns nothing into something. Now, that’s really something, isn’t it?
As the new project they would be working on, it would be, once again, a revolutionary innovation – almost like a life-changing technology which has multiple uses. What is it? It’s an engine. Yes, we all know that steam engines were invented in the 18th century which was like two hundred years ago. But, hold on, I’m not talking about any ordinary engine. Like what Ana has revealed to me, this engine they have created, which measures only 5 nanometres, could possibly be the tiniest engine made ever on the planet. The engine is even thinner than our cell membrane which measures about 7.5 nm! How cool is that? The conversation on this tiny engine was the climax of the interview session when my curiosity was stirred. I couldn’t even bother finishing my lemongrass tea.
I was dying to discover more about this exciting invention which could bring about revolutionary changes to our lives. But time was running and I only had that much time to spare for the interview with Ana before I had to rush off to attend another media event.
Of course, my discovery about this teeny-weeny engine will continue and more about this invention will be revealed in my blog.
Catch up soon, readers!More exciting updates to come. Til the next blogpost!
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