Environmental Opportunities in Conceptual Design: Enhancing the TRIZ Database with ENERGY STAR Products and Functional Models

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Engineers use the product design process is to create new products. This process begins with a problem statement and conceptual design and concludes with the embodiment design phase, where the details of the product are formed and final designs are created. There are efforts being made to increase awareness of the impact of the decisions made in this process with respect to the environment. Currently, environmental design is done in the embodiment phase, far into the design process and after a concept is selected. This paper focuses on a method to consider environmental design during concept generation.

This research will show how environmental products can be incorporated into the TRIZ database (in English, TIPS - Theory of Inventive Problem Solving). TRIZ is an organized and advanced form of design by analogy and is based on overcoming contradictions between a set of engineering parameters. TRIZ provides innovative principles that are linked to a repository of patents and products.

The fundamental research question for the basis of this work is: Can the TRIZ method be expanded for the design team that places high value on environmentally benign designs? This can be broken down into more specific questions. Question One: How do you find products to expand the TRIZ database specifically so that it can be more useful for environmentally benign design changes? Question Two: How can function structures be used to catalog environmental innovations and aid in applying TRIZ principles? This work will demonstrate how this expansion of TRIZ can be accomplished and will yield three unique contributions.

There are three contributions to this work. Contribution One is the analysis of the relative frequency of TRIZ principles for combinations of engineering characteristics within the TRIZ contradiction matrix. Contribution Two is the use of function models, according to the function basis to characterize technical performance contradictions in terms of TRIZ engineering characteristics and to identify environmental innovations in existing designs. Contribution Three is providing support for the validity of expanding the TRIZ database using certified green products and functional modeling. This will be demonstrated by examining electrical energy saving household appliances, and detailing the process by which they can be added to the TRIZ database.