Problem Almost all developing and upcoming cities are facing problems with waste management. As areas become more urbanized and the middle class grows, waste generation levels tend to rise exponentially. Landfills are reaching capacity and many cities like Jakarta are now having to deal with the added problem of illegal burning and dumping of trash. Another problem that cities with a green objectives are facing is the waste content itself, which drives recycling down and hinders the cities’ efficiency.
Solution Totally Green Bottles & Caps have come up with the design of a bottle that is 100% compostable. This includes the cap and label too. They are made from plant-based materials and take around 3 months to compost, adding no toxicity to the Earth. Cities can adopt these to minimize their waste, as plastic water bottles are proving to be a great challenge to address. These bottles can also potentially boost recycling levels and help cities reach their recycling objectives, while other cities that rely on incineration can take advantage of the bottles’ properties that make it incineration friendly as clean burning fuel.
Totally Green Bottles & Caps
Manufacturers of material used
Local farms that can intake compost
Water bottle users
Next Steps The company is starting to sell the product at a small scale. It is essential to keep records of performances and success and work on improvement using feedback from current consumers. The next step should be pitching the idea to cities and mayor offices with green initiatives like Planyc to start manufacturing and selling the product at a larger scale. Next will be to market the product and try to expand into other economies.
— Comment on “A greenhouse that lets you produce crops and electricity simultaneously”
I wonder if the technology can also include sensors that can track plant type and growth rates. This way perhaps the system can further alter the wavelength of the light and “test out” different values to find the optimum environment for these plants and share the data with other greenhouses.
Problem Health problems continue to grow, both in developing country where education and health issues are poorly addressed, and in so called developed countries where healthcare is still seen as a luxury rather than a basic human necessity. One of the major health problems is diabetes, and the chronic skin wounds accompanied by it. More than 25 million Americans suffer from such wounds and with growing confusion regarding healthcare in the U.S. and diabetes cases expected to double or triple, the need for a new innovative and affordable solution to deal with this problem grows.
Solution Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and MIT have come up with a design for a new concept they are calling a smart bandage. These bandages can be customized depending on the specific health issue they are tackling. They use electrically conductive fibers coated in a gel that can contain anti-biotics or painkillers depending on the issue. The bandage contains a small controller operated by a smart device, this controller sends electric signals to the chosen fiber to release whatever was placed in the gel.
Researchers working on the project
Hospitals and other medical centers that can adopt the technology and provide it to patients
Manufacturers of the microtechnology used in the bandage
Patients with limited access to healthcare
Organizations such as the WHO that can back and promote the technology potentially
Next Steps The project is still in preliminary testing phase. The first step should be reaching out to the WHO and other potential backers to start manufacturing and conducting final tests on humans. Reach out to hospitals in areas with high diabetes cases such as West Virginia and get them to potentially cooperate and provide further data to help with the research. Finally, since the controllers can be operated using smart devices, develop and provide information about how we plan to stop hackers and other potential risks.
— Comment on “Nature-inspired water collection system”
I find the technology very interesting as it utilizes natural properties of the materials used to suck up the water from the air. The technology also does not require an external source of energy which tackles major sustainable issues related to other water harnessing options such as desalinization.
Problem A lot of garbage is being dumped and left to swim around in the world’s oceans. Due to water currents and movements, most of it gets grouped to form a “patch.” Due to its composition and low density, these patches rise to the top of the water and float around. There are many patches around the world, with the largest one, called the Great Pacific garbage patch, being discovered between California and Hawaii only in 1988. Although many countries and cities are finally starting to think about fixing the issue at its source (through waste separation and recycling/burning), it is important to also clean up the damage that has already been done. These patches mainly effect marine life as plastic finds a way into their digestive system, and as many humans depend on seafood, this is also a health risk for them.
Solution A Dutch inventor called Boyan Slat and his team at TU Delft has come with a solution that takes advantage of technology that study and monitor water current movements and the garbage’s low density to efficiently collect garbage from the sea. The system has a U shape that funnels the trash into the middle of the system to efficiently pick it up and transport it back to off shore recycling facilities. The system requires no external energy source and fully relies on solar energy. Furthermore, it has a heavy anchor that can alter its speed and direction through automation and algorithms that use real time information about current movement. The system only collects trash floating on the water’s top layer, for that reason it does not go further underwater and avoids effecting nearby fish.
The Ocean Cleanup team and researchers working on the project
The UN – ocean cleanup is part of their sustainable development goals and they can potentially back projects such as these
Manufacturers of technology used such as solar panels
Countries nearby these garbage patches that are directly effected
Fishermen and seafood suppliers
Next Steps The project at the moment is in the latter stages of testing. Currently, they are running drift testing in the North Pacific with plans to launch their first cleanup system within the next year. The program is a foundation that relies on donations and awards to function. So reaching out to the UN and other potential backers is key to make sure the project can run smoothy. Furthermore, as mentioned above, the issue needs to fixed at its core, and that is consumers need to learn to produce less waste and effectively separate and manage it. This project needs to be used to raise more awareness on the severity of the problem and perhaps reaching out to waste awareness campaigns needs to be on the agenda.
— Comment on “Cities Get Smart by Prioritizing Mobility”
I agree that cities need to focus more on mobility and changing their transportation culture in order to reach the “next level” of being a city, a smart one more specifically. I want to focus on the examples of London and Copenhagen and their cycling culture that is growing. I previously lived in the Netherlands, a country famous for perfecting the bicycle culture. While living there, I never even considered moving around in the car and although having nice bike lanes and traffic lights and a system in place helped me feel comfortable with cycling all the time, there was also an element of safety in it. Many of these projects (for ex: building bike lanes in NYC) fail to look at the safety issues that stop many from cycling. Not only do you need to educate people on how to ride safely, a plan needs to be put in place to lower bike stealing rates in a city. I have seen many examples of people who start riding until their first bike gets stolen and they lose all “faith” in this lifestyle. This was once an issue for cars, but evidently most people do not fear that they may return from work to find their car missing. Cities need to study that closely in my opinion to give citizens the confidence and comfort of changing their transportation behavior.
Problem Clean water availability in many third world countries is proving to be a major problem. A lot of these countries do have some water sources, but the problem lies with the process of filtering and converting it into potable water. The WHO estimates that 2 billion people in the world drink water from a source that has been contaminated.
Solution Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University with the help of Water is Life, have come up with a solution that tackles a few issues with this problem. They have invented a book, that provides educational advice and lessons for pupils about water sanitation. The pages also turn into water filtration tools and it is estimated that each book can provide a person with clean water for four years. The design takes advantage of silver’s effective antimicrobial characteristics. Each page weight contains less than 1% of silver. Bacteria absorb silver ions as they pass and eventually die.
Researchers working on the project
Non-profit organizations such as Water is Life
People living in third world countries with limited access to clean water
Next Steps The book is currently being distributed in certain countries such as Haiti and Kenya. I think the first step now is to see how effective this technology is. I am skeptical that people who will be using this book as a filtration device will gain much from the educational aspect of the design. Some metrics need to be put in place like the number of people drinking from a contaminated source to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of this technology. This is key for the next step, which is to try to sell the idea to the WHO and other nonprofits that can potentially adopt this book into their distributive practices.
Although a very interesting idea and I can see this being utilized in many equatorial countries, I see one key issue. A hefty portion of this investment must go to education, many of these farmers are either not equipt with smartphones or don’t have the experience with dealing with new technologies such as solar PV. These (I am assuming) will be operated by the farmers themselves, and they will need to be properly trained to able to maintain and operate these tools. Perhaps part of the sharing model you suggested, they could have employees dedicated to delivering, installing and maintaining the equipment. A percentage of the rent/lease fee can go into funding this.
Problem Many developing countries in the Middle East and Africa are experiencing water shortage problems. The amounts of water vapor that can be found and potentially captured from the air are equal to about 10% of fresh water found in lakes on Earth. Most of the countries in question rely on importing water and aid from other word organizations. Furthermore, those areas experience low humidity which restricts the use of current technology due to their low efficiency.
Solution A research team at MIT has come up with a design for a device that can capture water vapor at an average rate of 2.8 liters daily at relative humidity levels as low as 20%. The design is based on “porous metal-organic framework-801” that utilizes adsorption properties of the metal and organic material. The frame absorbs water and then the device uses the heat from the sun to release the water into a storage device. This means that no additional heat or energy is required to operate the device. The design is still in its early stage and further research and development are needed to make sure of its efficiency and reliability.
Scientists and institution working on the research
Manufacturers of metal-organic material
People living in areas with water shortages
Next Steps Since the technology is still in development, MIT and other investors should back the project for further development. The device is still a prototype and requires additional filtration system and an improved collection system for water particulates that form on the surface of the device. Advertise the technology and shift focus to countries in need of new freshwater resources to help fund the manufacturing process of the device and start initial testing.
Comment on “Hybrid Wind Power Generating & Fish Farming System”
Although I like the idea of integrating different technologies and ideas and finding more efficient uses of spaces, there are many debates growing on whether these can be called “sustainable.” There are many issues with fish farms:
They disturb other fish habitats in the area
Inconsistent water currents and circulation can result in water with high health risks
Generally, they acquire a bad image in the eyes of the public vs. wild fishing
Risk of fish “escapes”
Maybe the technology can be modified so that the energy generated can somehow try to fix or minimize some of the issues listed above.
Sustainability Problem: The demand for renewable energy is on the rise as many cities start thinking green. The main issue with generating renewable energy in cities is the lack of space. Limited roof space means limited potential for solar panels and placing wind turbines can be a challenge in a city where there is limited open space. Another problem is congestion and high traffic, these cause high level of pollution and health risks rise.
Solution: The first step in solving this problem is bike paths. Major cities are beginning to adopt these, giving bikes there own dedicated paths. These have encouraged many people to ditch their cars for bikes and thus, minimizing emissions and health risks.
To take this technology a step further, solar cells can be placed on the ground, covered with a protective coat to act as solar bike paths. These have been tested in the Netherlands and far exceeded expectations. Not only do these act as bike paths, but they continuously generate electricity from sun rays as well as heat from friction as thousands of bikes pass through them. The technology solves two sustainable problems, emissions as well as renewable energy sourcing in cities. These can be connected directly to feed into the grid.
Stakeholders: Local government, citizens, electricity providers, transport construction companies and bike shops.
Next steps: Pitch idea to local governments and electric providers as efficient renewable source with minimum service. Provide evidence of their success in the Netherlands and use that to support arguments. Advertise the technology by targeting the growing bike riding community to gain interest and pressure.
Comment on: “Reducing GHG Impact Through Smart Bins”
A lot of the problems city face with waste management is transporting these outside of the city. Many have shifted their focus into finding innovative ways to “organize” and minimize the waste before it is being shipped out. Cities have adopted these solar bins or the commonly found BigBelly that efficiently help recycle a lot of city waste. I am interested to know how you plan to sell this idea as a simple Google search tells me that they typically cost around $4000 per unit as opposed to the standard bins that cost a minimal percentage. Is it worth investing hundreds of thousands of these bins or in educational and cultural programs that would encourage consumers to put in a little more effort when it comes to waste management?
The Problem A lot of energy is wasted in office buildings after hours to try to keep the temperature in the building at an optimum temperature especially just before workers enter in the morning. Using energy during the night is wasteful and cooling and heating units produce GHGs that are harmful to the climate.
Technology: Geothermal Earth Tubes The technology takes advantage of the difference in temperature between the ground and air. In winter, the ground is typically warmer than the air and the opposite is true for the summer. Since these tubes are in contact with the ground, they acquire the same temperature. During a cold night, cold air is sucked into these tubes and it travels through the ground, it slowly absorbs heat from the tube and ground and finally, the tube delivers the air to the building and provides heat, as well as fresh air and circulation. This technology does require maintenance to remove dust accumulated from outside. Also, monitoring technology is needed to control temperature levels and flow.
Stakeholders Residents and companies in areas where a constant need for heating or cooling is present. Manufacturers of sensors used, construction companies as well as concrete suppliers. Electricity provider who might see their revenues fall.
Next Steps Market this new technology as futuristic and taking advantage of natural phenomenas that promote reduction of GHG emissions by humans. Promote use of earth tubes with construction companies to utilize time efficiency with installation process (These can easily be installed while construction in place).
In many places around the world, and especially during the summer when temperatures rise, a big chunk of the energy being used in buildings goes into cooling. In countries in the Gulf region such as mine Oman and UAE, summer is virtually a year long season and so many households have their air conditioning units on all day as the air temperature outside is unbearable. The problem with air conditioning units is that they produce a lot HFCs. These are amongst the most potent greenhouse gases being produced through human behavior and contribute to climate change. So how do you cool the air temperature in exrtremely hot cities with an impossible climate?
Technology: Modern Wind Tower This technology has been around for a long time in Arabia but as countries have progressed and their architecture “modernized”, they chose to leave behind some smart features such as the natural wind tower (pictured below) for the now harmful air conditioners. These towers can still be seen on old buildings in parts of Arabia.
These towers suck in high speed wind which are generally faster as you go up in the desert. The air travels down through the tower and “washes” away heat in buildings by providing a constant air current and circulation.
A new breed of wind towers has been designed and they take innovation from these old Arabian wind towers. The idea is the same but they now have sensors that can track air movement and direction to efficiently suck in more air. Another added feature is that they have installed humidifiers that cool the air as it travels through the tower to further speed up the air cooling process.
Stakeholders Residents and companies in hot climate areas, manufacturers of technology/sensors used, construction companies.
Next Steps Market this new technology as clean/natural, inspired by old techniques used by our “own” ancestors (assuming target market to be Arabian Gulf region) that substantially reduce GHG emissions. Promote use of wind tunnels with construction/engineering companies since it won’t effect project delivery dates by much if pre-planned. Once installed, this technology is of low cost. Air monitoring/management provided by manufacturing company for a low fee.