Zero Percent, a Food Rescue App


  • Sustainability Problem
    • Up to a third of harvested food is wasted.  This inefficiency causes higher water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions than would otherwise be necessary to feed the population.
    • In industrialized countries up to 40% of food waste happens at the consumer site when people and restaurants discard unused items from their kitchens.
    • At the same time, 1.2B people globally do not have enough food to eat.
  • Technology/Solution
    • Zero Percent is an app that allows commercial restaurants to donate their food to charities like soup kitchens and food banks.
    • Donor lists the food items available and non profits can select the products that are right for them (for example, bulk nonperishable items could be more appropriate for a food bank) and schedule a pickup
    • The restaurants are charged a fee for participating and presumably less food waste reduces the overall waste disposal costs for the restaurant.
  • Stakeholders
    • Restaurants
    • Nonprofits that serve food to low income populations
    • Non profits already in the food rescue business (ex: City Harvest)
  • Implementation Steps
    • Market to businesses with clear business case for waste cost savings
    • Partner with existing food rescue organizations
    • Invest in drafting and complying with local food safety guidelines to protect brand.
    • Aggressive targeted community outreach to build strong networks of donors and recipients in select communities.

Pure Lives Water Filtration System

  • Kid-Wearing-Purelives.pngSustainability problem
    • Clean water is a scarce or unaffordable resource for people in developing countries.  Further, natural disasters or man-made crises such as war place millions of people in new refugee camps that lack infrastructure to provide water to all of the residents.
  • Technology and how it connects to problem
    • Purelives is a 5 gallon water filtration and transportation system allowing it to be used at home or at a water source and carried back to the home.
    • The filter can work with any fresh water source (wells, rivers, etc) and removes 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, heavy metal and other contaminants
    • Filter lasts for 3000-5000 gallons and stops allowing water through when it needs to be changed so there is no risk of using filters that are no longer appropriately cleaning water.
  • Stakeholders
    • NGOs, especially disaster relief
    • Residents of developing countries with poor water sources
    • Workers in fields away from water sources
    • Campers
  • Implementation steps
    • Rebrand the company and product.  “Portapure” reminds readers of sanitation (portapotties) and Pure Life is a name for a number of  organizations (some religious) that focuses on sexual issues.
    • Partner with NGOs to pilot the usage and understand real world challenges for using the system- how do you supply replacement filters, etc?
    • Develop a pricing model that can meet low income people in developing countries, for example, microfinance leveraging community peer groups to ensure repayment.


Bloom Energy Fuel Cells

  • Problem: Energy Peak Demand
    • Electricity is produced at utilities and at peak periods, there may not be enough for all customers or the capacity needed for peak periods leads to overinvestment in infrastructure that mostly is not in use.
    • Up to 15% of the energy can be lost during transmission to the customer
    • Electricity plants dependent on coal power emit more CO2 than other types of energy generation.
  • Technology
    • Fuel cell allows for large industry customers to generate and store energy on site or close to their buildings.  Allows customer to have a backup power source if there is a grid failure or during peak periods.
    • Fuel cells can use run on natural gas or methane and create less CO2 emission than coal powered electric plants.  In the case of methane, the fuel cell could use the waste product of the industry to generate electricity.
  • Stakeholders
    • Large retailers: Home depot
    • Industrial customers that have methane waste
    • Utilities that want customers to have a demand response strategy for peak periods
  • Implementation Steps
    • Design stacks to last longer and need less maintenance or sell with low hassle maintenance packages.
    • Promote the technology to industrial customers that have methane and biogas as waste
    • Partner with utilities to offer price discounts to customers who adopt the fuel cell technology

Living Power converts cooking oil to energy for UK National Grid

  1. Sustainability Problem: Energy
    1. Energy usage can be difficult to supply during peak periods
    2. Traditional sources of energy such as fossil fuels like petroleum, natural and coal release CO2 into the atmosphere (driving climate change) and other pollutants
    3. Alternative technology for turning biofuels into energy exist but then energy and food needs would have to compete for limited arable land
  2. Technology/Solution
    1. The company Living Power in the UK is collecting used cooking oils from households and businesses, processing it and selling it to the national grid.  The oil is “recycled into a renewable carbon neutral fuel the company can use to generate power.”
    1. The fuel then powers large engines that provide power to the National Grid, especially during peak usage periods.
    2. Drop off sites are accessible with 90% of people being within 15 minute drive of one of the 500 drop off sites.
  3. Stakeholders
    1. Households and businesses that want to sustainably discard large amounts of cooking waste
    2. Living Power company
    3. National Grid
    4. Consumers of food (because land mass wont be used for biofuels)
  4. 3 steps to implement
    1. Continue to seek investors to scale program
    2. Lobby politicians to pass regulations that require the reuse of cooking oils of a certain daily volume
    3. Provide market based incentives for people or businesses to drop off their cooking oil

Recycled Shower Water


  1. Sustainability Problem: Excessive Household Water Use in Water Scarcity Regions
    1. Water used in showers can be up to 17% of household water use.  More water is dispensed by the shower than is needed to get clean and the water is then removed as waste through the sewage system.  The status quo leads to a) depletion of water in water scarce regions, 2) expensive water and heating costs (to heat the water) for the property owner and 3) waste water can contribute to overloaded sewage systems.
  2. Solution: OrbSys Showers
    1. OrbSys showers recycle the water used during each shower, at the end of the shower, the water from that session is discarded as regular wastewater.
    2. By recycling water in the shower, only 25% of water used during a typical shower will be consumed.
    3. Further, the cost to heat the water will be lower because the recycled water retains its heat and we don’t need to heat the 75% of the typical wastewater that is saved by the new system.
  3. Stakeholders
    1. Regional governments in water scarce regions
    2. Homeowners (although they will become more important stakeholders when the price comes down and the pricing model makes sense for less frequently used showers.  Currently price is probably around $5000.)
    3. Institutional customers that have a high volume of shower use: Spas, hotels, pools, schools, gyms, prisons, colleges, etc
  4. First Three Steps
    1. Market the benefits and business case (annual water and energy costs savings) to institutional users
    2. Invest in R&D to figure out how to lower per unit cost/price to enter the residential homeowner market.
    3. Align product with various govt grant programs for energy saving devices and provide this info to consumers (so that they can purchase the product subsidized if possible).



Carbon Emissions Turned into Stone

Sustainability problem: 

CO2 released when burning fossil fuels leads to global warming


Turn carbon capture into stone and store underground!

    • In Iceland, scientists turned carbon into stone by  pumping a power plant’s carbon dioxide into underground basalt and mixed them with water.  The process chemically solidified the carbon dioxide and changed the basalt and CO2 into a chalk like substance.
    • The solidifying process takes 2 years, whereas it was originally assumed to take decades.
    • The solidification resolves the risk that carbon stored underground as gas or slurry could accidentally be released into the atmosphere.
    • Its currently unclear whether the process could work with many types of basalt or saltwater as opposed to freshwater


    • Governments trying to meet CO2 cap commitments
    • Power plants trying to limit CO2 due to regulations or cap and trade limits/incentives
    • Citizens who benefit from avoiding the impacts of global warming
    • Coastal cities/regions and other high risk localities that have to plan and pay for warming mitigation and adaption

First 3 steps for deployment:

    1. Additional studies of types of basalt and water required for the reaction (including testing factors that affect the duration of the reaction)
    2. Analysis of potential geographic locations and power plants that have the proper basalt formations and could make use of the technology
    3. Cost analysis and funding models to determine how much the technology will cost to use and which stakeholders should contribute to the costs

Composting Toilets for Urban Sanitation

Sustainability Problem: Water/Waste

The sustainability problem:

  1. Problem:  In the next few decades, population growth will happen primarily in urban cities in Asia and Africa.  These cities may develop increasing slum-like conditions if there is not sufficient clean water resources, the funds to bring these resources to residents, and the political will and efficacy to implement large scale centralized infrastructure projects.
  2. Solution: Composting toilets for urban sanitation,   Article:
  3. There are many different potential designs for a composting toilet but in general, they do not rely on a centralized infrastructure for water and waste management.  Similar to flush toilets, composting toilets have a seat and drainage pipe.  But instead of being connected to a water system for flushing, the flush mechanism relies on gravity.  Only a small amount of water or foam is used to facilitate flushing or washing.  The user may be required to add a bulking agent (such as a cup of sawdust) after use to facilitate composting and prevent anaerobic reactions (which cause odors).  Waste is transported through the pipe to a storage container.  Excess liquid/urine may be drained off to the sewer system to reduce fermentation/smells.  Solid matter remains in the tank with the with the bulking agents where it is aerobically digested by bacteria until it becomes compost.  The storage container has a door for removing the compost.  Additional features such as a mixing arm and vent facilitate the breakdown of solid waste and reducing odors.  More advanced models use separate chambers in the storage container to separate fresh waste with fully mature compost to ensure that only safe product is removed from the tank.


    1. Consumers:  receive a middle class amenity for presumably lower lifetime cost (cost of unit, maintenance and future water fees), creates an end product (composting) that can be used in locally if needed.
    2. Local government:  reduces required investment in centralized water resources
    3. Suppliers:  can sell units and provide maintenance packages if consumers don’t want to empty their own compost.  Could potentially have a model where they receive compost back from consumers and further prepare it for resale.


In order for the technology to be adopted there are several barriers that need to be overcome:

      1. Building codes that are based on the assumption that toilets will be connected to a central water system will need to be revised.
      2. City waste management rules regarding the use of biomaterials should be updated with regards to safe vs unsafe human composting (as opposed to assuming that all human compost is unsafe).  For example, multi chamber models that separate fresh waste from mature compost prevent pathogens from fresh waste entering the mature compost.
      3. Affordable pricing plans need to be developed that would allow poorer residents to pay for their unit over a specified number of years rather than upfront due to the high cost of the units and the low income of the residents.
      4. Pilot programs in schools and public buildings should be used to demonstrate successful usage, better understand maintenance requirements and influence public perception as to the cleanliness of the technology.