What’s the Buzz About Saving Honey Bees with the Internet of Things?

Researchers at University of Minnesota in partnership with a company called Eltopia, have developed a new technology which sterilizes varroa mites without harming bees in the process.  By swapping out one frame of the bee hive with a compostable circuit board, the MiteNot technology gathers environmental data and targets prime conditions for mite reproduction.  The Internet of Things makes this possible by sending data up to the cloud via mobile app for storage and analysis.  The systems interact with no human intervention and literally turn up the heat just enough to sterilize male mites before the female’s eggs are fertilized.  Eltopia hopes to make the devices available before the end of the year.


The Technology

  • MiteNot device uses circuit board, sensors gather environmental data: temp, humidity, etc.
  • Monitors prime conditions for mite reproduction
  • Detects when female mites have laid eggs, send info to Eltopia’s cloud based application
  • BeeSafe app sends signal to warm up hive enough to sterilize male mites before eggs are fertilized
  • Being tested; still in research and development stage

MiteNot Panel

The Sustainability Problem

  • High rate of loss of bees due to pesticides, climate change (less rain), mite infestation
  • Device target: destructive parasites destroying colonies and decimating bee population
  • Loss of bees is a threat to pollination which in turn impacts food supply
  • MiteNot is a green solution without pesticides
  • Circuit board is created from renewable resources, it is also compostable
  • Internet of Things (IoT) allows for the efficient collection of huge amounts of data required


The Stakeholders

  • Academics: University of Minnesota and others agricultural and engineering institutions
  • Commercial Beekeepers
  • Growers of flowers and fruits which require cross-pollination
  • Major food manufacturers: General Mills, Kellog’s, Kraft, PepsiCo, etc.
  • Consumers

The Process of Technology Implementation

  • Continue research and development
  • Determine economic efficiency/profitability; cost of tech vs ROI
  • Expand pilot project to other professional beekeepers and academic labs
  • Share new technology and best practices

You’ll find more on Eltopia’s innovative MiteNot technonogy here.


Translucent Solar Noise Barriers (SONOBS) in the Netherlands

Form meets function.  A Dutch researcher from the Eindhoven University of Technology has designed a new luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) panel which is thinner, cheaper and aesthetically pleasing. On June 18 several test panels were installed along the busy A2 highway as a pilot project for a new product which combines the need for solar energy capture with noise abatement.  Michael Debije, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, designed the panels to reabsorb light as they channel it to the solar arrays at their edges.  The light is then transferred to conventional panels at the sides. This results in enough electricity to power 50 homes from one kilometer (0.62 miles).


The Technology

  • SONOBS – Solar Noise Barriers
  • luminescent solar concentrators (LSC) = translucent sheets bounce light internally to the edges of the panels, where it’s beamed onto regular solar panels in concentrated form
  • solar cells are hidden in the frame of the barrier
  • works under the gray skies of Northern Europe
  • Currently being tested along A2 highway

The Sustainability Problem

  • Suitable for urban areas
  • Shields noise without cutting off view
  • Produces renewable energy
  • Reduces reliability on non-sustainable electricity
  • Future: expansion throughout the Netherlands, international market

The Technology Stakeholders

  • Scientists and academics
  • Businesses (producers of technology and energy consumers)
  • Suppliers of component parts
  • Individual residents/consumers
  • Utilities
  • Local councils and Governments

The Steps to Technology Implementation

  • Continue “living lab” tests in Den Bosch, Netherlands
  • Measure the electrical output and explore business models
  • Identify business cases for the end user(s)


Smart Palms: WiFi Palm Trees in Dubai, UAE

Each solar powered tree is a sustainable recharge station with eight access points.  It provides complimentary WiFi out to 100 meters. In addition to being a hotspot, the Smart Palm displays security and emergency features and is completely powered by leaf-shaped photovoltaic solar panels.  Public information and government notices are displayed on digital outdoor screens with an opportunity for paid advertisements as well.  Users are encouraged to sit and relax while using the high-speed recharging stations (2.5 times faster) and free internet.

Smart Palm Features


  • Provides internet to beachgoers and park visitors
  • Currently installed at Zabeel Park and at the beach near Burj Al Arab in Dubai (with plans for expansion)
  • About 260 people use the wifi service each day, with 31 devices recharged daily
  • UAE has a high smartphone concentration; connectivity in demand
  • Fits Smart City plan as build up to hosting next “World Expo 2020” (held every 5 years)
  • Establishes valuable network for mobile data capture

Sustainability Problem

  • Clean and green approach to power supply
  • Renewable form of energy; stores power for later use
  • Keeps citizens and visitors connected
  • Reduces demand on traditional power grid
  • Dubai is most populous city in UAE
  • Uses resources from the natural world
  • Future application: Smart Palm technology can expand to more cities/locations

Technology Stakeholders

  • D Idea Media, founding company/creators
  • Local government and agencies that disseminate public information (Dubai Municipality, etc.)
  • City planners and managers who access data (usage, mobility, etc.)
  • Suppliers of component parts
  • Individual smartphone users/passersby who access or view touch screens
  • Retailers, service providers and researchers who value collected data

Technology Implementation

  • Determine economic efficiency/profitability; cost of Smart Palm tech vs ROI (value of data collected)
  • Start with pilot project, monitor results
  • Adjust locations as necessary; replicate in desirable areas
  • Share new technology and best practices


Self-Healing or “Living” Concrete

The bio-concrete healing itself (Image Courtesy of Delft University)

Imagine if a crack in the pavement miraculously “healed” itself? Prof. Erik Schlangen of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands spent seven years developing the technology. A pilot program is in place in Ecuador. Last December, researchers assisted farmers with the installation of bio-concrete irrigation canals. The goal is to perfect the technology and expand its use around the globe.

The Technology

  • Bacteria-based solution to fix small cracks; also called bio-concrete
  • Pilot project in Ecuador: built irrigation canals
  • Concrete still most widely used building material due to strength and durability




The Sustainability Problem

  • Cracks in concrete/asphalt lead to leaks and weakened structures
  • Necessitates use of more concrete to repair cracks
  • Concrete has extremely harmful environmental impacts
  • Next to coal-powered electricity, cement manufacture is the next biggest emitter of GHGs
  • Cement manufacture accounts for nearly 5% of annual anthropogenic global CO2
  • Requires intense heating process which is fueled by burning fossil fuels and also breaks down calcium carbonate
  • Every ton of cement produces a ton of CO2
  • Self-healing concrete is a green solution; reduces need for frequent repair/replacement

The Technology Stakeholders

  • Builders and architects
  • Cement and concrete manufactures
  • Real estate project developers
  • Farmers and growers
  • Consumers

Process of Technology Implementation

  • Identify locations with greatest need
  • Monitor results and refine formula if necessary
  • Replicate pilot in multiple locations worldwide
  • Share new technology and best practices

Video: Pilot project in Ecuador

Himalayan Hydropower and Gross National Happiness (GNP)

Green Power Development Project – Construction of Dagachhu Hydropower Development in Bhutan

1) The Technology In Use ===  Hydroelectric Power Generation

The tiny nation of Bhutan, nestled high in the Himalayan Mountains, is poised to become an energy superpower.  Its prime position between two populous and growing nations – China and India – means it has the opportunity to utilize vast natural resources of flowing water and cutting edge technology of hydroelectric dams.  In a quest to attract clean, green and sustainable businesses, the nation continues to construct mega dams including:

Tala hydroelectric project (2007): located on the Wangchu River; gravity dam technology generates 3.821 GWh power solely for India and is delivered through transmission lines.

Chhukha hydroelectric project (1970s): located on the Wangchhu River; gravity dam technology generates 1.700 GWh.

Kurichhu hydroelectric project (2001): located on the Kuri Chhu River; gravity dam technology generates 0.379 GWh.

Basochhu hydroelectric project (Plant I & Plant II, 1997-2004): located near Wangdue Phodrang; dam technology generates 0.334 GWh.

Dagachhu hydroelectric project (Feb. 2015): located on Dagachhu River; gravity dam technology generates power for India.  First cross-border CDM of the UNFCCC.


2) The Sustainability Problem ===

Population:  China and India represent 20% and 17% of the world’s population, respectively.  At the current growth rate, India is expected to surpass China in the next few decades.

Economic Growth: As more people in India rise out of poverty, per capita energy consumption increases.

Clean Energy: Coal, kerosene and wood burning are the common methods of energy generation in poor households and small villages where electricity is not available. Hydroelectric power is a renewable energy source which does not emit harmful GHGs.

Ecological Preservation: Harnessing hydro electric power while maintaining national commitment to environmental sustainability.

3) The Technology Stakeholders ===

Contractors (designers, workers, operators)

Suppliers of component parts

Government of Bhutan

India Consumers

Individual residents/consumers

Bhutan Utility subsidiary

India Utility distributor

4) Process for Technology Implementation ===

Identify needs of India consumers/population

Determine economic efficiency/profitability; cost of tech vs ROI

Educate/Inform Bhutan residents of impact on natural environment

Monitor energy output from plant and consumption in India

Foster collaboration between nations under multilateral organization

Share new technology and best practices

Amsterdam Uses Living Plants to Generate Electricity

1) The Technology In Use === literal definition: power plant; harvesting electric power from living plants.

Dutch scientists have come up with a way to harness electricity from living plants and use it to power street lights, cell phone chargers and WiFi hot spots. These small-scale applications use a byproduct of photosynthesis in plants.  Think of it as solar energy.  The unused energy produced by plants is excreted as excess sugars through the root system and consumed by micro-organisms. This consumption frees electrons.  In a process patented by Wageningen University in 2007, carbon electrodes are placed close to the roots to generate electricity.

2) The Sustainability Problem ===

  • Clean and green approach
  • Renewable form of energy; generates power day and night (unlike solar or wind)
  • Uses resources from the natural world
  • Future application: electrifying poor or inaccessible locations

3) The Technology Stakeholders ===

  • Businesses (producers of technology and business consumers)
  • Suppliers of component parts
  • Individual residents/consumers
  • Utilities
  • Governments (developed & developing countries)
  • Multilateral institutions: civil society organizations (CSOs)

4) Process for Technology Implementation ===

  • Identify needs of consumers/population
  • Determine economic efficiency/profitability; cost of tech vs ROI
  • Involve consumers in planning projects
  • Start with pilot project, then replicate
  • Monitor results; adjust or abandon initiative
  • Foster collaboration between nations under multilateral organization
  • Share new technology and best practices

The ultimate goal is to perfect the process and reduce cost so that plant electricity can be deployed in rural and difficult to reach areas, typically found in poorer countries where an estimated 25 percent of the world’s population is without power.