See-Through Solar Could Turn Windows, Phones Into Power Sources

Category: Energy

1) Problem: Many buildings and other areas are hit with enormous amounts of energy that, instead of being captured, just increase heat and often require more energy to be used for cooling. Furthermore, where we need power the most is often where there is the least space for solar panels.

2) Summary: 

Article: National Geographic.

Company website: Ubiquitous Energy.

  • Greatly increases the potential area that can capture solar energy.
  • Silicon Valley startup Ubiquitous Energy, a company started by researchers at MIT and Michigan State, is leading the development of transparent photovoltaics. Its mission is to eliminate the battery life limitations of mobile devices and power smart glass for buildings.
  • Its ClearView Power technology transmits up to 90% of visible light, absorbing only ultraviolet and infrared.
  • The panels have 10% efficiency, are low-cost, non-toxic, less than 1/1000th of a millimeter think and can generate electricity on any surface or device without aesthetic impact.


3) Stakeholders

  • Ubiquitous Energy and investors
  • Scientists/developers of technology/Universities
  • Potential consumers of technology
  • Cities that want to increase their renewable energy use
  • State and federal institutes funding the research
  • NGOs (sustainable development, energy, solar, green building, etc.)

4) Deployment

  • Increase funding for R&D of this technology
  • Partner with other companies to develop engineering and product prototypes
  • Conduct pilot for electronics and windows
  • Incentivize commercial and personal use
  • Expand deployment and use

Value from Sewage? A New Technology Cleans Up Waste Water

Category: Water and Waste

1) Problem: Wastewater from sewage treatment plants is often seen as more of a liability than a resource. Furthermore, treated sewage water, which can still contain elevated nutrient levels, is sometimes dumped into rivers and oceans, which hurts water quality and biodiversity.

2) Summary 


Company website 


  •  Ostara, the Vancouver-based company responsible for this new technology, uses it to collect phosphorous and ammonia from municipal sewage treatment plants, and then turns them into fertilizer pellets
  • “Instead of viewing wastewater streams as waste, Ostara sees a renewable resource that can generate cost savings and revenues for the treatment plant while helping them meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations.”
  • Process can save cities money by ensuring that treatment plants operate smoothly and efficiently, and reduces sludge and associated disposal costs
  • Will likely reduce polluted agricultural runoff as the company’s fertilizer pellets are easier for plants to absorb than regular synthetic fertilizers
  • Phosphorous is also in short supply, with the last big reserves located in Morocco, China, and Algeria, and prices have tripled since 2006

3) Stakeholders 

  • Ostara and and investors
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • City governments
  • NGOs
  • Communities affected by agricultural runoff

4) Deployment 

  • Target cities with largest sewage treatment plants
  • Collect data to determine how effectively this technology reduces costs and sludge output
  • Expand deployment to other US cities and other countries

View Dynamic Glass: A More Intelligent Window

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.13.59 AM

Category: Energy

1) Problem: Buildings in the US account for around 40% of energy use and more than 70% of electricity use, around half of which is from commercial buildings. According to View’s website,  China’s buildings account for more than 30% of the country’s energy use and the country is set to produce 50% of the world’s new buildings through 2020, which will greatly increase global energy consumption, especially when coupled with other areas of the world that are rapidly developing.

2) Summary 

View, Inc website.

  • Regular glass but has 5 thin layers of metal oxide deposited on it that are only 1 micron thick (1/50th of a human hair), and when a tiny electric charge is applied to these layers it causes the glass to tint electronically, which reduces unwanted heat and glare and can save over 20% on building energy use.
  • The glass can automatically adjust using view intelligence, which means that individual windows, zones or whole facades can respond intuitively to outside conditions based on variables like latitude and longitude, astronomical data, building orientation, time of day, cloud cover, window placement, building heat load, and desk location. The glass then uses this data to calculate the relative position of the sun at any given moment.
  • A light sensor on the building also gathers current information about the weather, while the system gathers real time web feeds from multiple weather services so it can always predict future weather.
  • The windows can be integrated into building management systems, which means the glass communicates with interior lighting and heating and cooling so everything adjusts in unison to maximize comfort and save energy.
  • The glass reduces demand on HVAC systems, especially during peak loads, and can be controlled from a smart phone app.

3) Stakeholders 

  • View, Inc. and investors
  • Home and commercial building owners and tenants around the world
  • Local governments seeking to lessen building energy usage, GHG emissions

4) Deployment 

  • Encourage use of View Glass in new buildings through tax credits and other incentives
  • Collect data on buildings with largest energy usage and target most wasteful buildings
  • Analyze glass effectiveness in reducing buildings’ energy use
  • Expand use of glass, especially in new buildings and in developing countries

Smart Tracking to Reduce Food Waste


Category: Waste

1) Problem: Huge quantities of food are wasted before they even make it to grocery stores. “Wasting food is not only an inefficient use of ecosystem services [like water] and of the fossil-fuel based resources that go into producing them, but also a significant contributor to global warming. In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions” – UNEP

2) Summary 

Technology Can Help Reduce Food Waste. Forbes.

Company website.

  • Intelleflex, a California-based company, uses a system with RFID tags and a cellular reader with a GPS device to help identify produce that might not be getting moved quickly enough.
  • Tags record temperature and time data that is immediately sent to a cloud-based network.
  • Allows companies to better manage reduce and gauge the shelf-life of food – “Tomatoes sitting in the sun on the runway for hours should be sold before those that sat inside the cool airport before being loaded onto the plane.”
  • The tags are reusable and cost less than $1 per use or less, and will better insure that produce worth hundreds of dollars reaches consumers in time.
  • System does not require expensive software to run and makes the data available to producers via the cloud.

3) Stakeholders

  • Intelleflex
  • Growers
  • Distributors
  • Consumers
  • Grocers
  • NGOs
  • Waste managers

4) Deployment

  • Collect data on most wasteful regions/sectors/companies
  • Work with governments in large farming communities to incentivize the use of this technology amongst most wasteful constituents
  • Analyze effectiveness and make any improvements
  • Expand use of technology

Smart Tech Food Labels Can Help Reduce Food Waste

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 1.53.45 PM

Category: Waste, Energy

1) Problem: Up to 40% of the food in the United States is wasted – roughly 20 pounds per person per month at a cost of $165 billion annually. Producing food uses 10% of our energy, 50% of US land and accounts for 80% of freshwater consumption.

2) Summary: 

  • Insignia CO2 Detection Pallet Labels show freshness of food that has been packaged in pallets.
  • Allows for faster, more accurate handling of food throughout the supply chain.
  • Shows which pallets should be moved first by displaying the CO2 balance of each pallet.
  • Allows identification and repackaging of defective pallets, which better protects food during the shipping process.

3) Organizational Stakeholders:

  • SmartTech Labels company
  • Food growers
  • Distributors
  • Grocers
  • Consumers
  • Local governments trying to reduce food waste

4) Deployment 

  1. Identify most wasteful growers/distributors/shippers/food sectors and target through existing data
  2. Engage them and demonstrate potential savings
  3. Identify partners and expand use

Micro Turbine Technology

Category: Energy 

  1. Problem: Domestic energy production is often not very efficient.
  2. Summary:
    •  A heating system that also produces electricity.
    • Produces 3 kW electric power and can reduce energy bills by 20-25%.
    • Meets environmental standards with little noise and low exhaust emissions.
    • Can use a range of fuels, including natural gas, propane, heating oil and biogas.
    • “The potential of low cost micro gas turbines as a ‘prime mover’ for converting small scale thermal energy into mechanical/electrical power is enormous.”
  3. Stakeholders 
    • Micro Turbine Technology BV (MTT) and its investors
    • Homeowners, commercial interests, retailers, etc.
    • Partners (industrial, energy distribution/utility companies)
  4. Deployment
    • Create partnerships, particularly with energy distribution/utility companies
    • Incentivize potential users to adopt the turbines where feasible
    • Purchase and installation by users

Enevo: Waste Collection for Smart Cities

Category: Waste 

  1. Problem: Waste collection can be inefficient, expensive, noisy, polluting, and hard on roads and vehicles.
  2. Summary: 
    • Comprehensive logistics technology that saves time, money, and is environmentally beneficial.
    • Uses wireless sensors to measure and forecast how full waste receptacles are and uses that information to create smart collection plans with the best schedules and routes.
    • Direct cost-savings can be up to 50%.
    • “Until now collecting waste has been done using static routes and schedules where containers are collected every day or week regardless of if they are full or not.”
    • Reduces costs, emissions, road wear, vehicle wear, noise pollution and work hours.
  3. Stakeholders
    • Enevo and its investors
    • City planners
    • City government
    • Residents
  4. Deployment 
    • Incentivize waste management companies to use the service
    • Design waste management contracts with Enevo
    • Scale up deployment

How Nanotechnology Could Make Car Catalysts More Sustainable

Category: Safety and Health; Energy

  1. Problem: Although three-way catalysts reduce more efficiently than older models, they still rely on platinum group metals, rare earth  metals, and zirconium oxide, all of which can be hazardous to human health and the environment and have low recycling rates.
  2. Summary:
    • The technology is the brainchild of NewCatCo, a participant in the New Design for the Circular Economy (NDCE) project hosted by the Technology Strategy Board program in the UK.
    • Paul Sermon, NewCatCo’s technical director and a professor at Brunel University, is hoping to create more of a circular model for the catalysts, one that could reuse up to 90% of the materials used.
    • The new three-way catalysts will be “based on monolithic designs, using novel nano-engineered sustainable materials that can be nano-processed,” which Sermon believes would greatly enhance their recyclability.
  3. Stakeholders
    • The company and its investors
    • Car manufacturers
    • Consumers
    • Government (seeking to combat air pollution)
    • The public (will benefit from cleaner air)
  4. Deployment
    • Carry out feasibility studies, including things like health and environmental impacts, supply chain issues, and lifecycle analysis
    • If design proves feasible work with UK government and car manufacturers to implement on a small scale
    • If successful scale up design

Inexpensive Nanotech Water Filters Developed in India

  1. Problem (Water)
    • Roughly one in ten people lack access to clean drinking water
  2. Cheap Nanotech Filter Clears Hazardous Microbes and Chemicals from Drinking Water
    • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have developed an inexpensive water filter that could bring potable water to those who need it most (as little as $2.50 per family per year).
    • There have been other cheap water filters, but this one is able to remove bacteria, viruses, arsenic, lead, pesticides and other contaminants using nano particles that release streams of silver ions that eliminate microbes.
    • The researchers added other materials to the filter cartridge to remove pesticides, lead, and other heavy metals.
    • Filtration takes about an hour for ten liters of water.
  3. Organizational Stakeholders
    • People and families without access to safe drinking water, first in India and then hopefully around the globe
    • Local governments
  4. Deployment
    • Identify areas in India with the greatest need and where distribution would be able to reach a wide number of people
    •  Implement educational programs on what the technology is and how it works
    • Establish distribution centers where people can purchase the filters