Fossil-Fuel Free Power Plants

Sustainability Issue: Air Pollution from Coal Burning Power Plants
In the United States, coal burning power plants emit 1.7 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and are primarily responsible for climate change.  Burning coal is the top source of CO2 emissions globally and a leading factor in smog, acid rain, as well as toxic air pollution.

Sustainable Technology Solution: Fossil-Fuel Free Power Plants
A power plant in the northwest of Stockholm, Sweden has committed to only burning renewable and recycled fuels in an effort to combat CO2 emissions that lead to global warming.  Sweden is hoping to phase out fossil fuel use by the end of this decade and one method is by converting coal burning power plants to biofuels and garbage.  The aforementioned plant, which is located in Vasteras, Sweden has started to work with the Swedish-based clothing store H&M who by law, must discard any clothing that has been contaminated with mold or does not meet the countries strict restrictions on chemicals.  In 2017, the plant used 15 tons of discarded clothing from H&M.  Although, most of their garbage-based fuel is supplied from the 400,000 tons of trash from neighboring towns and trash that is imported to the plant from areas in Great Britain.  The plant currently provides energy to 50,000 households in Sweden and at its peak in 1996 it burned approximately 650,000 tons of coal.  But, just last week, the last coal carrying ship came to Vasteras to supply the plant with just enough to last until 2020 when they will completely phase out their fossil burning furnace.  They also recently added a wood-fired boiler to supplement the biofuel and trash burning units on the plant’s site.

Technology Stakeholders:

  • Power Plant Owners and Operators
  • Multinational Clothing Company
  • City Waste Management Agencies
  • Air Pollution Federal Agency
  • Air Pollution Non-profits

Implementation: 

  1. Create a sustainably-minded Public-Private Partnership between City and Multinational Corporation who manufacture clothing
  2. Collaborate with Aging Power Plant looking to incorporate new technologies
  3. Model system after plant in Vasteras, Sweden by phasing in biofuel and trash burning options with the addition of a wood-fired boiler on site.
  4. In first year of implementation set goal of 20 tons of discarded materials from the clothing manufacturer and 100 tons of municipal trash.
  5. If successful, set a goal of 10 years for full phase-out of fossil fuels.

Comment on Other Blog: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/24/commercial-electric-plane/#comment-1478

Sources:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-24/burning-h-m-rags-is-new-black-as-swedish-plant-ditches-coal
http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/coal-air-pollution#.Whh9n7Q-dQI
https://inhabitat.com/this-swedish-power-plant-is-burning-hm-clothes-instead-of-fossil-fuels/

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1) Sustainability Problem: Vehicle Congestion and Air Pollution
For city residents, traffic is a huge environmental problem as well as a nuisance.  Too many drivers on the road cause delays, decrease productivity, and increase air pollution.  According to the EPA, “vehicles produce roughly one-half of pollutants like VOCs, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter” and 75% of CO2 emissions are from automobiles.

2) Sustainability TechnologyUPS Cargo Bikes
Vehicles emissions are a growing concern for policy-makers who are beginning to recognize the emissions and climate change impacts of freight transportation. They are starting to look at the role of technology can play in delivering goods more reliable and in a more sustainable fashion.  They are also looking to reduce congestion, improve road safety, and decrease CO2 emissions that lead to health risks and climate change. Large retailers are partnering with cities to improve freight transport and UPS has proven to be one such leader with the inception of their Cargo-bikes.  Since their release in 2012 in Hamburg, Germany, UPS has had a lot of success with their Cargo bikes and they are now rolling them out (literally) in the Northeast, starting with Pittsburg in the United States and Toronto in Canada.  Although the bikes hold much less capacity than their vans, they are looking to improve the technology to allow for an increase in capacity.  The rider must power the bike to pull the heavy cargo which as has been the biggest challenge.  However, the bikes now come with e-assist.  Through either a battery pack or solar panels on the roof of the cargo bin, the bike can have enough supply to help move the wheels for up to 18 hours.  Plus, pedaling the bikes helps to recharge the batteries while the driver is on the go!

3) Technology Stakeholders

  • UPS
  • Public Officials
  • City Agencies (Department of Transportation)
  • City Residents
  • Small Businesses

4) Implementation

  1. Locate small to medium-sized city where congestion is such a problem
  2. Using the Toronto model, and ones that have been successful in Europe, introduce 5 UPS cargo bikes throughout the city
  3. Test this out and if successful, add 5 more bikes to the fleet
  4. Once cargo bikes are successful, launch campaign to provide awareness on the issue of congestion to city residents and how it is being combatted by this technology
  5. Repeat model in other cities

5) Comment on Other Blog Post: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/16/newater-is-tackling-island-nations-primary-challenge/#comments

Sources:

Turning SkyScrapers into Solar Farms

1) Sustainability ProblemEnergy Use
70% of Electrical Production relies on fossil fuels and the USDA has predicted that by the 2030s electrical demand will increase by 40%.  Currently, buildings use 40% of the electricity generated in the United States and this is expected to increase.  Currently, photovoltaic technology, which uses sunlight to create energy, is gaining momentum as a form of renewable energy yet in order to harvest enough energy to run a commercial building, a huge swath of land must be employed.  Roof-installed solar panels are not sufficient as their limited size also limits the amount of solar energy they can absorb.

1) Sustainable Technology: Solar Windows
Solar Windows Technology, Inc. has created a solution to energy production that would create acres of vertical solar farms in cities by installing solar paneled windows on skyscrapers and tall towers.  They claim that this innovative technology would eliminate the need to use vast acres of land as a 50 story building could generate the same energy production as a 6-acre solar farm and allow for both electrical generation and energy banking.  Solar Windows Technology, Inc is targeting towers and skyscrapers which consume about 40% of the energy generated for electricity in the United States.  They claim that financial models show that these windows could save building owners 30-50% per year and installation would have a simple payback of 1 year.  According to a recent article in Newsweek, “Researchers say transparent solar cell technology that harvests invisible wavelengths of light could meet nearly 100 percent of energy demand in the United States.”  While there are still issues with efficiency of solar panels, and these windows are not immune to this problem, researchers are seeing improvements and they believe that approximately “5 billion to 7 billion square meters of glass surface in the United States could be used to meet 40 percent of the country’s energy demand, or “close to 100 percent” if energy storage is improved.”

3) Technology Stakeholder

  • Sustainable Investors
  • Large Building Onwers
  • Solar Windows Technology Inc.
  • City Agencies

4) Implementation

  1. Identify a large city that has a sustainable energy problem they want to address.
  2. Create a public-private partnership between the chosen city, sustainable investors, and Solar Windows Technology, Inc.
  3. Create a multi-year timeline to roll-out solar window technology in 5 city-owned and operated buildings that have been monitoring their energy use for at least 5-10 years.  This is essential to create baseline measurements.
  4. Install in 2 buildings over first 6 month period.
  5. Compare savings every 3 months after installation to the baseline measurements ensuring that the comparison covers the same period of the year (i.e. February compared to February).
  6. After the first year, if energy savings are 30-50% as expected, roll-out to remaining 3 buildings.  If the model is successful, create a policy for new construction and building retrofits for all city-owned buildings.

5) Comment on Other Blog Post: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/09/the-benefits-of-waste-to-energy-technologies/comment-page-1/#comment-1368

Gasification – How to energize Trash!

2) Sustainability ProblemSolid Waste and GHG Emissions Reductions

Solid waste contains a lot of potential yet only 2% of it is currently used to generate energy and 17 million metric tonnes of non-recycled garbage are produced every week.  Moreover, the continued use of gasoline is adding CO2 to the atmosphere and exacerbating greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, there are 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere and without quick and concrete action, there will be no chance to mitigate the effects of climate change.  In order to address this issue, the adaption of biofuels will be essential for many sectors including automobiles, oil and gas, and agriculture, however, converting to biofuels from fossil fuels will decrease dependence on foreign suppliers, decrease GHG emissions, and reduce overall costs.

2) Sustainable Technology: Gasification of Waste to create Ethanol and Methanol

Enerkem, a company located in Canada, is converting garbage into biofuels through gasificiaton.  This technological process converts unrecoverable (non-recyclable and non-compostable) waste into syngas which is made up of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Syngas is clean, sustainable, and can be produced at a low-cost.  Syngas can be used to replace fossil fuels, liquid fuel, and liquid crude oil as it can be transformed into green diesel fuel.  Enerkem “transforms the syngas into “cellulosic ethanol” and methanol, which can be used to create a clean-burning fuel. Gasoline with ethanol has more oxygen, which helps it combust more completely, thus reducing emissions.”  Enerkem just opened the first commercial-scale gasification plant in Edmonton, Alberta and they plan to keep increasing production of advanced forms of biofuel which can replace gasoline.

 

3) Technology Stakeholders

  • Enerkem
  • Public Officials
  • City Agencies
  • Sustainable Investors

4) Implementation

  1. Locate medium-sized city where trash is such a problem that exporting of waste is a necessity.
  2. Using the City of Edmonton model, convince local officials and city agencies that the creation of an Enerkem plant will be beneficial.
  3. Raise Capital to create the plant
  4. Initiate Construction while hiring human capital
  5. On-site Testing and Implementation

5) Comment on Other Blog Post: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/25/biometric-gun-lock/comment-page-1/#comment-1270

Sources:

 

Dirty Clothes and No Grid Access? No Problem!

Sustainability Technology: Yirego Corporation has developed a quick way to do laundry without using electricity.  With a holding capacity of up to 2kg (4.4 pounds), the Drumi, can do a load of lightly soiled clothes within about 5 minutes.  Pedal operated, the Drumi can handle 5L of water for each load.

Sustainability Issue: An estimated 1.2 billion people or 16% of the global population do not have access to electricity and most of them live in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia meaning without a significant change in infrastructure, they are unlikely to get grid access any time soon.  Doing laundry in the developing world is very time consuming and takes a lot of physical energy as well.  The laundress (or launder) has to find a water source, soak then scrub the clothes, wring them dry, and carry the clothes back to be dried out in the sun.  On top of all this, the harsh scrubbing process can compromise the structural integrity of the clothes being washed.  The Drumi drastically cut down on the time and physical activity.  The water can be collected separately, which is probably already a daily task, and the cleaning can be done at home.  With just a 5 minute cycle, approximately 5-6 loads (including hanging) can be done in one hour. Admittedly, the Drumi, at $140 is probably too expensive for some households, and financing would most likely be necessary, but a cost benefit analysis would likely show that it is a useful investment.

Sustainability Stakeholders: 

  • Families with limited or No Access to the Grid
  • Launders/Laundresses in Developing countries
  • Developmental Organizations
  • Rural Communities
  • Avid Campers
  • Mobile Home Residents
  • Urban Residents without Washer/Dryer

Implementation Steps:

  • Research a community in sub-Saharan Africa with a need for a better laundry system.
  • Find funding through a development grant using the research as a basis for need.
  • Establish a public/private partnership with Yirego
  • Work with local community and establish a working partner in region who can train, maintain, and distribute Drumi systems to families in the region.
  • Offer a financing package through the grant and private partnership
  • If successful, create the same model with other developing communities.

Sources:
http://laundry.reviewed.com/features/drumi-tiny-washing-machine-needs-no-electricity
http://www.yirego.com/drumi
http://opensourceecology.org/w/images/d/dd/Laundry.pdf

Comment on Other Blog Post:
https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/12/all-electric-mining-truck-produces-more-energy-than-it-consumes-via-regenerative-breaking/comment-page-1/#comment-1190

Designer Davorin Mesari turns city residents into farmers

Sustainability Technology: Designer Davorin Mesari has created an indoor garden made up of 16 individual growing pods, allowing city dwellers with minimal space to grow fruits and vegetable. The growing units are stackable, so output can be doubled without compromising precious urban space.

Sustainability Problem: Access to Healthy Foods

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health’s website, “A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check.”  They confirm that while all fruits and vegetables contribute to health benefits, “green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens” are some of the most important health contributors.  Despite these findings, many urban dwellers find themselves too busy to cook a healthy meal and rely instead on take out, delivery, or processed foods which are often unhealthy.  More often than not, these items are packaged in such a way that contribute to negative environmental impacts. Davorin Mesari’s innovative product, aptly named ‘Indoor Garden’  allows city residents to grow produce healthy food in the comfort of their apartments. This inventive technology creates an indoor modern garden that is powered by fluorescent lighting which mimics the natural solar spectrum allowing urban denizens to grow their own healthy vegetables and greens at home without creating unnecessary waste, and thus making the production of a healthy meal not only easy but more accessible.

Davorin Mesari’s state-of-the-art technology could be implemented in a central setting, such as a school or community center, as an urban agricultural project offering locally grown produce into a food desert, or area where there is limited access to healthy, fresh food. One issue with urban farming is finding the land on which to farm and ensuring that the soil is not contaminated.  With ‘Indoor Garden,’ you don’t need to find land on which to farm or worry about soil as the units come with growing pods and are stackable to maximize indoor space. Moreover, these units can serve as educational devices, and, once installed, can showcase the cultivation, harvesting, and the preparation of healthy meals.

Technology Stakeholders:

  • Urban Residents
  • Schools
  • Community Centers
  • Urban Farmers
  • Farm to Table Enthusiasts

Process of Implementation: 

Step 1: Introduce this new technology through an educational workshop to a community group or school and describe the feasibility of implementation.

Step 2: Based on local interest and available funding, establish a site for implementation.

Step 3: Work with local businesses to attract further financing (if necessary) by creating excitement around the new technology.

Step 4: Once funds are raised and site is established, buy 5 units for testing and establish a protocol to ensure maintenance of product.

Step 5: Collect feedback from community group/school and establish ways to enhance the next phase or implementation at a second site.

Source: 

Yanko Design’s ‘Cultivation in the City by Troy Turner

The Nutrition Source (Vegetables and Fruits)

Starting A City Farm