Problem: While biomass accounts for 73 percent of renewable energy production worldwide, crops grown for energy production burden land, water and fertilizer resources. Also, environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem.
A new study shows that turkey excrement may have a future as a fuel for heat and electricity. Treated excrement from turkeys, chickens and other poultry, when converted to combustible solid biomass fuel, could replace approximately 10 percent of coal used in electricity generation, reducing greenhouse gases and providing an alternative energy source. Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source is an environmentally superior alternative that also reduces reliance on fossil fuels.
The researchers have compared the production, combustion and gas emissions of biochar, which is produced by slow heating of the biomass at a temperature of 450°C (842°F) in an oxygen-free furnace with hydrochar. Hydrochar is produced by heating wet biomass to a much lower temperature of up to 250 °C under pressure using a process called hydrothermal carbonization (HTC).
The researchers found that poultry waste processed as hydrochar produced 24 percent higher net energy generation. Since poultry waste hydrochar generates heat at high temperatures and combusts in a similar manner to coal, it can replace it as a renewable energy source.
Researchers also showed that higher HTC production temperatures resulted in a significant reduction in emissions of methane (CH4) and ammonia (NH3) and an increase of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Thus, treated poultry waste could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation and agricultural wastes.
Poultry farm owners
Biomass handling agencies
Biofuel consumers: companies, government agencies, individuals
Further assessment with hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) reactor should be conducted to confirm the assessments from this laboratory-scale study
Collaboration with poultry farm owners for collection of poultry waste and then treating it for generating renewable energy
Sustainable Problem: Air-conditioned buildings bring welcome relief to people coming in from the heat. But creating that comfort comes with a cost to our wallets and the environment in the form of increased energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.
Category: Energy and Living
We already have moisture-wicking and smell-proof athletic gear and apparel that can block ultraviolet rays. Researchers have now designed a thermal regulation textile that has a 55% greater cooling effect than cotton, which translates to our own personal cooling unit, without any external energy needed to power it.
The researchers combined boron nitride—a material that transfers heat—and polyvinyl alcohol to create a Nano composite fiber that can be 3-D printed and woven into fabric. Testing to simulate the material on skin showed that the composite is 1.5 to 2 times more efficient at moving heat away from the body when compared to pure polyvinyl alcohol or cotton fabrics, respectively. Making clothes with the nano composite thread could help keep wearers comfortable and reduce the need to cool entire buildings.
The researchers would need to plan to work toward realizing these applications with the help of the textile designers and scale up the production so that more of this technology is accessible to people around.
Customers would need to be incentivized to use this technology-enabled fabric and encourage others through word of mouth.
I am a bit confused! The Cost per panel of WSPV technology is 65 cents per watt as per the article and it is also noted that only 20% of the tomato reap is benefited from the magenta windows. Do you think this Electricity-generating solar system could be better utilised in rural/urban areas for generating electricity more efficiently and at less cost than traditional photovoltaic systems?
Problem: In the event of a natural disaster, a person’s most basic needs — food, water, shelter and electricity are often compromised. One necessity often overlooked is the availability of working toilets.
For those affected by natural disasters, Tokyo-based design company nendo has designed a simple, innovative portable toilet kit that can be assembled using found materials and can be completely dismantled for easy transportation.
The toilet kit named minimLET, comprises of six items: a toilet seat, aluminum pipes, nylon tent cloth, pocket tissues, garbage bags and coagulant. The minimLET toilet can even have multifunctional parts: aluminum poles can be used to prop up the toilet seat or support the nylon tent, which can also function as a poncho. And the bag that contains the kit is impermeable and can be used as a 16-liter bucket.
When living in evacuation shelters in contemporary urban spaces, various everyday items and waste materials are also available to use. The kit’s structure takes up very little space and can also be supported with a plastic umbrella, tin cans, or plastic water bottles (prototype below).
NGOs, Municipal authorities, Communities lacking access to basic and safe sanitation
Partner with NGOs and governments for outreach, training and to disseminate toilet kits in areas with need
Find industrial manufacturers and investors willing to partner for scalability of the product
Continue to search for new ways to build and use easily available items in designing multifunctional products for evacuation shelters
Robotic Nurse Assistant – RIBAI still feel that when it comes to nursing care, no robot can replace a human care! Hope they work and feel as good! However for lifting purposes levers could be used instead. Robots sound best in doing complex surgeries..
Landfills and sewage plants produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas and a contributor to climate change. Moreover, durability of concrete structures is always questionable.
University of British Columbia engineers have developed a more resilient type of concrete using recycled tires.
Recycled-rubber roads are not new. But using the polymer fibres from tires has the unique benefit of potentially improving the resilience of concrete and extending its lifespan by reducing crack formation by more than 90 per cent compared to regular concrete.
Adding the fibre to concrete could shrink the tire industry’s carbon footprint and also reduce the construction industry’s emissions, since cement is a major source of GHG. One recycled tire produces 1kg or fiber that can be used to make concrete stronger. Almost three billion tires are produced each year around the world that ultimately land up in landfills. Therefore, these tires can be recycled to generate close to three billion kilograms of fibre.
Landfill / waste plant operators, Waste management operators, Civil engineers, urban landscape developers, city government
Since adding the fibre to the concrete leads to improved durability with better resistance to loads and cracking, this technology could be used for concrete structures like buildings, roads, dams and bridges while reducing landfill waste and lowering the carbon footprint of the city. Introducing this new technology via smaller pilot projects in infrastructure development is suggested as the first step to implementation
Expand scope and application of technology to bigger infrastructure and development projects
Monitor the progress of this technology and record data on how it has reduced the environmental impact and lowered maintenance costs
There exists a need for artificial muscles that are silent, soft, and compliant, with performance characteristics similar to those of skeletal muscle, enabling people to overcome their disabilities. Different types of electric motors or pneumatic systems drive exoskeletons, prosthetic and assistive devices to enhance human performance or aid disabled people to walk and carry out everyday tasks. They provide fast responses but are bulky, heavy, stiff, noisy, non-biological in feeling, and as such less accepted by the end user.
Textile processing permits scalable and rational production of wearable artificial muscles, and enables novel ways to design assistive devices.
Swedish researchers have created actuators (An actuatoris a type of motor that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or system)— from cellulose yarn coated with a polymer that reacts to electricity. These fibers are then woven and knitted using standard industrial machines and coated with conducting polymers using a metal-free deposition. The researchers have called these textile actuators, “textuators”.
These textuators scale up force by parallel assembly of single fibers (Fig A), amplify the strain by using stretchable patterns ( B), and can be effectively mass fabricated. This will allow for a new means of driving and designing assistive devices, such as exoskeleton-like suits with integrated wearable actuators.
Hospitals, NGOs caring for disabled people, People with temporary or permanent disabilities, Elderly people, Prosthetic industry, Physiotherapists, People recovering from injuries etc.
Knitting and weaving artificial muscles could help create soft exoskeletons that people with disabilities could wear under their clothes to help them walk. By varying the processing method and the weaving pattern, it should be possible to tailor the force and strain characteristics of a textuator to the specific application at hand.
Sustainability Problem: Tissue paper and toilet paper account for a high proportion of solid waste from cities and contribute to deforestation.
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have comeup with the electricity from toilet paper project. They found that they could generate energy from waste toilet paper with about the same efficiency as a natural gas plant and for the same cost as in-home solar panels.
Used toilet paper from wastewater-treatment plants is collected, then dried out and converted it into a gas in a chamber that can reach up to 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit (900 degrees Celsius). They removed tars, ashes and moisture from the gas to leave behind mostly methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Those gases were fed into solid-side fuel cells, which maintain very high temperatures to generate low-emission (1/6th the carbon emissions of a coal plant) electricity from methane.
Waste toilet paper, is a continually available resource. In the international peer-reviewed journal Energy Technology, the researchers present the basic system design, as well as its electricity yield and overall efficiency, based on detailed mass and energy balance calculations. We might see the first Waste Tissue Paper-to-electricity plant being built in China.
Large commercial estates consume a lot of energy and in order to make these buildings energy neutral through use of solar panels, there is either insufficient roof surface or the cost of installing solar panels is too high.
Area of Sustainability: Energy
A tech startup ‘Physee’ has designed a transparent solar-powered double paned window product called PowerWindows that can convert light into electricity and can generate enough power to make buildings energy neutral. The windows have solar cells installed in the edges at a specific angle that allows the incoming solar light to be efficiently transformed into electricity.
The cost of the wiring that brings power from the grid to such windows is considerable in large commercial estates, and investing in power-generating windows would currently be more feasible for commercial use.
PowerWindows can be integrated with SmartWindows, which is another product that has integrated smart sensors in the window that sense the outside environment. SmartWindows control inside systems, such as air-conditioning and sunblinds, based on information about the outside conditions around the building.
Another product is being developed that would be coated with a special material that transforms incoming visible light into near-infrared light. This is then transported toward the solar cells in the edges of the windows. This second generation is expected to triple the energy efficiency. The coating is based on the rare-earth metal thulium that has the ability to transform a broad spectrum of light into near-infrared light.
Real Estate owners, Energy companies, Commercial and Government establishments, Utility companies, Window Glass manufacturers, Educational institution, Media
PowerWindows is patented. Activating a buildings’ facades with solar cells will significantly contribute to making any building energy neutral. The windows can provide 50W per square meter, which can compensate up to 75% of the energy consumption of buildings, unlike solar panels that have a limited surface area for buildings or alternative smart window solutions that have low conversion efficiencies. A user can charge a phone per every square meter [11 square feet] two times a day by plugging their smartphones into the windows using USB ports.
A luminescent thin-film coating to produce clear and colorless windows can be integrated in the design of any building without compromising the functionality or esthetics thereof, making it highly suitable for the built environment.