Sustainable Replacement for Palm Oil

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Problem: Palm Oil is an incredibly unsustainable and ecologically damaging resource, which is commonly found in most commercially produced, processed foods. The cultivation of the resource has lead to a large amount of deforestation, as well as the endangerment of animal species, most notably the Sumatran orangutan. Although companies like Unilever have claiming awareness and action to help rectify the damaging effects of obtaining palm oil, largely by creating “sustainable” palm oil forests, harvesting this resource is ultimately damaging local ecosystems, fracturing communities, and is of great harm to the planet.

Technology/Solution: A company called Kiverdi is creating a synthetic palm oil-like blend by using CO2. Akin to the process of brewing beer, Kiverdi uses, “microbes to transform waste carbon from industry into the new oil inside bioreactors.”

Stakeholders:

  • Citizens who live in regions with palm forests (Malaysia and Indonesia) where pollution rates are sky-high, due to palm oil cultivation
  • Multinational corporations such as ConAgra and Unilever that use palm oil in a large percentage of their product offerings
  • Global citizens/future generations

Implementation: Once approved, and deemed safe to use, it would likely take lobbying to activate legislation, mandating multinational corporations that manufacture processed food and personal care products, to (over a certain time period) shift the source of palm in their production lines to this more sustainable source.

Or, perhaps government could create tax incentives that encourage such businesses to gradually shift their palm provider to this synthetic source.

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3062466/this-startup-turns-co2-into-a-sustainable-replacement-for-palm-oil

 

Mosquito Repelling Technology

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Problem: Mosquitoes are not only a pest and a nuisance, they are known to carry a variety of infectious diseases, such as: West Nile Virus, Malaria, Yellow Fever, and Zika. They are undoubtedly contributors to public health issues worldwide.

Solution/Technology: Thermacell, which has been making repellent technology for the military, is creating a small and lightweight product for people to carry on their person. People will attach the repellent lantern to a heat source, which will then warm up a”blue repeller pad, which is soaked in allethrin, a synthetic version of an insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers,” which is more natural and less smelly than most of the chemical-heavy alternatives, as well as citronella candles.

Stakeholders: 

  • Campers/hikers/people who enjoy being outdoors
  • Developing nations that have epidemics of mosquito-born illnesses
  • Everyone else in the world who hates being bit by mosquitos

Implementation: Right now with the Zika crisis, I think it could be helpful if major South American cities did small pilots utilizing this technology, to see if the Zika rates drop in those areas. Perhaps they could either implement a lot of these lanterns in popular public outdoor locations, or perhaps provide them to individual households. Or, perhaps they could contract with Thermacell to build larger models of the lantern to cover a wider radius.

http://www.gizmag.com/thermacell-backpacker-repeller/44201/

Body Chemistry Bio Sensor

Lumee

Problem: Treating illness is expensive. In America, annual healthcare expenditures are well into the trillions, and around 75% of the treated illnesses are chronic yet should be preventable/manageable. Additionally, people are living longer but not necessarily better, especially in the last quarter of life.

Technology:  A body chemistry sensor called Lumee from Profusa constantly monitors localized tissue activity, specifically recording data on glucose and oxygen levels. Closely monitoring these metrics, could prevent diabetic patients who experience neuropathy from requiring amputations. Furthermore, as the technology becomes more advanced, the hope is that it will be able to detect if the body is out of homeostasis for any reason, with the intent of diagnosing other diseases at the onset.

Stakeholders: 

  1. Profusa
  2. Citizens of the world
  3. Medical community
  4. Governments that want to simultaneously improve public health and reduce medical costs

Implementation: I think a great way to kick this off would be to institute a pilot with diabetic patients who have a particularly difficult time managing their insulin and/or patients who are experiencing consistent complications with diabetic neuropathy. If successful health insurance companies could either subsidize the cost for patients, or incentivize hospitals and medical practices to offer the technology.

Article: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/profusa-unveils-first-biointegrated-sensors-for-long-term-continuous-monitoring-of-body-chemistry-300198349.html

Bioplastic Made of Shrimp Shells

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Problem: Plastics are incredibly bad for the environment, and are pretty much ubiquitous in our everyday lives. The majority of them don’t biodegrade and they often have harmful chemical byproducts (a part of the process of making them).

Tech/Solution: Bioplastics made of shrimp shells could provide an alternative to traditional plastic. They have natural chitin (insect cuticle), which provides the plastic with some of the flexibility and hardness that other bioplastics lack, “matching the strength of aluminum, with half the weight.” This could provide a cheap, eco-friendly alternative to many of the carbon-intensive plastics produced and thrown away each year.

Stakeholders: 

  1. Future Generations
  2. Global Citizens who constantly use and discard plastic products
  3. Industries that utilize plastic

Implementation: Governments could provide tax incentives to large, multinational corporations (Apple, Sony, etc.) to start pilots that utilize these bioplastics in place of ordinary plastics (where possible).

http://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/five-cutting-edge-architectural-materials-to-watch-in-2016_o

Precision Agriculture

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 6.06.21 PMProblem: Every year large amounts of water and fertilizer are wasted in the ag. sector, as farmers apply excess resources to their crops. If farmers had technology that would allow them to more granularly assess the health of specific areas of their field they could better predict where and when to add water and fertilizers, thus avoiding using excess product.

Technology: Precision agriculture technology informs farmers through the use of predictive analytics, where factors like weather, soil quality, and available farming tools are assessed to help farmers more precisely tend to their fields (http://www.research.ibm.com/articles/precision_agriculture.shtml)

Stakeholders:

  • Local governments – especially in areas that experience drought, and have strict water-usage requirements
  • Farmers (small and large scale) – this technology would help farmers maximize their yields, while optimizing their processes, which should eventually lower their bottom line (once the cost of technology is paid for)
  • World Citizens – As the population continues to grow, food insecurity will unfortunately become increasingly more relevant. Since yields will be maximized more citizens on a global scale are likely to be fed.

 

Implementation: Large-scale producers could invest in this technology. The World Bank could potentially provide this technology for farmers in developing nations. Domestically, perhaps we could start with the state of California, where the drought is having a severe impact on agricultural production. Either the Federal or local governments could provide funding to large scale farmers in CA so they can quickly utilize this tech.

 

Permeable Pavement

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1. Sustainability Problem

Excessive rain in urban environments can lead to overburdening of sewer infrastructure, and can also lead to excessive run-off caused erosion in rural areas. Increasing climate change-caused variability will likely increase the likelihood of flooding in certain areas in the future.

2. The Technology

Permeable pavements (anything from porous asphalts and concretes, to grass-like turfs) can help slow the rate of flood-caused water run-off, thus mitigating flooding and erosion. It can also help with groundwater recharge, as makes use of water that would normally end up becoming wastewater.

3. Stakeholders

  • Individuals/households downstream or low lying areas, from farmland that might use herbicides and pesticides on their crops.
  • Urban areas with old, overburdened drainage systems
  • Developers looking to break ground on new commercial and residential projects
  • State and local municipalities that are worried about increased flooding in future decades

4. Implementation

Developers could seek incentives for utilizing this technology in future projects. City governments could also partner with companies that develop this technology to conduct more robust research to get a better sense of how large-scale implementation will positively effect flooding within a specific area or region.

Articles: 

Permeable Pavement

http://inhabitat.com/chicago-unveils-the-greenest-street-in-america-with-permeable-smog-eating-pavement/

A More Sustainable Shower

Sustainability Problem: Showering accounts for nearly 30% of all household water consumption. Access to clean water is an ongoing problem in the developing world, and is something that citizens in wealthier, developed countries take for granted. According to the OECD, global water demand will increase by 55% by 2050, which is a terrifying reality considering the fact that global water stress is expected to double by then. Considering these projections, it is imperative that we begin utilizing technologies that promote more sustainable water usage and consumption.

The Technology: Orbital Systems is a Swedish company that manufactures and installs water recycling systems, which continuously purifies and recycles the water used, for the duration of a shower. The technology also has an integrated testing system that monitors the water quality during the shower. According to their Website, the system uses only 10% of the water, and 20% of the energy that a traditional shower uses, which extends the benefits of the technology beyond saving water. Running a standard shower for 10 minutes typically uses around 40 gallons of water, where the Orbital Systems shower only uses 1.3 gallons. Once the individual has completed his/her shower, the system flushes out the recycled water, so that the next showerer will not bathe in someone else’s water.

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Stakeholders: Some of the stakeholders here could be:

  1. Energy companies
  2. Water companies
  3. Urban Municipalities
    1. For the purpose of imposing water regulations on new/retrofitted buildings
  4. Building Developers
  5. Landlords/Property Owners (especially those who cover the water bill)
  6. Hospitality Industry
    1. Hotel Chains
    2. Restautants (perhaps if the technology can be one day modified for sinks)

Process For Implementation: Ideally, either a hotel chain or large scale commercial developer would partner with the company to install these systems in either a section of an existing hotel or residential building. Perhaps some ways to make this happen would be:

  1. Conduct a CBA or feasibility analysis that shows how much energy, water, and money could be saved from aggregate system installations (i.e. 100, 1,000, 100,000).
  2. Propose policy that provides supplements or monetary incentivies for hotels or commercial developers to install this technology.
  3. Monitor the feedback/data to capture technologies successes for the purpose of advertising it/creating buzz.

http://www.gizmag.com/orbital-systems-water-saving-shower/29820/