How to improve New York’s Subway System? Simplify, simplify.

js5079 – Joshua Strake
Sustainability Topic: Waste (in terms of efficiency), Energy
Link: NYT

I like this article because it gets down to the basic principle of a ‘smart city’ – you use the measurable data of a city to identify where to make improvements, and you go out and make those improvements. You don’t need to improve the ridership of the MTA with some sort of cloud-based ridership benefits app that uses IoT technology to make your blender give you compliments each time you make a smoothie: you can simply fit more people on a subway by making more space. And to make more space you can remove seats. Summary below.

Summary

  • E trains had delay troubles, because of overcrowding on their trains. This manifested primarily in longer loading and unloading times at stations.
  • They determined they could ease the issue of overcrowding by removing some seats from certain E train cars.
    • The seats were removed from the door areas, so more people could fit as well as more easily enter and exit.
  • Each modified train has an increased capacity of around 100 riders.
  • Additional changes to the E line such as equipment replacements are also being accelerated to address the efficiency issues with the service.
  • A result of these changes is: the riders experience less delays, and more are served by the train.
    • Since time can be measured in terms of the opportunity cost of productivity, both of these changes should help the economy.
    • Since the train cars are moving more people per trip, they are increasing their energy efficiency.

Stakeholders:

The MTA

New Yorkers and visitors who use public transit

Businesses whose employees use public transit

Three Next Steps:

1 – Evaluate the impact of the changes. Is the issue of delays being addressed?

2 – Conduct an analysis of other train lines that have similar issues.

3 – Expand the seat removal pilot to these other lines.


Comment on another blog: “Larvae convert food waste”

A very neat idea – another impact the article discusses is that much of conventional fish feed comes from trawling the ocean, a habit that contributes to overfishing. These larvae would help mitigate that effect as well as the food waste.

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All-Electric Mining Truck produces more energy than it consumes via Regenerative Breaking

Source Article
Company website
js5079 – Joshua Strake

Sustainability Issue: Energy, Waste (of energy)

Kuhn&Komatsu have developed a massive new all-electric mining vehicle known as the “E-Dumper”. I liked reading about this vehicle because it represents such a simple yet effective idea: heavy thing going downhill can store its energy through breaking (two birds one stone), and use that energy to put the now-lighter truck back up the hill (three birds one stone!).

Summary

-Mining trucks historically are absolute monsters of fossil fuel usage. They need immense power to remove tons and tons of material from mines.

-Much of the time a truck full of materials is going downhill to drop off its load, and then goes back uphill much lighter to be refilled. This downhill phase is very brake-intensive, and the uphill phase is a breeze comparatively.

-This new all electric engine contains a massive battery that charges when the truck moves downhill. Instead of conventional braking, the force of the braking is used to charge a battery.

-With this energy-producing framework, trucks with routes like this (heavy downhill light uphill) can actually generate clean energy that they store per day, effectively using none at all. Of course in actuality one should also expect cases where a heavy truck drives uphill and a light truck goes downhill, like when leaving a quarry, but this doesn’t change the fact that in some mining scenarios this truck consumes no energy and actually produces it.

Stakeholders

Mining companies

Truck producers Kuhn & Komatsu

Battery Producers

Electric utilities receiving excess electricity from trucks

Three Steps

1 – Assess feasibility of wide production of these huge batteries / their lifespans (is it worth it?)

2 – Market the truck to other mining outfits

3 – Develop a framework for mass production if one is not already in place.

How Internet-of-Things technology can assist with Urban Rainfall and Stormwater Management Systems

Uni: js5079 (Joshua Strake)

Links: SGIM, SGIM 2Array of Things, Urban Flooding

Sustainability Problem(s): Water, Safety

A growing challenge as storms become more intensely localized and the adage ‘when it rains it pours’ becomes more literal is the issue of what to do with all that water in an urban space. In nature, the water is efficiently absorbed into soil and supports trees and other flora. However in a city, the lack of these trees and soil is felt in two ways: first, the rain water has nowhere to be absorbed into and can result in flooding and contamination of the city’s water supply, and second, all that water can cause serious damage to ‘gray’ infrastructure that isn’t designed to handle a sudden deluge – things like streets, drainage pipes, and sidewalks.

This is where Chicago’s new initiative, the ‘Smart Green Infrastructure Monitoring’ (SGIM) project steps in:

Summary of SGIM

  • Utilizing IoT technology, SGIM looks to track rainfall conditions on Chicago’s streets. In addition to total rain, it also tracks thinks like temperature, moisture, air pressure, and other weather indicators.
  • SGIM is in beta right now, being tested in three locations. It is being tested in conjunction with green infrastructure, such as plant banks, and porous water-absorbing roads.
  • The goal of the sensors would be to best understand where changes are needed in Chicago’s water management infrastructure – sensors don’t absorb water, but they help understand where the problems are and how much infrastructure change is needed.
  • Chicago actually has a strong record of utilizing IoT to make the city ‘smarter’, and SGIM falls within the logic of their larger city-wide ‘Array-of-Things’ plan for a smartly monitored city.

Stakeholders

1 – City Digital, developers of SGIM

2 – City of Chicago policymakers, specifically their wastewater treatment plan executors, and their Array-of-Things project leaders.

3 – Citizens of Chicago who’s businesses and homes would be affected by wastewater

4 – Green Infrastructure and SGIM sensor builders and installers.

Three Deployment Steps

First, continue with the testing phase and make sure the project is working as desired

Second, establish a broader installation plan with the office of the city of Chicago

Third, engage manufacturers, contractors, and wastewater managers to produce, install, and use the data.

Algae and its many uses – The Algae Dome

uni – js5079 (Joshua Strake)

Sustainability Area(s) – Energy, Waste
Specific Issues Addressed – CO2 in the atmosphere, Carbon footprint of food
Links: One, Two, Three

Overview

The Algae Dome represents one way to use algae to address the rising need to curb emissions of CO2, as well as the need to produce food at a low (or in this case zero) carbon cost to the planet. Whether or not the Algae Dome is scalable is another debate that I won’t speculate on, but this Algae Dome does successfully address certain sustainable goals while providing an eco-friendly outdoor space as well.

Summary

  • The Algae Dome is a closed-loop system of hundreds of meters of coiled tubing that contains micro-algae, developed by SPACE10 labs in Copenhagen.
  • Micro-algae grows off of the energy of sunlight, water, and CO2 – the result of this growth is additional micro-algae and Oxygen emitted as a byproduct.
  • Micro-algae itself contains more protein than meat as well as other nutrients, and considering the carbon cost of meat, this makes it an attractive potential substitute in cooking, should it prove to be easy to cook with and manipulate.
  • The micro-algae grows quickly, and due to the closed-loop nature of the system, the Algae Dome could succeed anywhere with sunlight and temperatures above freezing, making it a potentially wide-ranging sustainable option.

Stakeholders

1 – Space10, holders of the IP.

2 – Farmers and Food manufacturers who could adopt micro-algae.

3 – Governments and NGOs looking to use micro-algae to address hunger and CO2-emission reduction needs.

3 Steps for Further Implementation

1 – Discover if the tech is cost efficient and scalable. Is smoke being blown? How much?

2 – Develop contractor relationships to ramp up production

3 – Engage consumers who may be interested in the technology – green farmers, cities, food banks, etc.

Using photosynthesis to convert CO2 into ethanol and ethylene

https://phys.org/news/2017-09-solar-to-fuel-recycles-co2-ethanol-ethylene.html

UNI – js5079 (Joshua Strake)

Sustainability Problems: Energy + Waste

  • The new technology enables sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into usable forms of liquid fuels, such as ethanol and ethylene.
  • Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Berkeley Labs developed the technology, which has reached efficiencies as high as 5%, reducing CO2 to a hydrocarbon end product over a certain amount of sun-time.
  • The technology can also function in low-light settings, although the main interest in this case would be the reduction of CO2 and the ability to use Solar-powered fuels at any time of the day, so whether o not the technology works at night isn’t as relevant, since the byproduct of the technology (the fuel) can be used at night. THis helps solve the issues must-take forms of energy face.
  • The main science behinf the technology is a “copper-silver nanocoral cathode” which breaks the CO2 down, and “an iridium oxide nanotube anode, which oxidizes the water and creates oxygen”.

3. Organizational Stakeholders: Scientists at Berkeley, Developers/Manufactuers, the Government (DoE project).

4. Three potential steps to roll out:

1 – Get better at it. (Achieve higher efficiency, optimize build and design)

2 – Standardize a means of production at large scales

3 – Engage utilities and contract developers to begin working the technology into the energy industry.