Waste, Water, and Wind

1) Sustainability Problem

Waste: Ocean waste is an ever-worsening problem, and since many plastic wastes do not decompose, we need to extract the trash in order to effectively mitigate the solution. This has to happen in parallel with waste reduction efforts in order to holistically address the pollution of our oceans.

2) Technology Solution

This solution can collect 3 tons of waste per hour, and is primarily self sufficient by using wind and solar energy. They believe that “400 vessels could eventually remove 33% of the world’s ocean plastic pollution”. While crew members sort the waste on board and much of it is retained to later discard, certain plastics are also ground down and incinerated to be used as a fuel for the ship – removing waste and powering the vessel for ongoing waste removal.

3) Stakeholders

A number of stakeholders will need to be engaged to drive this project forward:

  1. Engineering and investment stakeholders
  2. Environmental groups
  3. Waste facilities
  4. Coast Guard

4) Implementation

In order to roll out the program to convert urban orange waste into electricity one would need to:

  1. Conduct research to understand the highest concentrations of waste
  2. Work with engineering, investors, etc. to develop a working model of the boat
  3. Coordinate with Coast Guard to arrange tests and operations and ensure they feel the endeavor is safe

Sources

  1. https://www.intelligentliving.co/manta-ocean-cleaning-yacht/

Public PV Pathway

1) Sustainability Problem

Energy: Urban energy consumption is a major contributor to global emissions, and so cities need to convert more of their energy grid over to renewable sources. Additionally, the transportation sector is also one of the largest contributors to emissions. Cities need to find more renewable energy sources for their grid overall and incentivize alternative forms of transportation other than cars.

2) Technology Solution

The development of a bike path covered by solar panels offers myriad benefits to cyclists. On the energy side, the PV panels offer lighting at night, can supply charging stations for e-bikes or other devices, and then can provide excess clean energy to the grid. For cyclists and pedestrians, this can provide them additional designated pathways with which to travel in a carbon neutral way, provides coverage in inclement weather, and the lighting can help with safety concerns for night travel. Overall, this is a really innovative approach to building on top of existing infrastructure in a way that offers many additional benefits.

3) Stakeholders

A number of stakeholders will need to be engaged to drive this project forward:

  1. City governance
  2. Transportation groups
  3. Cyclists
  4. Grid oversight

4) Implementation

In order to roll out this program one would need to:

  1. Campaign the project to understand demand and ideal locations
  2. Align with stakeholders on the location, budget, alternative paths during construction periods, and supplemental amenities and their required infrastructure (charging stations, etc.)
  3. Work with the city and construction companies to build the bike path (if it is a net new path) and the technology above it

Sources

  1. https://www.intelligentliving.co/solar-veloroute-illuminated-bike-pathway-generates-energy/

Plastic Propellants for Planes

1) Sustainability Problem

Energy and Waste: Airplane fuel consumption is one of the greatest contributors to emissions in the transportation industry, and so finding alternatives to fossil fuel jet fuel is important to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Using plastic in order to do so compounds the benefits by also eliminating waste that would have otherwise filled up landfills or our oceans, and would not otherwise degrade naturally.

2) Technology Solution

Researchers at the Washington State University developed a process to convert polyethylene into jet fuel. While other scientists have accomplished similar feats, these researchers were able to do so via a process that is quicker and at a lower temperature, thereby significantly increasing the efficiency. As this is the most commonly used plastic – “found in about a third of all plastics produced, and has a global value of about $200 billion (£142 billion) annually” – this advancement has exciting potential to make a significant contribution to diverting waste from landfills and creating economic value from a currently untapped supply.

3) Stakeholders

A number of stakeholders will need to be engaged to drive this project forward:

  1. Scientists: The scientific community has played in an essential role in developing this process, and now must focus on scaling it and iterating on it.
  2. Production Plants: Production plants must be developed or converted to facilitate the scaling of this production process.
  3. Airline Industry: The airline industry is an essential stakeholder to these efforts and must prioritize the conversion to these alternative fuels, which may require them to be involved in the iteration process as the fuel is tested and implemented.
  4. Governance: As we expand the variety of jet fuels available to the industry, governments need to play a role in incentivizing the use of these alternative fuels while also ensuring their quality and safety.

4) Implementation

In order to roll out the program to convert plastics into jet fuel one would need to:

  1. Expand production process and facilities from testing to large-scale facilities
  2. Coordinate with suppliers, ideally recycling collection sites, to source high volumes of polyethylene plastics
  3. Collaborate with airline companies to test and implement usage of the new jet fuel

Sources

  1. https://todayuknews.com/science/scientists-convert-waste-plastics-into-jet-fuel-in-less-than-an-hour/
  2. For refueling image: https://theconversation.com/jet-fuel-from-sugarcane-its-not-a-flight-of-fancy-84493

Citrus City Electricity

1) Sustainability Problem

Energy: Urban energy consumption is a major contributor to global emissions, and so cities need to convert more of their energy grid over to renewable sources. While many renewable energy sources have inherent variability that limits grids’ ability to rely on them, energy from biomass offers some of the consistency strengths of fossil fuels that can help improve cities’ renewable energy portfolio while mitigating the reliability issues. Additionally, organic waste that would otherwise contribute to landfills could be used to reduce cities’ reliance on fossil fuels.

2) Technology Solution

Seville is using the orange waste from their iconic and plentiful orange trees to generate electricity in select water purification plants, with intentions to expand and give surplus electricity back to the grid. Initial studies found that 1,000kg of oranges could translate to 50 kWh, which could power five homes for a day. This is a really compelling opportunity to create value from waste while also reducing the city’s reliance on fossil fuels. Designing this energy source around a local resource also enables greater self-sufficiency in the city’s energy supply.

3) Stakeholders

A number of stakeholders will need to be engaged to drive this project forward:

  1. City Council: the city council oversees the waste collection of the oranges, and so would need to transition the process from disposal to utilization
  2. Purification Plant: currently, efforts are being directed toward water purification plants, which “consume almost 40% of the energy needed to provide the city with drinking water and sanitation”; these plants need to be engaged to convert their energy production over to biomass
  3. Grid Oversight: with longer-term plans to provide electricity back to the grid, project managers need to work with the grid to make sure this is done in an efficient way that maximizes the mutual benefits of the energy producers and the grid as a whole

4) Implementation

In order to roll out the program to convert urban orange waste into electricity one would need to:

  1. Align with stakeholders on the alternative energy source, the new use of this waste, and what measures might need to be in place to mitigate any drawbacks or risks
  2. Work with purification plants to install facilities that can generate electricity from organic waste
  3. Transition the waste collection processes from disposing of the waste to transporting it to the relevant facilities

Sources

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/23/how-seville-is-turning-leftover-oranges-into-electricity
  2. https://www.haute-innovation.com/en/magazine/energy/electricity-from-oranges/

Solar Pumps for the Water Crisis

1) Sustainability Problem

Water: 785 million people globally do not have sufficient access to water, which restricts them in many areas of life from hydration to sanitation to cooking to agriculture. The estimated 200 million hours spent in collecting water disproportionately affects women and children. Reliable access to water is an essential predecessor to many other improvements in a community’s development and quality of life.1 Many existing water access solutions are costly, manual, and require significant maintenance.

2) Technology Solution

Pumpmakers develops low-maintenance, self-sufficient water pumps that run off of solar power to provide access to water in rural communities. These pumps are off-grid solutions that solve for many of the issues of existing wells, which often have manual pumps that incur maintenance and repair costs the Pumpmakers’ solution can avoid. However, this automatic pump does not incur many ongoing costs since it is powered by renewable energy and its use of durable, low maintenance materials. Then, by engineering it to be a relatively simple solution and then open-sourcing the designs into a “DIY” format, they have enabled greater affordability of the product. The pump can extract 18K liters per day running at 10 hours per day. Variations of the pump even convert it into “Life Station”, which can offer WiFi hotspots for Internet access and advertising placements to subsidize the cost.2

Pumpmakers’ solar-powered water pump2

3) Stakeholders

By enabling a virtual marketplace via the “Pumpmakers Platform”, the company is empowering local communities to more holistically own the water solution.3

  1. Suppliers: Pumpmaker has an online shop where people can purchase the assembly materials
  2. Planners: Governments, NGOs, or local companies can help determine the best locations for water pumps to ensure they are implemented in optimal locations.
  3. Assemblers: The DIY approach allows many stakeholders to serve this role, from NGOs to local companies to farmers and individuals.
  4. Users: The water pump can serve a wide array of people, either a local community more holistically or an individual farmer for irrigation.2

4) Implementation

By enabling a marketplace via their “Pumpmakers Platform”, the company is striving to outsource much of the actual pump implementation process.3 Establishing this platform likely required:

  1. Engineering the desired pump solution in a simplified way that enables easy assembly, and converting the specs into digestible instructions
  2. Building an online presence with instructions, an online store, and connections or resources for ongoing support
  3. Driving adoption among stakeholders with incentives, training, network connections, and so on

Once an individual stakeholders decides to install a Pumpmaker water pump and implement it in the local community, the process requires:

  1. Planning the location
  2. Acquiring the assembly instructions and necessary materials
  3. Assembling and installing the pump

Sources

  1. https://www.worldvision.org/clean-water-news-stories/global-water-crisis-facts
  2. https://pumpmakers.com/en
  3. https://omeganewsng.com/pumpmakers-launches-worlds-first-platform-for-diy-solar-pumps-in-africa/