Turning Smog into Diamonds

Screen Shot 2017-11-24 at 11.52.05Sustainability issue: Energy, Emissions, Health

Beijing has a major air pollution problem due to the intense industrial activities that rely on the burning of coal. These emissions lead to a perpetual smog problem (32% of smog is carbon) and lead to thousands of premature deaths every year.


  • The Smoke Free Project was founded by Dutch designer, Daan Roosegarde. The project includes two phases.
  • The first was to build a 7-meter tower that sucks in polluted air like smog and cleans it at a nano-level. More specifically, the tower uses carbon from smog particle and cleans this air before releasing it back out clean. Already installed in various parts of Beijing, the technology has proved to make the air in those areas 70-75% cleaner.
  • The second is for the tower to capture smog and transform it into diamonds. Under 30 minutes of pressure, the air can be compressed into diamonds. The diamonds would be sold to support the development and buildin gof more Smoke Free towers.

Article title: Why turning China’s smog into Diamonds isn’t as crazy as it sounds
Website name: We Forum
Article Link: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/06/why-turning-smog-into-diamonds-isn-t-as-crazy-as-it-sounds/


  • Beijing city government
  • National government
  • Smoke Free Project
  • Citizens


  1. Attract investors to raise funds to further research and development of the technology to lower its costs and improve the efficiency.
  2. Deploy in more parts of Beijing and begin extending to other Chinese cities.
  3. Begin targeting other extremely polluted cities in India and Indonesia.



Cyanobacteria: The Future of Carbon Capture Utilization?

22853137_646817742372381_8774746920097135614_nSustainability issue: Energy, Waste

Many cities have industrial hubs that generate significant CO2 emissions and pollute the urban environment. As we know, these CO2 emissions also contribute to climate change. Finding a sink for these emissions is extremely important for cities to address climate change and urban pollution.


  • Photosynthetic Magic is a bacterial cell factory project that aims to leverage biotechnology to capture, store and re-use CO2 outputs. Cyanobacteria can take up CO2 from the atmosphere and directly convert it into useful products.
  • More specifically, the Photosynthetic Magic team genetically modifies the bacteria to make them produce a valuable compound called fumarate.
  • Fumarate can be used for numerous applications, including; a progenitor for biofuels, food additives and medicine.
  • The team includes six students from Amsterdam, who are overseen by two professors. They also receive IT support from a Syrian refugee that is developing their website.

Article title: Your pollutant is our resource
Website name: Amsterdam Smart City
Article Link: https://amsterdamsmartcity.com/projects/co2-in-the-city-your-pollutant-is-our-resource#about
Company website link: http://2017.igem.org/Team:Amsterdam/Project


  • Universities
  • City government
  • Industries
  • Biofuel users
  • Companies that use food additives
  • Pharmaceuticals


  1. Scale up the project by exploring its deployment and implementation in industry. In order to do this, the first step will be to establish partnerships around Amsterdam.
  2. Once partnerships are in place, quantify demand, production costs and design costs and begin deploying the technology.
  3. Work with other European innovation hubs and smart city programs to expand the deployment of the technology.

Small, affordable, smart multi-purpose units

KODA-by-Kodasema-14Sustainability issue: Energy, Waste

Increasingly populous cities around the world are facing a housing crisis: a shortage of affordable housing. Furthermore, as urban residents are increasingly mobile many find themselves moving to new areas. In doing so, they are forced to sell their houses/apartment and seek a new investment elsewhere. The process of building a house is costly, resource-intensive, lengthy and stressful for people that seek to relocate.


  • The KODA is a 30m2 unit with multiple uses that can be set up in unused central plots and developmental land with temporary building permits. The unit can be transformed into homes, offices, showrooms, shops, business hubs, community spaces or classrooms.
  • The compact unit has large glass panels in the front that are made of four-layers. Its walls are made of concrete-timber composite panels that are 7 inches thick. Yacht sails are fitted while casting the concrete to provide texture. All parts are pre-manufactured offsite and assembled once on site.
  • The units are fitted with SMART technology with climate control sensors for temperature and CO2 levels, digital door lock, built-in LED lighting as well as smart heating, cooling and power systems that are concealed within the walls. The roofs are fitted with solar panels which are expected to produce more energy than the unit consumes annually, even in places with little sun.
  • The home can be assembled in seven hours and disassembled in four hours. As such, the unit is mobile and can be re-assembled in new locations as desired by its owner. The parts are transported to the site with a trailer and then are assembled by crane.

Article title: Inside the new $133,000 tiny house that can be taken apart to move with its owners
Website name: Business Insider
Article Link: http://www.businessinsider.com/inside-koda-tiny-house-move-with-owners-2016-10
Company website link: http://www.kodasema.com/#contact


  • Kodasema (company that makes KODA)
  • Retailers/companies
  • Residents
  • Schools
  • City government


  • Set up partnerships with retailers, hotels and schools to roll-out and scale up KODA nationally (in Estonia). Once costs are driven down by increasing demand, invest in more factory capacity and begin to establish partnerships in EU.
  • Seek ways to market the KODA living model to household residents that seek an affordable, smart and eco-friendly housing.
  • Partner with cities that wish to build community spaces (or other engaging cultural spaces) in vacant plots of the city.

Smart Kitchen Garden

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 07.52.27Sustainability issue: Health, Energy, Water

Global population is increasing, with more people moving to cities and more consumerism overall. This has grown demand for food, which in turn has led to the use of pesticides and other technologies to maximize yields. The impacts of this are tremendous on human health, leading to cancers and other diseases. Furthermore, food demands across the world are increasingly supplied from all corners of the world. The global transport and trade of food is extremely inefficient and requires significant energy and water consumption.


  • Niwa is a high-tech indoor garden gadget that allows people to grow food form their own home. This addresses both the issue of pesticides and the issue of transporting crops across the world, which requires energy and water.
  • The device has a hydroponic base that use mineral solutions instead of soil. It allows you to plant and grow a small vegetable crop with the help of an integrated fan, lights and sprinklers.
  • The only manual requirement is for the person to choose which seed to “plant” and then drop them into the base. The rest of the “growing” process fully automated as sensors allow regulation of the humidity and temperature to foster perfect growing conditions.

Article title: The Kitchen Garden Goes High Tech
Website name: NY Times
Article Link: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/19/the-kitchen-garden-goes-high-tech/
Company website link: http://getniwa.com


  • Citizens/residences
  • Niwa company
  • Farmers
  • Supermarkets/food retailers


  • Technology launched through a Kickstarter campaign but is not ready yet to be shipped. However, it can already be pre-ordered. More funds should be collected by pitching to investors to ensure that it can be commercial soon.
  • In the meantime, those funds should also be allocated to enhancing the marketing of the product through social media and advertisements in cities (e.g. subways). Should pay health-conscious celebrities who can endorse the products.
  • Begin shipping the product to those who have preordered, open the online store and find retailers to sell to.

Underground Electric Tunnels

the-boring-company-1-980x420Sustainability issue: Energy,health

Traffic congestion results in significant air pollution in cities around the world. A study by Harvard, found that traffic congestion in 83 of the nation’s largest urban areas contributes to more than 2,200 premature deaths annually and costs the health system at least $18 billion. Congestion also causes noise pollution, economic losses due to unproductive time, unhappiness and increases fuel demand.


  • The Boring Company, founded by Elon Musk, is an underground tunnel concept that would alleviate traffic congestion.
  • The technology involves digging tunnels that are less than 14 feet underneath cities (starting in California).
  • Vehicles on overground roads would drive up to an elevator station and slide into a stabilized electric skate (a flat plate on wheels propelled by an electric motor).
  • Once fixed on this electric skate the elevator would bring the vehicle down and the vehicle would be propelled through the tunnel (similar to a train). The controlled autonomous skate would allow vehicles to travel up to 125 miles per hour in urban areas and eliminates possibilities of human error or swerving.
  • According to the company, the electric component of the skate would result in zero-emissions. Therefore, for every mile the skate transports a gas-burning vehicle, it becomes a zero-emission mile. However, this is only fully valid if the power comes from renewables.

Article title: Elon Musk Says Elevator to Underground Tunnel Should be Functional Next Week
Website name: Forbes
Company website: https://www.boringcompany.com/
Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lianeyvkoff/2017/06/30/elon-musk-says-elevator-to-underground-tunnel-should-be-functional-next-week/#115d85a97f7a


  • Elon Musk
  • The Boring Company
  • Cities
  • Residents


  1. Tunnels are currently incredibly expensive to dig. Creating an underground network of them below cities would be extortionately expensive. The first step is therefore to get investors onboard for the research and development of tunneling.
  2. Tunneling costs will need to be improved through the boring machine equipment by automating the process, increasing the power output and making it electric.
  3. Begin rolling out as a pilot program in a city in California, where the R&D and current tests are happening. Then, roll out gradually to cities that experience severe traffic congestion.

Automated Underground Bike Storage Technology

Giken-Eco-Cycle-Underground-Bike-Park-1.jpgSustainability issue: Energy, Safety & Health

Air pollution in cities results in thousands of premature deaths annually. Vehicles have a large role to play in air pollution levels. In addition to impacting human life span directly, vehicle emissions also contribute to climate change. From both a health and environmental perspective, biking is one of the simplest and most sustainable forms of transportation. Cities around the world are increasingly incentivizing the use of biking, yet in some places, residents feel discouraged by the insufficient of infrastructure and space for parking bikes. For instance, many receive fines for “illegally” parking bikes or do not feel comfortable leaving their bike in a public space due to theft or vandalism. Bicycles can also spoil surrounding sights and bother emergency services, such as ambulances and fire fighters.


  • ECO Cycle is an underground automatic mechanical bicycle parking system that was created in Japan. The company now also produces mobile overground bike parking systems. Tokyo has numerous ECO cycle stations across cities which incentivizes commuters/residents to buy and use their bikes. In Tokyo, 14% of all journeys are made by bicycle, compared to 2% in London and 1% in New York.
  • The technology includes a small entrance booth with a dropping-off/retrieving system automated by computer control. Each bike is fitted with an IC tag which is scanned when the bicycle is presented at the booth. The bicycle then goes down a rotating column and is stored in an empty rack underground. Each bicycle-owner also receives an IC card that must be presented to retrieve the bike. Once the IC card is scanned, the system takes 13 seconds on average to retrieve a bicycle.
  • This technology saves space due to its compact design and can be used all over cities due to the small entrance booth design. The system is also anti-seismic.
  • This fully automated system also eliminates the risk of theft or vandalism as it is a protected and inaccessible underground system. It also protects the equipment from rain and other damaging weather.

Article title: Forget the bike locker, ECO Cycle stores your bike under the ground
Website name: City of Future
Link: http://www.cityoffuture.org/projects/mobility/eco-cycle/


  • Giken (parent company)
  • Residents/communities
  • Japanese city planners/government/council
  • Other cities
  • Large corporates


  • Company should seek to roll out this technology in other cities across the world by targeting bike-friendly cities. The first target city should be Amsterdam.
  • The company should promote the technology by showcasing its use and accomplishments in Japan. It should then develop partnerships with city government and planners, as well as a range of other stakeholders through the Amsterdam Smart City initiative.
  • The next step would be to target other bike-friendly European cities such as Stockholm and Copenhagen. It should also start dialogue with large corporates to establish their interest in having an on-site private access to the technology.

Closed Loop Shower Technology

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 08.31.14Sustainability issue: Waste & Energy

An average ten-minute in a conventional shower uses 20 gallons or 75 liters of water. Conventional showers are not designed to recycle and reuse water when in use. Yet, water is a finite resource; one that needs to be safeguarded. The equal distribution and provision of water in cities is an increasing concern for cities around the world. Using copious amounts of water in showers is especially problematic in water-scarce areas. Those who can afford to use a large percentage of the available water resources do so at the expense of those who cannot meet basic needs. Furthermore, showers require substantial energy – another issue facing growing cities.


  • Orbital Systems is a solution to the conventional shower problem highlighted above.
  • The technology is a closed loop shower that deliver up to 90% water and energy savings. The system releases approximately 5 liters of fresh water when the shower tap is turned on. This water is then recycled and reuse throughout the duration of the entire shower. According to the company this enables a guilt-free shower for as long as the person desires. Two minutes after the tap is turned off, the water used is released from the system. The following time the tap is turned on, a new 5 liters of fresh water will enter the system.
  • The technology also includes purification capsules which enable a filtration system. Therefore, as the OrbSy recycles the water, it filters contaminants in the water thereby increasing the quality and cleanliness.
  • The technology includes an integrated electric water heater.

Article title: The Tesla of Showers
Website name: Forbes
Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkanellos/2015/10/12/the-tesla-of-showers/#4bd86837bd12
Company website: https://orbital-systems.com


  • Orbital Systems company
  • Residential showers users
  • Commercial shower users
  • Governments

Deployment/Implementation Steps:

  1. Increase the budget to market and advertise the product in mainstream media channels.
  2. Develop one-on-one partnerships with key high-end/luxury chain commercial clients, such as spas and hotels. Once this is more established, target smaller commercial clients.
  3. Work with retailers to promote the product in stores that sell showers for residential users. Once well integrated into stores, conduct sales/discount on products to attract more customers.

Technology Enabling the Circular Use of Textiles

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 14.08.44
Sustainability issue:

According to Evrnu, it takes over 700 gallons of water to produce a cotton-shirt. A large problem in this water use is the amount of water needed to irrigate the crop. However, the manufacturing process also requires water. Rather than recycling these water-intensive textiles and developing a circular economy for textiles, much of it goes to waste. For example, the U.S. wastes 12 million tons of textile waste each year.

  • Evrnu has created a patent that takes old garments, shreds them, break down the molecules, and engineers a new fiber.
  • The fiber can be used to create new premium garments. In doing so, the technology would create a diversion in the supply and life cycle chain of textile garments.
  • Evrnu assumes that a typical life-cycle of the textile is as follows: farm ->yarn -> fabric -> dye -> cut & sew -> retailer -> customer -> landfill. Evrnu could work with large fashion retailers to ensure that they create a closed loop process.
  • At the end of the lifetime of a garment, any recuperated clothes could use the Evrnu technology to create new fiber turn it into yarn and recreate a new life cycle for the textile.

Article title: Evrnu Recycles Old Cotton Garments into New Fibers
Website name: Ecouterre
Link: http://www.ecouterre.com/evrnu-transforms-garment-waste-into-useable-bio-based-fibers/
Company website: https://www.evrnu.com


  • Evrnu company
  • Retail fashion companies and their suppliers
  • Society/communities
  • Governments
  • NGOs


  • To deploy the technology the patent first needs to be secured.
  • Evrnu will then have to work with big fashion retailers (as well as smaller ones in the long-term) to help them achieve a circular business model.
  • While the technology seems sound, the largest barrier to achieving these circular business models are the customers themselves. Evrnu’s technology seeks to recycle and repurpose post-consumer cotton textile waste. However, this requires fashion retailers to incentive consumers to recycle their old garments in store rather than selling them, donating them, or throwing them in the landfill.


1. Sustainability issue: Energy
Meeting the growing energy demands of increasingly populous and digitalized cities in a clean way is challenging. The integration of renewable energy to power public lighting and digital infrastructure of cities is problematic due. For instance, the abundance of large buildings often creates solar panel inefficiency due to shading.

2.  Technology:
Pavegen is a tile that generates electricity from the kinetic energy produced from footfall (stepping on the tile). The technology has evolved to became a smart-flooring solution that not only generates electricity but also collects data. The following three components provide the type of multi-functionality that could accelerate the development of smart cities:

  • Floor:
    The tile can be integrated into indoor and outdoor environments. The surface of the tile comes in four types: smooth, rubber, resin and safety (non-slip). The tiles can even be fitted under astroturf to capture the energy from playing sports.
  • Energy:
    The company suggests power generated by the tile can be used in cities to provide lighting in public spaces by the footfall of visitors in the area. It can also be used to power interactive messages, billboards and signage. On a larger scale, lighting in buildings could potentially be powered by the technology.
  • Data:
    The tile has a data transmitter that would help track the movement and the number of people in certain locations. With the help of an app, people that use (step) on Pavegen tiles could collect rewards or donate the equivalent to charitable causes. The tiles are also customizable to provide companies with the space to advertise their brand.

3. Stakeholders:

  • Pavegen company
  • City governments and urban planners
  • Brands/corporates or other commercial building users
  • Society/communities
  • Utilities

4. Deployment/Implementation:

  • Step 1: Attract more investors and increase advertising budget to spread awareness of the technology.
  • Step 2: Find five corporates or other organizations to pilot the technology in their operations (to power lighting in small stores or corporate buildings) and ensure enough press attention is drawn to those projects.
  • Step 3: Work with city government and urban planner to facilitate their integration in public spaces.