Fire brick Resistance-heated Energy Storage

Firebricks offer low-cost storage for carbon-free energy

Sustainable Issue: Energy storage/Efficiency

Technology: Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have drawn from an ancient technology as their latest solution for enabling rapid expansion of wind, solar and nuclear power. Heat-storing firebricks could be used to level electricity prices for renewables.


The researchers’ idea is to make use of excess electricity produced when demand is low — for example, from wind farms when strong winds are blowing at night — by using electric resistance heaters, which convert electricity into heat. These devices would use the excess electricity to heat up a large mass of firebricks, which can retain the heat for long periods if they are enclosed in an insulated casing. Later, the heat could be used directly for industrial processes, or it could feed generators that convert it back to electricity when the power is needed. The potential usefulness of FIRES is a new phenomenon has brought about by the rapid rise of intermittent renewable energy sources, and the peculiarities of the way electricity prices are set.


The firebrick, insulation, and other storage components are like high-temperature firebrick industrial recuperates. The ceramic firebrick is used because of its low cost and durability, while also having large sensible heat storage capabilities. If one allows a 1000 °C temperature range from cold to hot temperature, the heat storage capacity is ∼0.5–1 MWh/m3. Storage capacity of FIRES is governed by the sensible heat capable of being stored in a volume of material over a chosen temperature range (minimum and maximum temperatures). The chosen temperature range and material will be determined by the needs of the industrial process. More firebrick will store more energy.

Stake Holders:

  • Manufacturing units
  • Public/ Government body
  • Commercial building users
  • Utilities
  • Communities

Deployment / Implementation:

Step one: Showcase the reliability of the technology to the public and private entities. Attract more investors and spread awareness about the usage to this technology.

Step two: Set up some full-scale prototype units to prove the principles in real-world conditions.

Step three: Find companies that could use this technology in their buildings to demonstrate the efficiency of the technology.


UNI: SN2754


Reducing the electrical load in NYCHA buildings

Sustainability Problem: Energy

The New York City Housing Authority pays resident’s utility bills in 27 developments, a total of 166,952 units and 1,979 buildings, which add up to $180 million yearly. Demand has been the main driver of the utility cost increase witnessed by NYCHA in the past year, with consumption remaining stable. The authority faces many deep challenges, including increasing maintenance demands, declining funding, and aging housing stock, which make extensive energy retrofits difficult to fund. In this context, NYCHA would like solutions to manage electricity demand and in turn reduce electricity costs without having to replace building systems entirely.

 Technology: Smart sensors on window-mounted air-conditioning units

  • To cut down on usage, H.T. Lyons and Consolidated Energy Design proposed installing sensors that regulate the air-conditioning compressor during peak energy usage, when watts are more expensive, while keeping the unit on and residents comfortable.
  • The companies estimate that this technology can reduce energy demand of air conditioners by 40 to 60 percent when demand is highest.


  • NYCHA and its residents
  • Utility company
  • Local government
  • T. Lyons and Consolidated Energy Design


  • NYCHA is currently working with H.T. Lyons and Consolidated Energy Design to implement their solution as a small-scale pilot projects that will range from 3 months to 1 year
  • The companies will install the solution at their own expense to demonstrate the benefits of the solution
  • At the end of the pilot, the Authority will evaluate the impact of the technology and, if successful, it may be applied NYCHA-wide


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Tech helping to reduce manure odors from Swine Industry is creating Circular Economies.

Sustainability Problem: People surrounding swine industries have lived for many years under the externalities of odors and water contamination because of the bad practices in manure treatment.

pigpicEach “pound” or “kilogram” of manure coming from pigs or cows has an interesting potential to generate energy for lighting, transporting, and heating/cooling. In the City of Santiago (Chile), 1,6 million of swines live in factories for supplying meat for the country as well as for exporting. The 1,600,000 swines, considering sizes and manure production, were estimated as an equivalent 16 MW of energy generation, considering 9 MW for thermal energy (heat), and 7 MW of electricity generation. Today, the swine industry understood that revenues coming from energy sales are extremely relevant to their business models, therefore, instead of expending money in manure treatment, they started to install “biodigester + Generators”. However, one big concern came up, there was a byproduct called “digestate”.  The digestate is a highly nutritive product for agriculture. If well managed, it can be used as a fertilizer. Bang! Now the swine industry, after many years, realized that all the externalities (odors) created to people living around the swine industry, can be turned into an opportunity.


The model of the circular economy can be summarized as follows. First, the swine industry sale meat. In addition, they take the manure and put it in the biodigesters, which generate electricity and heat (a new revenue), but also create digestate.

The digestate is treated and then provided (sometimes for free) for farmers cooperative in the area as a fertilizer. The farmers install pipelines to transport the digestate (sometimes swine industry contribute in the investment), and farmers production improve considerably because of the “natural” fertilizer. In conclusion, farmers reduce cost by not buying fertilizer and also increase revenues by creating additional value for their products.PBPO 2006 The benefits of agricultural small-scale biogas plants

3 steps for deploying the technology.
1.- Estimate energy potential identify the stakeholders involved in the ecosystem of the swine industry.
2.- Explains the benefit of using a biodigestor and a fertilizer pipeline. COnvince a venture capital or an investment fund to cover your expenses! Today the energy business in Latin America is pretty reliable!
3.- Install the technology, bring some cool operator from Europe or train people from your country, and start producing energy, reducing cost, providing fertilizer to farmers, and creating a cleaner city for all the neighborhood around the industry!



By Gabriel Guggisberg (gg2642) Week 2.

Sustainability problem: Deforestation

Technology to prevent it : Google Forest Watch 2.0

-Interactive, real-time, forest monitoring system.

-Uses satellite technology, data sharing and human networks around the world to provide information for the better management of forests.

-Aims to address the problem by providing a better alternatives to the technologies for monitoring that exist today that are not the best as they are not real-time.

Organizational stake-holders:

-Governments of several countries: the article mentions the Brazilian and Gabonese governments, for example, who are investing millions of dollars into monitoring their forests.

3 steps to deploy:

-Create a youtube video that showcases the machine’s capabilities

-Calculate how much deforestation can be slowed through monitoring to gain credibility

-Propose the solution to the governments that need it most


Using New Technology on Diesel Burn to Improve Air Quality


Area of sustainability category: Air Pollution

The air pollution is a severe problem for many countries including both developing and developed ones. It is worth noting that diesel emission is one of the main causes of air pollution in urban areas. Typically, in London, people have started taking actions and citizens want to change the current situation so bad that over 29 million people have signed for an action on diesel emissions in urban centers where have the highest car concentration.



“New Technologies Which Could Improve Urban Air Quality”, website: Policy Exchange,

  • The ezero1 technology can improve the fuel combustion cycle by adding additives
  • Small amounts of hydrogen added into the vehicle air intake can provide a more efficient burn of fuel
  • This technology can be applied on existing cars and vans
  • This technology is produced by UK developer CGON and is available commercially



  • Private car driver who wants to reduce carbon footprint and enhance fuel efficiency
  • Tourism companies such as car rental company, bus companies etc. which want to save fuel bills to lower the operation costs
  • Car manufacturers who want to enhance engine performance and provide a more sustainable car model
  • Municipalities which want to change current sever air pollution problems



  1. The company may conduct an analysis to find where car owners are huge and people’s awareness of air pollution is high. Thus, CGON may find the best target for launching this product in the early stage.
  2. To further attract potential clients, CGON should proactively seek opportunities of attending Auto show, air pollution or energy-related conference to increase people’s awareness of this technology
  3. CGON may also seek for partnership with city governments and tourism companies. For example, CGON can take part in government’s environmental enhancement projects. CGON can offer discount and free installation if large volume orders are placed.



People & Civic Tech in NYC.

Sustainability Issue.

People living in Manhattan now have access to public wi-fi through LINK-NYC. In addition, people living in big cities can observe how solar tech is used for multi-purposes and at different scales. However, most of the population have neither access to tech solutions, nor proximity to deployable technologies to solve day-to-day problems.

In 2017, after many weeks of civic engagement activities, starting by training sessions about tech opportunities, building advisory teams, and figuring out potential economics improvement by using Tech, the program Neighborhood Innovation Lab (NIL) was launched in Brownsville, NY. NIL seeks to enhance economic development through technology, but it also compromises the deployment of two civic technologies during the implementation of the strategy.

Osborn Plaza, Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York.


Solutions deployed

Technology Objective: Show how the technology can be part of our daily routine, as well as to familiarize people to new devices using internet of things (IOT).
Bigbelly solar-powered smart waste and recycling system, which can hold up to five times the amount of a regular trash bin and uses sensors to notify maintenance crews when it is full.
Soofa smart benches, which use solar power to offer free charging for mobile devices.
Big Belly (right), Soofa Smart Bench (left)

Where and How?
Big belly could be a potential solution to remote or public areas, while the Soofa Smart bench, can be deployed at any plaza if a cost-benefit analysis supports the investment. Most of the tech solutions for civic engagement require the use of the internet, for example, big-belly to report full capacity.  Therefore, sites, where Link NYC is already installed, are potential areas to take advantage of the use of public wi-fi.

Steps for Implementation.
1.- Mapping areas where tech could create a new economic development opportunity. Create a tech strategy, invite partners, create an advisory team, and get support from the Mayor´s office of Tech + Innovation.
2.- Solve people, SME´s, and other´s problems, if possible, by implementing tech solutions.
3.-Deploy civic tech in the area to create engagement in the civil society.

Neighborhood Innovation Lab.
Waste Management Solution.
Smart Solar Bench.

by, Gabriel Guggisberg (gg2642)

The great pacific garbage patch

Sustainability issue:  The great pacific garbage patch is a water and waste pollution issue. This patch of marine debris located in the pacific ocean has been stuck there for years due to the pacific vortex which keeps it circling the waters

  • Instead of chasing after the waste, the “Ocean CleanUp” will instead deploy barriers that use the same water currents that makes the waste stuck in place, to collect that same exact waste.
  • Sea life will not be impacted as only lighter than water plastic objects will get caught in the net.
  • Over 10 years, these nets can clean up half of this waste.

Organizational stakeholders: International Coastal Cleanup, Trash Free Seas, Greenpeace International

3 steps to deploy technology: – Introducing the idea to the organizational stakeholders who can fund it, soliciting help and materials from individuals if this is to be done from volunteer work (already being done), sensitizing populations so they are more willing to help when it comes to waters that we all share and that do not affect their immediate lives.