Electricity-Free Water Treatment Plant

AguaClara14_460

Sustainability issue

Category: Water

According to the report from World Health Organization in 2017, 844 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 159 million people who are dependent on surface water. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces. By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. AguaClara is in the process of solving this challenge. It is a multi-disciplinary program at Cornell University that has designed sustainable water treatment systems committed to long-term environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Technology solution

  • Their plants are cheaper and more reliable for communities by using gravity and mechanical device to operate since it is electricity-free.
  • Communities avoid risks of failure or shut-down that plague projects dependent upon the proprietary expertise and applies.
  • Their plants are specifically designed to be constructed using materials and labor that are able to be locally-sourced.
  • To date, AguaClara has assisted in the design of 13 plants in Honduras and 4 village water treatment facilities in India.
  • So far, water treatment plants built using AguaClara technologies provide clean water to more than 50,000 people.

Stakeholder

  • Residences who live in clean water shortage area
  • City planners and urban designer
  • Companies in renewable and sustainable water treatment field
  • Governmental department relate to environment

Implementation steps

Step 1: Build cooperation relationship with government and water management companies

Step 2: Set up pilot study at local communities to show the effectiveness of the technology

Step 3: Monitor the plant together with the locals and adjust the working parameters

Source

http://aguaclara.cornell.edu/ 

Comment on Another Blog Post

Post: Can air pollution be controlled by drones?

Comment: When I check the source of the article, I find out that it is from 2014. And I think there are better ways to solve the air pollution issue in China now. At the presents, they are reducing the use of coal and trying to replace it with clean energy. And they are restricting the number of vehicles on the road each day.

 

UNI – wy2283

 

 

 

 

Efficient Data Center HVAC

The Problem

Data centers consume a huge amount of energy and that number is increasing due to the increased production of data centers. A main component in the use of electricity is heat rejection. Typically, CRAC units are installed in the servers to reject heat to an chilled water loop. The problem is through redesign of data centers and different aging of equipment, the design might not be optimal for real world applications and heat rejection may not be occurring optimally.

The Solution

Vigilent utilizes artificial intelligence to optimally control the CRAC units to provide cooling to the space.  It automatically identifies hot spots in the server rooms and adjust the CRAC unit output accordingly to effectively eliminate the hot spot. Power is monitored for Measurement and Verification purposes and as a way to monitor the hot spots in the rooms.

Stakeholders

  • Building owners
  • Building operators
  • Management companies
  • Control Companies
  • Utility Companies

Deployment

Work with existing control companies and to install at their customer sites and integrate into the existing controls. Get rebates from the utilities.

Company Website

Vigilent

Solar Technology to Illuminate the World’s First Underground Park

Screenshot 2017-11-29 22.24.47Sustainability Problem: Urban Greening

While urban green space is important for people’s health and well-being, it is getting harder to come by with rising real estate prices and development.

Sustainability Technology: Solar Reflectors

Idled underground space can be transformed to public parks by creative solar technology. The Lowline in the Lower East Side of New York City will be the world’s first underground park with “remote skylight”.

  • The 60,000 square feet space will be illuminated by an innovative solar technology: above ground, parabolic collector are set up to reflect and gather sunlight at one focal point; the sunlight is then transmitted to a reflective surface on the distributor dish underground through an intricate system of mirrors and tubes.
  • The technology will transmit the necessary wavelengths of light to support photosynthesis, enabling plants and trees to grow. There are already 50 species of plants growing in the park.
  • The solar reflectors on the roof will track the sun all day and electricity is not needed when sunlight is available.

Organizational Stakeholders that Will Use the Technology:

  • City Department of Design and Construction
  • Businesses and residents in the community
  • General public and community organizations

First 3 Steps in Deploying the Technology:

  1. Procure underground sites with potentials and benefits of urban greening.
  2. Set up model lab as proof of concept of the technology to convince and educate stakeholders.
  3. Obtain supports from the city and local communities, both in terms of funding and permitting.

Sources:

The Lowline

Inside the Lowline: The Technology Behind NYC’s First Underground Park

Comment:

The TZOA air quality monitor

Desalination 2.0

Water independence and source reliability is a very pressing issue that many communities are facing today. One of the many solutions that is being adopted today is to build desalination plants to turn sea water into drinkable water. However, building these plants and the process that is desalination can be very expensive. An average desalination plant can cost up to a billion dollars.

A new technology that could ensure cheaper desalination would be Advanced Water Recovery.

-Uses chemicals to turn salt water into drinking water and then, through proprietary process, filters the chemicals back out.

-Costs 70% less than current technologies used for desalination

-A demonstration plant is currently being built in Pennsylvania, cleaning the water used in the fracking process.

Organizational stakeholders that would need this technology would be American states that are looking to become water independent, such as California that is currently looking to build a second desalination plant, that would cost the state millions. The upcoming plant has caused a debate over the real need for such expensive technology for water production.

To deploy the technology, the firm would list and present the advantages this technology has over traditional  desalination plants (safer for marine life, cheaper), to the state government and officials who would authorize this technology to be widely used. Once their demonstration plant is complete, these officials will be able to see and experience first hand what they could be enjoying in their own state.

Link: http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/02/technology/water-cleaning-technology/index.html

Link to comment: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/27/light-manipulating-algae-could-boost-solar-power-technology/comment-page-1/#comment-1518

Smog and Los Angeles

  1. In the last two years, the amount of days where ozone levels have exceeded federal standards is increasing. From 113 days in 2015, to 130 in 2016, and 145 in 2017. Los Angeles already claims some of the worst air quality in the United States, and with the threat of a gradually warming planet, the presence of ozone will only increase. One of the most impactful actions in decreasing ozone would be to minimize emissions from diesel engines, in short, taking diesel trucks of the road and replacing with trucks that use natural gas or electricity. While folks like Elon Musk work on making electric trucks a commercial reality, greater efforts need to be made in incentivizing gas engines over diesel.
  2. When it comes to a city like Los Angeles, the activity of the port and commercial transport on diesel trucks are large targets for emissions reductions. This involves local business and trade departments, automakers, distribution companies, and perhaps a Sustainability and/or Mayor’s Office.
  3. The first step would be to halt the future production of diesel trucks. Local governments could also decrease sales tax on trucks using natural gas or alternative energy, and increase sales tax on the sale of diesel trucks. And the same for the sale of diesel versus natural gas at the pump. Like Paris, LA could prevent trucks with diesel engines from entering city limits, or the ports (by a sort of labeling system).

Southern California smog worsens for second straight year despite reduced emissions

L.A., Long Beach ports adopt plan to slash air pollution and go zero-emissions

The death of diesel: has the one-time wonder fuel become the new asbestos?

Raising the Gas Tax Is No Longer Taboo In Many States

Light-manipulating algae could boost solar power technology

 

Diatoms-Solar-Cell-1020x610

Sustainability Problem: Energy

Sustainability Technology:

A study done by a research team from Yale, Princeton, and Lincoln University have discovered that diatoms, single-celled alga with silica walls, can be used to boost the efficiency of solar cells.

The single-celled organism can be found easily in nature, thus making it inexpensive to acquire.

This system is cost-effective by replacing the conventional solar cells.

The diatoms are placed in an organic solar cells’ active layer,

Stakeholders:

Investors

Scientists/ researchers/ engineers

Solar Panel Companies

Deployment of the technology:

1. Finalize the thickness of algae to place in the solar cells’ active layer

2. Research opportunities for using different types of algae

3. Reach out to solar panel companies

 

Source: https://inhabitat.com/light-manipulating-algae-could-boost-solar-power-technology/

mk3263

Fisker patents EV battery with a range of 500 miles that can be charged in 1 minute!

Fisker 1

Sustainable Problem: Energy

Technology:

  • Fisker reportedly made a breakthrough in solid-state batteries – and their technology could allow an EV to travel 500 miles after a single charge.
  • The company has filed a patent for a groundbreaking solid-state battery.
  • Green Car Congress reports that the patent includes claims about manufacturing processes and novel materials, saying, “Fisker’s solid-state batteries will feature three-dimensional electrodes with 2.5 times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries.” Recharging such a battery, they pointed out, would take less time than filling up a tank of gas today.

Here’s a representation of the three-dimensional electrodes:

fisker 2

Stakeholders:

  • Fisker
  • Fabio Albano, co-founder of Sakti3 and Fisker’s vice president of battery systems.

Deployment/Implementation:

  • The project is years away from completion.
  • Deploy when figure logistics of implementation are figured out
  • For this particular technology, Fisker says that it will be automotive production grade ready around 2023.
  • In the meantime, Fisker plans to launch its Emotion electric car at CES 2018 in January 2018

Sources:

https://inhabitat.com/fisker-patents-ev-battery-with-a-range-of-500-miles-that-can-be-charged-in-1-minute/fisker-emotion/

https://electrek.co/2017/11/14/fisker-solid-state-battery-breakthrough-electric-cars/

Comments on Compostable Water Bottles by AA4098:

It is very impressive technology considering how slow plastic decomposes. According to the link, “PET plastic takes between 450 – 1000 years to decompose. Most PET bottles end up in a landfill, eventually contaminating lands and groundwater. William Horner, Founder and President of Totally Green Bottles & Caps, believes that the bottled water marketplace is long overdue for a 100% compostable bottle, cap, and label.” This would reduce a lot of waste that could take hundreds of years to decompose. I wonder if there would be any health effects from drinking water out of these bottles all the time.

UNI: AV2698

Can air pollution be controlled by drones?

1) Air pollution is referred to any contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment that modifies the characteristics of the atmosphere. Although more research is required to further understand the role poor air quality and multi-pollutant exposure plays in health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together, this r4epresents 11.6% of all global deaths.

Major sources of air pollution vary from country to country and in every city, depending on their infrastructure and industrial activities, but in general, common sources include motor vehicles, household combustion devices and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities.

Pollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. (EPA)

The most relevant issue in this problem is that once the pollution has been produced it is very difficult to clean because of dispersion, and while reducing the pollution production is a relatively simple solution ( through filters and catalytic combustion, etc) once the pollution is diffused in the environment, it becomes a very complex problem to solve, mainly because of the dimension of it. In other words, it is impossible to clean all the air in the atmosphere. china-may-use-drones-to-kill-the-smog-problem

2)Nonetheless, China is investing a large quantity of money to fix this difficult problem, and many innovative solutions are being implemented, such as air purifiers the size of buildings, or mist cannons that nebulizer liquids to trap harmful particles, but still, these solutions face the great challenge of diluted pollution and large dimensions.

A novel solution that is being tried is the smog-busting drones, the idea is to use drones to spray chemicals [liquid nitrogen],  to solidify pollutants in the air and fall to the ground.

“When liquid nitrogen is dispersed in air, it readily absorbs heat from the surrounding atmosphere, causing water vapor to instantly condense. The condensate would drag down particulate matter along with it as it falls to earth” Emily Carino-postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering with a PhD from the University of Texas

The chief executive of the company, Ma Yongsheng, he explained that drones have a reach of 5km and can carry 700 kg of smog-clearing chemicals, and have conducted over 100 hours of testing flight. [South China Morning Post]

Nonetheless, there is a big international opposition to this approach of geoengineering, mainly because of two postures, exposed by Emily Carino, from the University of Texas.

The first one is the effect that this chemical rain can have on citizens. “Used improperly, liquid nitrogen is dangerous: It can cause severe cold burns if it comes in contact with skin, and items cooled by liquid nitrogen can stick fast to human skin when touched.”

And the second is the risk of the unintended consequences of such chemical reaction, not only because the reaction occurs so quickly, but also because nitrogen outperforms all other agents during the reaction.

3) This technology is mainly to be deployed by the government since air pollution or air quality is a public good.

4) The steps to deploy this technology are to run a pilot and have an important and solid baseline to compare the improvements as well as the unintended consequences.

Nonetheless, I am very skeptical about the impact of this technology application due to the unintended consequences, and most importantly it is important to point out the irrational thinking of creating rain from pollutants, instead of deploying filters and air pollution control systems in the industry and combustion vehicles.

 

Images sources: Image 1, Image 2

A Bay Area Startup Spins Lab-Grown Silk

 

silk1. Sustainability Problem: Climate Change (Carbon Intensity of Production) 

The apparel industry is one of the most unsustainable in the world, requiring heavy use of raw materials (water, land,etc.) and chemicals (dyes, coatings, finishes) , while also generating excessive waste because clothes are not made to be recycled. The production of polyester, a fabric made from petroleum/plastic, has increased almost sixfold from 1980 to 2007, and is incredibly carbon intensive.

 2. Solution

  • Bolt Threads, a startup out of the University of California San Francisco, studied spiders to understand how they produce webs, and has essentially used bio-mimicry to develop a newer, more sustainable way of producing fabric.
  • The main input is sugar from plants that are grown, harvested, and replanted. They have the same chemistry as silk from spiders/silkworms, but are man made
  • They studied silk proteins found in nature, develop proteins inspired by the natural silks by putting genes into yeast, and then produce the proteins in large quantities through fermentation. Bolt then takes the silk proteins and spins it into fibers, and the fibers into fabrics and garments

 3. Stakeholders

  • Bolt Threads
  • Investors
  • Manufacturer & procurement partners
  • 3rd party fabric users

 4 .Implementation Steps

  • Understand clothing pieces (i.e. athletic-wear, mens suits, etc?) that will be the most natural fit for this fabric
  • Produce the garments, set up direct to consumer marketplace
  • Partner with companies trying to be more sustainable who are interested in using fabric at a larger scale

Sources

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-03/a-bay-area-startup-spins-lab-grown-silk

https://boltthreads.com/technology/ 

JM4202

Comment on: World’s First 100% Compostable Water Bottle, Cap, & Label | This is a good innovation that can help the situation we are in. The bottle  technology has been around for a little while, the but company needed to develop the cap, as that was a roadblock for many industrial composters to start accepting the item.

As a frequent composter, I would like to know more about how the company expects to differentiate these bottles from others that are green – i.e Sprite, as to  not confuse those who are not careful about where they put their trash. Additionally, would be great to understand the ideal compost conditions for the 85 day compost time. If we start to get more and more ‘plastics’ and less organics in the compost, will that increase?

 

 

The Problem of Privacy

js5079 – Josh Strake
Link: NetworkWorld

Link 2: CityMetric
Sustainability Problem: Civic Engagement, Safety

We often glide right over the fact that technologies – in order to optimize consumptive energy patterns, commutes to work, infrastructure projects, and everything else a ‘smart city’ might take on – must measure millions of individual citizens in some way or another. It may be a simple measurement, or it may be a much more personal and in-depth one, depending on if the technology is meant to serve individuals or to be a pulse for the city’s measurables. However, in either case, we must consider that some people will not want to be measured, and we must be aware that their legal right to privacy is one of two things: it is either at risk, or it is putting smart technology’s future at risk.

Summary

-The 4th amendment affords citizens to protection against unreasonable search – which is often interpreted by the courts to be a protection against an unconsented search: this is what smart cities may have trouble with, as they do not ‘say please’.

-Given the uncertainty about the future of technology, many people are already expressing concern about their eventual loss of privacy as smart technologies become ubiquitous: these feelings could give rise to policy and sentiment that endanger smart city technology.

-In a broad sense, the benefits of a truly integrated smart city would make the cost of privacy loss worth it – but this is at a large scale. At the individual level, some people are guaranteed to oppose the technology as they are not rational actors.

Stakeholders

-Citizens that are being measured by smart city technology

-Policymakers

-Tech producers that could see restrictions put in place

Next Steps

There arent really next steps beyond ‘wait and see’. This post isn’t so much about a technology as it is about the drawbacks and expected reactions to any given smart technology that relies on unconsenting measurement of a city’s citizenry. Sample steps to look for would be:

-Watch development of opposition sentiment to smart cities

-Look for politicians to begin to stump about privacy in a digital age with a specific focus on cities

-Assess what policy impacts may be had, should they be enacted.

Comment on another post: ‘Introducing the Internet of Water’

This is an interesting idea: another thing to add is that this database would act as a sort of ‘clearing house’ for water demand, much like already exists in regional ISOs wholesale electricity markets. It could reduce waste by assessing anticipated regional demand for water and acting to ensure the demand is met (but not overmet).