Seafloor “Magic Carpet”

1.) Sustainability Problem: Energy, water & safety

2.) Technology: A multi-directional ocean wave energy converter is being developed by the US Berkeley team with an approach that emulates natural ecosystems – the ability of muddy seafloors to absorb ocean waves within a couple of wavelengths. A synthetic-seabed-carpet is connected to a grid of generators underneath for the extraction of wave energy to generate electricity, creation of safe zones in oceans and prevention of erosion. Many current technologies harnessing ocean energy contribute to the interference of ocean currents that affect the global weather system and may harm marine life (turbines), however this solution may be more natural as it imitates “mud holes” on the coastal seafloor.

3.) Stakeholders:

  • Cities and governments attempting to mitigate disaster risk management – this technology can potentially cancel waves of large hurricanes and store them as energy.
  • Residents of coastal regions.
  • Public and private companies working on blue economy initiatives and water/energy technologies.
  • Energy distributors.

4.) Deployment:

  1. Collaborate with atmospheric science and marine life biology research teams to determine harmful impacts on ocean currents and marine life.
  2. Fully proof the functionality of a pilot plant in the ocean.
  3. Begin construction development of pilot plant and testing in the ocean.

5.) Reply to Octavio Franco

  • Yang developed a new bioplastic called polylactide (PLLA), a biodegradable polymer made from either corn starch or sugarcane through a heating process of the polylactide to nearly 400 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by slow-cooling it. However, this might not be the best solution for plastics because they can often take decades to actually break down completely, unlike often advertised. (

By: Sylwia Zieba

UNI: sz2673

Safer and Better Performing Energy Storage Technologies


  1. Sustainability Problem: Rising energy demand and the need for incorporating more renewable energy in the electric grid is increasing the need for higher performing and safer energy storage devices. Category: Energy, Safety and Health
  1. Spinning a lighter, safer electrode

  • A group of researchers from Drexel University have created new fabric-like material electrode, intended to help energy storage devices such as cell phone batteries have better performance and reduce their inherent health and safety risks associated with the toxic and flammable electrolyte fluid they contain.
  • To get rid of this dangerous liquid, the team designed an energy storage device that consists of a thick ion-rich gel electrolyte absorbed in a fabric-like material made of carbon nanofibers, thus eliminating the risk of the device exploding or catching fire (as was recently demonstrated in Samsung Galaxy Note devices).
  • The technology also allows for lighter, more durable, and better performing energy storage devices, due to the lack of binding agents needed and ability to operate safely at extremely high temperatures (up to 300 degrees Celsius).

Additional ways this technology can be utilized

  • Energy storage in the built environment is one the largest barriers to the proliferation of renewable energy due to the intrinsic intermittency of solar and wind power technologies. In NYC, fire safety codes have been a limiting factor for the deployment of lithium-ion batteries in buildings. (see:
  • If the energy storage device created by the scientist team from Drexel University can be proven effective on a larger scale, not just in mobile device batteries, it can potentially help solve the fire safety issues of battery storage in buildings and support proliferation of renewable energy in the built environment.
  1. Stakeholders: Renewable energy companies, local government bodies regulating energy and buildings (i.e. NYSERDA, NYC DOT, FDNY), Building owners.
  2. Next Steps:
  • Research applicability of large-scale of liquid-free energy storage technology and develop energy storage devices using the technology.
  • Update building and fire codes to allow for the deployment of these devices in the built environment.
  • Provide subsidies for large scale liquid-free batteries to building owners and builders.
  1. Comment on post by js5079 – How Internet-of-Things technology can assist with Urban Rainfall and Stormwater Management Systems:

The sensors can also trace chemicals present in stormwater, and help determine how well the existing green infrastructure is performing. For example, if rainwater is prevented from entering the sewer system, or which green infrastructure designs are more appropriate for which types of precipitation (heavy vs. light rain, etc.).


Fully Circular Furniture

1) Sustainability Problem: Waste

Our lifestyles have come to revolve around single use, disposable items that accumulate in our streets, landfills and our oceans. At the same time, we are depleting our natural resources to produce these singe use times. This method of production uses our natural resources at an unsustainable rate and damaging the environment.

2) Technology:

  • Pentatonic, a circular homeware startup, is addressing this problem by creating high-end, modular, locally made, furniture that is fully recyclable. All of their products are made from post-consumer waste, located, sourced and produced in Europe. The company is also encouraging consumers to sell back the products they no longer wish to keep so that they can be made into something new by Pentatonic. All of their products are made using single materials so that they can be recycled.
  •   Pentatonic’s products are also modular so that you can repurpose components from a chair to build one of their tables and vice versa, meaning you only have to buy the remaining components needed.
  • Additionally, Pentatonic is offering their customers full transparency, every Pentatonic component has a Product Identification Number engraved on it, which allows them to track that component’s journey through the entirety of its lifecycle: where and when it was made, what trash was used to make it, what batch it was a part of and who has owned it.
  • While the concept of recycling waste into fabrics is not new, Pentatonic takes this concept to a new level by always using single materials that are fully recyclable and combining this with a circular business model in the furniture industry, which has not been done before.
  • Their unique materials include: Plyfix, a textured felt made from plastic that is water-resistant and breathable; SRPX, a sustainable cotton fiber that is made of layers of knitted fabric; fabric made from woven plastic (PET) that is more durable than regular fabric, and glassware made from recycled smartphone screens.  All of the fabrics are free of bio-based components, can be used indoors or outdoors, and are machine washable. The glassware is dishwasher safe and scratch-resistant.

3) Stakeholders:

  • Competitors (other furniture companies)
  • Consumers
  • Waste management facilities (sourcing materials)

4) Deployment/Implementation

  • Finalize component traceability system and launch on website
  • Increase partnerships to help consumer learn about and use their products (Starbucks collaboration and pop-up)
  • Increase marketing efforts to increase their customer base in order to take full advantage of their circular business model.




Comment on Car to Car Communication:

Since this is a wireless communication network there are issues with security that are not discussed in this article at all. Additionally, how effective will this system be on first implementation? Without a large network of other cars to “talk to” the sensors will not provide much value.

Reducing GHG Impact Through Smart Bins

Issues : Waste

Sustainability Problem : The US alone accumulates upwards of 222 million tons annually. Most of this comes from a variety of sources including plastic, paper, organics and glass. Even though recycling rates in developed countries are considerably higher, contamination of recyclables still poses a large risk and loss. In addition, the cost associated with transporting trash to landfills is tremendously high.

Technology :

  • Autonomous M2M sensor is installed in the container lid. The sensor measures container fill level and transmits data to a centralized system where route optimization is planned.
  • Solar energy enabled bins can be used to fuel bins as internet hot spots being fashioned as learning hubs


Sample ecosystem players : Enevo , TDC, Cisco, Bigbelly


Stakeholders :

  • Business
  • Governments
  • Communities


Deployment :

  • Reduction of operational costs and initial start-up
  • Market technology by demonstrating the sustainability management and cost reduction.
  • Develop collaboration platforms for value creation and data optimization to gain and maintain competitive advantage.


Car to Car Communication

Problem: Safety  

With a estimated 1.3 million deaths per year and 20-50 million injuries due to motor vehicle related incidents, the ways in which we interact with cars presents a significant sustainably risk to both drivers and pedestrians.


  • Car to Car communication allows for the transfer to data from a few hundred meters away
  • Information on cars position, speed, steering wheel position, brake status, and more is relayed
  • Readings from other cars are transmitted every 10 seconds


  • -Governments
  • -Automobile Companies
  • -Pedestrians
  • -Vehicle Consumers


  • The first step with be developing reliable prototypes of the technology to initiate its position in the market.
  • Agreements between car companies will need to be made to create a communication system that is universal or compatible across the industry.
  • Due to the high level of cost needed to implement the systems initially, involvement from governments will be needed to drive policy change and provide subsidies to reduce overall cost.

Comment to other post:



Image Source:


By Dominic Bell (dlb2189)


AI for surveillance? Is there a cost-effective and ethical solution to using big data for managing social misconduct?

Sustainability problem– Rising rates of social misconduct, ranging from littering and improper waste management to crime and violence against women.

While these may not appear to be a “sustainability” problem, we must acknowledge that sustainability refers to the environmental, social and governance aspects of society. Improper social conduct can result in ripple effects that can compound and impact the sustainability performance of a city.

Sustainability technology– Artificial intelligence to convert CCTVs from “solving” to “preventing” social misconduct

Chicago has recently piloted a program where the police use artificial intelligence algorithms to rate every person’s arrest with a numerical threat score. This algorithm shapes policing strategy, the use of force, and threatens to alter suspicion on the streets. In practical effect, the personalized threat score automatically displays on police computer dashboards so an officer can know the relative risk of the suspect being stopped. The predictive score also shapes who gets targeted for proactive police intervention.

This use of big data and machine learning can be viewed as both a terrific advancement and a terrifying example of social control (A popular Japanese anime called Psycho Pass plays with this concept and depicts how society is ultimately controlled by a massive AI system that dictates how people should behave, what is a crime and how the police should handle the situation). However, the threat can be tackled in the following ways-

  • Ensuring transparency- the variables that go into computing the threat score and the logic behind predictions should be known to the public
  • Law makers must ensure that final decisions being made are at the police officer’s discretion- the final authority on a decision should always be a human
  • Ensure that there is a clear distinction between the algorithmic output and human decisions and bias

However, the purpose of this post is to introduce another interesting way of using AI to monitor social conduct that is less intrusive. An example of this can be seen in the 24/7 surveillance model piloted by Kolkatta in India in 2012 (and subsequently replicated in a few cities globally). The system relies on existing infrastructure (CCTV cameras installed across cities) and uses video analytics and artificial intelligence algorithms to identify anomalies in behaviour.

Picture a normal every day scene on a busy pavement. Office-goers on their way to work, pedestrians grabbing a bite at a food truck. The moment something out of the ordinary happens – someone lunges at another person, a pedestrian collapses, a crowd suddenly gathers or a bag is left unattended too long – intelligent algorithms will instantly identify any change in the normal picture and alert a computer placed in the nearest police kiosk, which will set off an alarm at the local police station through satellite connectivity. In just a few seconds of a suspicious activity or object being detected, officers will be watching it live on their screens and initiate appropriate action.

The technology can be used to ensure corrective action and adherence to rules regarding traffic, waste management and littering as well as more serious crimes. However, the exact placement of CCTV cameras is a sensitive issues- crowded streets and public areas are a given while private buildings and residences will always be out of bounds to ensure respect of privacy.


Key stakeholders and their role in implementation

  • Governments- to ensure that proper and detailed guidance on the ethics of using such systems are in place along with ensuring protection of human rights
  • Enforcement agencies- including the crime and traffic department of police, Department of Sanitation etc.
  • Citizens- to voice their opinions, understand the terms and conditions and ensure they are contributing to the formulation of guiding policies


Post on Solar Bike Paths-

This is a fantastic thought and a perfect use of existing space. I myself have thought of alternatives to such innovations- how about mounting small solar modules on the top of buses and trucks that spend hours on end out on the road in the sun?

The issue i see is with grid management- will this solution exacerbate the duck curve problem in times of over generation? I think that for this to reach scale, we need to constantly think of storage at scale as well.

-By Aksheya Chandar (ac4154)


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.


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.

Bladeless wind turbines for the future

  1. Sustainability Problem: Alternative energy is already being incorporated into the world’s energy mix. However, many people are still unsatisfied by its performance. A major problem is the balance between cost and efficiency. So, what can we do to address that?

  2. Vortex offers a less intrusive and more efficient wind turbine design by incorporating the scientific principles of natural frequency and vorticity. The turbine generates power by oscillating in swirling air caused by the wind bypassing the mast. Some advantages of this technology are:
    • Lower costs – no gears or bearings, reducing maintenance and manufacturing costs
    • Respectful of nature – no lubrication needed, noiseless, less carbon footprint
    • Accessibility – no energy and no training is required to operate
    • Scalability – lower height wind turbines available for micro power generation



Can bladeless wind turbines mute opposition? | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

The future of wind turbines could be bladeless | CNBC

Vortex .Bladeless Wind Generator.

  1. Stakeholders:
    • Energy players
    • Wind energy market
    • Financial Industry
    • Technology Industry
    • Utility companies
    • Consumers all over the world
  2. Next steps:
    • Demonstrate feasibility by conducting field tests for micro and macro scale power generation
    • Introduce this innovative technology to the market by establishing partnerships and investing in outreach
    • Quickly and efficiently scale up the solution to a mass market


By: Timothy Wiranata

UNI: tw2618


Comments on Improving access to medical supplies with drones

“A very interesting concept indeed. I am hopeful that this will be the future of shopping, where drones deliver everything to our homes. However, the constraint right now is the drone technology itself. In cities with developed infrastructure, the drones will need to have a top-notch maneuvering ability to avoid buildings. Although your post is focused towards cities with less developed infrastructure, this can prove to be the next challenge.”

Better Option For Our Oceans With Biodegradable Plastic?

Plastic debris from bottles and other packaging isn’t the only source of pollution we face when it comes to maintaining our oceans healthy and free from plastics. The threat from plastic fibers in our clothing is just as detrimental to our oceans. Biodegradable plastics are already being used in the market for bottle manufacturing and other packaging needs. But the challenge to develop a biodegradable plastic fiber that is durable enough to use in manufacturing clothing has evaded scientist. In a Seeker article by Molly Fosco , Yiqi Yang a biological systems engineering professor from the University of Nebraska believes that he may have found to the solution. Prof. Yang has redeveloped the manufacturing process to make a more durable biodegrable fiber and has teamed up with Cargil to manufacture and develop this fiber. The collaboration effort though Natureworks will help to drastically reduce the amount of non-biodegradable plastic waste that is being dumped in our oceans and in turn affecting our food chain.

Octavio Franco

#oaf2118 / Fall 2017 – Week 3

Reply to Brian Balzar:

Hi Brian-

I have been interested in hydorponics for some time also since I first read about Dr. Marting Schreibman’s ( work at CUNY’s Brooklyn College. His work merges both aquaculture and hydroponics for a more sustainable process. The advancement in these technologies are vital to the food, water and energy nexus for the progression towards a sustainable process across all industries. If you ever get a chance I would enjoy talking to you about your experience in the field. Thanks.

Octavio Franco
#oaf2118 / Fall 2017 – Week 3

Next-Generation Perovskite Solar Cells Healed with Light


Sustainability issue

Category: Energy

Perovskite solar cells have revolutionized the field of thin-film photovoltaics in less than one decade. However, tiny defects in the crystalline structure of perovskites – called traps – can cause electrons to get stuck before their energy has been harnessed. The easier an electron can move around in a solar cell material, the more efficient that material will be at converting photons, or particles of light, into electricity. These so-called traps hamper the efficiency of the perovskite material.

A team of Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Bath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Delft University of Technology reports that these defects can be permanently healed by exposing it to light and just the right amount of humidity.


Technology solution

  • The team used techniques compatible with scalable roll-to-roll processes to print a perovskite-based device, but before the device was completed, they exposed it to light, oxygen and humidity.
  • Perovskites frequently start to degrade when exposed to humidity, but the team found that when humidity levels were between 40 and 50%, and the exposure was limited to 30 minutes, the perovskite did not degrade.
  • Once the exposure was complete, the remaining layers were deposited to finish the device.
  • When the light was applied to the material, electrons bound with oxygen, forming a superoxide that could very effectively bind to electron traps and prevent them from hindering electrons.
  • In the accompanying presence of water, the perovskite surface also gets converted to a protective shell. The shell coating removes traps from the surfaces but also locks in the superoxide, meaning that the performance improvements in the perovskites are now long-lived.



  • Consumers
  • Utility companies
  • Organizations that are related to greenhouse gas and climate change
  • Energy companies that aim at the utilization of solar energy
  • Government department which is responsible for the city residency’s energy supply


Implementation steps

Step 1: Introduce this new technology via a variety of methods to the government, energy companies and citizens.

Step 2: Set up workshop and studio to show audience about the feasibility and potential market of the technology.

Step 3: Establish a corporation relationship with the government and build an incentive system to encourage people to get involved with this technology.




Comment on Another Blog Post

Post: IoT powered by wireless signals

Comment: One version of the called passive Wi-Fi, is being commercialized through a spin-off company, Jeeva Wireless. It allows battery-free devices connect with traditional devices such as computers and mobile phones by backscattering Wi-Fi signals. In tests, prototype passive Wi-Fi unit have beamed data as far as 100 feet and made connections through walls. Doing that requires changing the software of a Wi-Fi access point to generate an additional signal for passive Wi-Fi devices to use, very slightly increasing its power consumptions.


UNI – wy2283