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

Water from thin (but humid) air!

Sustainability problem

Water security (both quality and quantity)

The problem

Water is not only necessary to survive, but it is also a fundamental building block of a decent quality of life. Nevertheless, nearly 800 million people do not have water security (link).  Fresh water, which includes safe drinking water, account for less than 4% of all the water of the plant (link). Moreover, these water bodies are localized and accesses to them is limited. In short, there is an urgent need for potable water in many parts of the world. On the other hand, air is very abundant….

The solution – Water from air!

product_03_large-1.png

  • Water-Gen is a Israeli company that produces a line of Atmospheric Water Generators (AWGs) and de-humidifing products.
  • The units only require electricity to operate. The company’s largest generator can  produce up to 6,000 liters per day. Standard operating conditions are 26.7°C and 60% Relative Humidity.
  • The company claims its solutions are ideal for cities in developing countries and has identified 12 cities (ranging from Jakarta, Indonesia to Salvador, Brazil) that can greatly benefit from the technology, which can be integrated into existing buildings,
  • One of the nice features about the water generators is that their optimal operating period (when humidity peaks) is at night (when electricity demand is low).

img-04-1.jpg

Stakeholders

  • Individuals in developing countries with poor access to water
  • Individuals in developed countries who live in areas with contaminated water (e.g., Flint, Michigan)
  • Army and Science facilities that are “off the grid”.

Implementation

Step 1 – Partner with cities, organizations and countries that are in need for humanitarian aid  for pilot programs to increase public awareness.

Step 2 –  continue to improve the product and make it more “renewable energy friendly”, which will increase its attractiveness for communities with poor access to electricity.

Step 3- Expand operations and open additional factories that will allow the company to reach economies of scale, which will lower the product’s price.

Sources

Company website – Link

 

Comment on A Bay Area Startup Spins Lab-Grown Silk (JANEVAMORFAW):

Thats is a very cool idea with great potential. I hope that the company will be able to cheaply produce enough “silk” and have a global presence so that they will be able to bring about a real change.

Two things stand out to me in this technology: 1) Is the farming of the planets the company extracts sugar from sustainable and are these plants widely available?  2) Can the company bring the technology to a sufficient scale so that it can “move the needle” and meaningfully make the apparel industry more sustainable?

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?

 

 

Remote Controlled Beach Lifeguard

Issues: health, safety, mobility, public administration service

Solution: This Remote Controlled Beach Lifeguard is designed to assist beach lifeguards in their task of beach and water surveillance. It was positioned on a patrol tower and stands higher than the beach crowd to get a clear overview of the area. When employed, it flies overhead for ground patrol and serves as co-rescue equipment when swimmers, surfers, and other water sports participants are in danger. This charging patrol tower can also be installed on the back of the lifeguard’s pick-up truck. It can recharge itself at the patrol tower, as well as by solar power. When hazard happens, the lifeguard and the remote-controlled assistant will make their way to the victim’s location, and the assistant serves as a surfboard. The lifeguard can control the board to pull the victim back to the coast.

Stakeholders involved: Technology companies, Beach Police, Beach users

Implementation: 

  1. Investors raise funds to develop the technology
  2. Manufactures make mass production
  3. Contract with beach police department to deploy this product

Source: https://www.droneflit.com/news/amphibious-joint-lifeguard-uav-takes-to-the-beach/

Comment on another post:

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/26/monitoring-tech-for-sleeping-babies/comment-page-1/#comment-1510

UNI: QS2162

Monitoring Tech for Sleeping Babies

1) Safety and Health:  

  • The first few years of a baby’s life are usually the more dangerous as they need to be watched at all times to ensure that they remain healthy and safe throughout their early development. Up to this point, many parents have used devices to listen for irregular activity, however OSPICON has developed a sleep monitoring mat take baby care to the next level.

2) Technology:

  • The sleep mat is used by caregivers to monitor respiratory rates and ambient air temperature
  • Once irregular breathing is detected, such as a slowdown or sudden increase in breath count, a breath event alarm is sent directly to the baby’s parents
  • It design also emits less energy than a flashlight without external wires or cords
  • A Sleep- Mat mobile app comes free with the device and can be connected to through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to track irregular movements as well

3) Stakeholders:

  • Hospitals
  • New Parents
  • Caregivers

4) Deployment:

  • Test out the product more thoroughly with a large sample size to fix any possible bugs in the system design
  • Work with hospitals and neonatal care centers to push for adding the devices within the institutions to develop a norm of operations
  • Develop a business care for dispersing the technology into homes after babies have left the hospital

5) Student Post: 

“The business model of Plantagon is based on retrofitting, extending existing buildings, developing new buildings and establishing a symbiotic system. The whole goal of the initiative is to reduce transportation costs and emissions.”

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/25/urban-vertical-farming/comment-page-1/#comment-1508

Sources: 

http://mashable.com/2015/11/02/singapore-healthcare-innovation/#o.6KKWIq6Gqr

http://ospicon.com/the-sleep-mat/

Dominic Bell (dlb2189)

Block-chain for Smart Grid

1. Sustainability Problem: On an electricity grid, electrons generated from the sun, wind, or other renewable sources are indistinguishable from those generated by fossil fuels. To keep track of how much clean energy is produced, governments around the world have created systems based on tradable certificates.

Category: Energy

2. Solution:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/609077/how-blockchain-could-give-us-a-smarter-energy-grid/

  • When a renewable-power plant generates a unit of electricity today, a meter spits out data that gets logged in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is then sent to a registry provider, where the data gets entered into a new system and a certificate is created. A second set of intermediaries brokers deals between buyers and sellers of these certificates, and yet another party verifies the certificates after they are purchased.
  • Such a byzantine system racks up transaction costs, while leaving plenty of room for accounting errors that can range from honest mistakes to outright fraud. The lack of transparency also scares many people off entirely.
  • A blockchain is a shared, encrypted ledger that is maintained by a network of computers. These computers verify transactions—in the case of Bitcoin, the transfer of cryptocurrency between individual users. Each user can access the ledger, and there is no single authority.
  • Keeping track of renewable-energy certificates is one of dozens of potential applications of blockchain technology that could solve data management challenges in the electricity sector without disrupting business as usual

3. Organizational Stakeholders involved: Independent Power Producers, Utilities, Technology Companies

4. Next Steps for Deployment: 

  • Develop blockchain algorithms that can be trusted by all users
  • Train utilities and power companies in use of blockchain applications
  • Create meeting protocols for all stakeholders to confer in case of any emergencies
  • Implement on a pilot basis and test effectiveness

5. Comment on another blog:

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/25/coffee-biofuel-in-london-buses/comment-page-1/#comment-1506

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).

 

Compostable Water Bottles

Problem
Almost all developing and upcoming cities are facing problems with waste management. As areas become more urbanized and the middle class grows, waste generation levels tend to rise exponentially. Landfills are reaching capacity and many cities like Jakarta are now having to deal with the added problem of illegal burning and dumping of trash. Another problem that cities with a green objectives are facing is the waste content itself, which drives recycling down and hinders the cities’ efficiency.

Solution
Totally Green Bottles & Caps have come up with the design of a bottle that is 100% compostable. This includes the cap and label too. They are made from plant-based materials and take around 3 months to compost, adding no toxicity to the Earth. Cities can adopt these to minimize their waste, as plastic water bottles are proving to be a great challenge to address. These bottles can also potentially boost recycling levels and help cities reach their recycling objectives, while other cities that rely on incineration can take advantage of the bottles’ properties that make it incineration friendly as clean burning fuel.

IMG_1928-1024x768

Stakeholders

  • Totally Green Bottles & Caps
  • Cities
  • Manufacturers of material used
  • Local farms that can intake compost
  • Incineration facilities
  • Water bottle users
  • Grocery stores

Next Steps
The company is starting to sell the product at a small scale. It is essential to keep records of performances and success and work on improvement using feedback from current consumers. The next step should be pitching the idea to cities and mayor offices with green initiatives like Planyc to start manufacturing and selling the product at a larger scale. Next will be to market the product and try to expand into other economies.

By: Ahmad Al Zubair (aa4098)

Resources used:


Comment on “A greenhouse that lets you produce crops and electricity simultaneously
I wonder if the technology can also include sensors that can track plant type and growth rates. This way perhaps the system can further alter the wavelength of the light and “test out” different values to find the optimum environment for these plants and share the data with other greenhouses.