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

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The Hydro-Micro Grid!

Sustainability issue – energy and renewables

Electricity is the backbone of development. Nevertheless, the current gird is firmly based on fossil fuels. additionally the grid’s design is decades old. If we wish to successfully transition to a cleaner and smarter grid and mitigate climate change we need innovative solutions…

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The solution – hydro-micro grid

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  • LucidEnergy is an American company based in Portland that creates hydro-turbines for municipal water pipes.
  • Many cities receive their water from remote and elevated locations. When gravity “powered” water flows towards a city, strong pressure (i.e., water speed) builds up in the pipes –  LucidEnergy harnesses this power by installing pipes with an intergrated micro-turbine.
  • The system is scalable and can generate between 18kw to 100kw based on the diameter of the pipe system and the flow rate.
  • The power generated can be sold to a 3rd party (e.g., a utility company via a P3). Anticipated return over the investment is 10 years.
  • The solution has been tested successfully in Portland, Oregon and Riverside, California.
  • The company is currently working on the 2nd generation of its LucidPipe turbine design, “which will significantly increase power output, operate across a wider range of pipe sizes and flows and significantly reduce capital cost”.

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Stakeholders

  • Municipalities
  • Water utilities
  • Electric utilities
  • Army bases, universities and any entity that owns its own water (pipes) infrastructure

Implementation

Step 1 – The company should finish developing LucidPipe 2.0

Step 2 – The company should begin partnering with municipalities and key stakeholders – first as pilots then as contracts.

Step 3 – The company should expand its operations, ideally to countries that are undertaking a lot of infrastructure projects (e.g., China and India) and look into the possibility of opening manufacturing facilities there.

Company Website – Link

 

Link to comment – https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/30/desalination-2-0/comment-page-1/#comment-1519

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

 

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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!

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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:

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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!

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  • 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).

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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