CropX: Second Generation Soil Moisture Sensor

Problem:

With a growing population and an increasing demand for food, agricultural systems and water systems are becoming increasingly pressured. With such mass production, the agricultural industry is shifting towards more automated systems to improve efficiency. That efficiency and automation must also be applied to water use, as water becomes more and more scarce.

 

Article/Technology:

This second generation CropX is a soil sensor that transmits information on the soil moisture of a particular field to a mobile device. It sends out alerts so that farmers are aware when their fields are getting too dry and need to be watered. Farmers can then turn on their irrigation systems (also from their devices) until the CropX sensors tell them that the field has been sufficiently irrigated. This efficiency ensures that plants are not being overwatered, that there isn’t an unnecessary amount of water being wasted, and allows farmers to scale up their production since they no longer need to check all the fields themselves but can receive relevant information on the go.

The improvement with these second generation sensors is that they can be installed by the farmers themselves and take less than 5 minutes to set up. This makes the sensors much more user friendly and easy to manage. Older sensors took about 20 minutes per sensor to install and were much more complicated.

Article: http://farmindustrynews.com/variable-rate/5-new-irrigation-technologies-aim-precision#slide-3-field_images-83331

Video on Second Generation Crop X: https://www.cropx.com/product/

Stakeholders:

  • CropX
  • Engineers
  • Investors (Bayer, Bosch etc.)
  • Farmers

Implementation:

  • CropX recently received significant investment from Bayer and Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Flex.
  • Next step would be to work with farmers and teach them about the benefits of such technology
  • Help farmers implement the technology on their fields
  • Implement this technology in developing regions that are trying to produce more but suffer from water scarcity

Handy Pod Toilets: Wetland plants naturally filter human waste

Problem:

Floating villages, mostly in South East Asia, generally flush their waste directly into the water beneath them. As these residents depend entirely on the water they live on (e.g. fishing, bathing etc.), this discharge has grave effects on health due to bacterial diseases.

 

Technology/Article: 

Handy Pods, developed by Wetlands Work, use local plants to filter sewage waste prior to releasing it back into the water. The waste is first filtered through local plants that soak up waste toxins, like E.coli, up to 99.999% without chemicals or power. The remaining cleaned water is then free to be released back into the lake.

An additional benefit is that this technology can be at low cost and using local materials.

This project has already been deployed in Prek Toal, a floating village on a lake in Cambodia, that is home to roughly 100,000 people.

Article: http://inhabitat.com/floating-toilets-filter-human-waste-in-cambodia-naturally-via-wetland-plants/

 

Stakeholders:

  • Wetlands Work
  • Investors
  • NGOs
  • Floating village communities

 

Implementation:

  • Although cheap, Wetlands Work will need investors to raise capital to have this technology deployed in various other floating village communities
  • NGOs will need to implement this technology on the ground (teach communities how to build it, how to maintain it, the health and environmental benefits etc.)
  • Ideally, implementation would target lakes/areas where this technology has already been partially implemented because even if some villages on a given lake have the technology, but others don’t, then they will not get the full health and environmental benefits that come with such filtration.

Solar Sync: Efficient Irrigation

Solar Sync

Problem: Water is becoming a scarce resource and certain communities are already experiencing how water shortages is affecting their quality of life. In California, for example, which experienced a 4-year drought, was exposed to strict regulations regarding ‘unnecessary’ water use (e.g. lawn irrigation). As water becomes even less available, such concerns will become more severe, however, certain technologies are trying to find ways so that people may not need to sacrifice their lifestyle to such extreme extents, but rather try to use the water that they have more efficiently.

 

Article/ Technology:

Solar Sync ET does just that: it is a smart irrigation control system that uses a weather sensor and calculates evapotranspiration so that it can adjusts irrigation timers/controllers based on the daily local weather conditions.

Using the temperature, sunlight, and its calculated evapotranspiration rate, the Solar Sync adjusts sends signals to the timer and tells it how long the irrigation system should run for.

According to the website, this technology is compatible with most of the company’s controllers and can be used for residences, businesses, and even municipalities.

Link: http://www.hunterindustries.com/irrigation-product/sensors/solar-syncr

 

Stakeholders:

  • Suppliers
  • Engineers
  • Hunter (Company that owns the technology)
  • Investors
  • Retailers
  • Customers (Residential owners, businesses, municipalities)

Implementation:

  • Next steps for this company would be to consider making this technology compatible with other sensors. While it is a business decision to make it only compatible with its other products, it might be another business opportunity to expand this sensor to other brands as well.
  • Additionally, the company should look to market to businesses and municipalities, who will especially feel the impacts of stricter water regulations and who will be looking to invest in technology that allows them to maintain daily activities with little interruption.
  • Finally, the company should especially be marketing in areas of drought or water shortages as these are the areas most pressured to invest in solutions.

Hydrogen-Powered Tram

Problem: Greenhouse gas emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions are a large contributor to global warming. As the world is trying to stay under the 2 degree mark, we will need to find a way to drastically reduce our GHG emissions.

Article:

The China South Rail Corp developed the world’s first hydrogen powered tram, which just finished production in April. The tram’s only emissions will be water, it can be recharged in about 3 minutes, and has a 100km range. Not only will this tram be more environmentally friendly, but it will also reduce operation costs for the company.

See more: http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/hydrogen-powered-tram/

Stakeholders:

  • China South Rail Corp (CSRC)
  • Engineers
  • City, regional, and national government (transportation authorities)
  • Investors

Implementation:

  • CSRC should negotiate with other neighboring cities to develop trams that can replace the current ‘dirty’ trains.
  • As China also pledges to formally adopt the paris climate agreement, the country could decide to implement clean transportation nationally- CSRC should negotiate with the government to be the official producer of trams for such a project.
  • Increase investment so that the CSRC can produce trams at greater scale

 

 

beta.ray: A Spherical Sun Power Generator

Problem: High energy usage contributes to GHG emissions

Electricity, heat production, and other energy was contributed roughly 35% of global GHG emissions in 2010. (EPA)

Globally, we still heavily depend on oil and coal as a power source for energy, which have high GHG emission factors. If we can switch this power source to solar, however, we could serious reduce the amount of GHGs that our energy consumption emits.

Article:

Andre Broessel, a German architect, designed a solution that can gather solar energy in a highly efficient manner. Apparently, it can even get energy at night or in low-light areas.

The technology rotates with the sun, gathers solar as well as thermal radiation, can gather radiation from the moon at night, and is much smaller than traditional solar panels.

It can be installed on sides of buildings, any inclined surface, and has even been used for electric car charging stations. Finally, it can, but does not need to be connected to the grid.

http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/spherical-sun-power-generator/

Stakeholders:

  • Investors to commercialize the technology
  • Engineers
  • Potential Customers (e.g, Large retailers, large companies, cities, electric car charging stations, residential homeowners)
  • Government (if to provide incentives or include in cities)
  • Utility companies if the technology is connected to the grid

Implementation:

  • Raise money from investments to commercialize the technology
  • Find customers- i.e. develop partnerships with large retailers /restaurants/ companies/ cities who are looking to become more sustainable (Walmart, McDonalds, Chipotle, etc.)
  • Once the larger companies have this installed and there is increased demand, the cost may also decrease and become more affordable for homeowners.

Other Sources:

EPA:https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html

AgriProtein: Turning Food Waste Back Into Food

Problem:

Protein for livestock production has become very expensive and has severe environmental implications to produce: producing agricultural protein uses a lot of land space and energy, and any protein derived from fish meal has serious marine life impacts.

Technology:

AgriProtein uses food waste to harvest fly larvae, which eats the food waste during the process, and turn it into agricultural protein. Before the larvae becoming flies, they are harvested and turned into “MagMeal” which is then delivered to chicken and fish farms.

This not only provides a cheaper form of agricultural protein but also helps to eliminate the amount of garbage wasted. As we currently waste roughly one-third (1.3 billion tonnes) of waste per year (FAO), the supply of raw materials for this technology is also abundant.

Stakeholders:

  • chicken and fish producers (customers)
  • investors
  • engineers (of technology)
  • Restaurants/Retailers/ Farms who are disposing of food waste (suppliers)

Implementation:

  • Increase funding to expand these fly farms around the world
  • Locate in areas near both chicken/fish farms as well as near large retailers to reduce transportation costs.
  • Develop strong relations with restaurants/retailers/ farms etc. who are looking to dispose of their food waste as well as with chicken/fish farms (who may also provide a source for additional food waste if an of their products die on the farm.)
  • Educate chicken and fish farmers on the benefits of this protein
    • since the chicken in the chicken industry are typically owned by the large integrators (i.e. Tysons, Perdue etc.) who have a large say in what their products eat, this step may also include educating the large companies on the benefits of AgriProtein.

Sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/jason-drew-magmeal-farm-in-south-africa-2015-2?r=UK&IR=T

http://agriprotein.com

FAO: http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/