CO2NCRETE – Researchers turn carbon dioxide into sustainable concrete

Sustainability Problem:

Over 30 billions tons of concrete are produced every year. Cement, main component of concrete, emits 0.8 tons of CO2 per ton of cement produced. This is about 7% of total global CO2 emissions. First source comes from CO2 released from limestone to produce lime. The second source is from lime and clay being heated to 1450 degrees celsius to make cement. UCLA research is trying to create a close loop process.

Technology:

  • CO2 released from limestone to produce lime gets captured
  • CO2 is then separated from gas stream by membrane
  • CO2 is integrated into building material

Stakeholders:

  • Citizens
  • Government
  • Construction Companies

Steps to Deploy Technology:

  1. Develop scalable technique for 3D-printing
  2. Integrate all processes into a pilot facility
  3. Optimize process parameters

 

 

 

 

Uber for trucks?

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Problem: Carbon Emissions

The trucking industry is composed of small, disparate actors who require brokers to organize shipment routes. This inefficient system often leaves trucks returning to their home bases empty, which is a waste of gas and contributes unnecessarily to congestion, accidents and carbon emissions.
The Solution:
  • Several companies have developed Uber-like apps that send pings to a nearby trucker about a shipment.
  • Like Uber, the trucker can either accept or reject the pick-up.
  • Whereas currently a broker is required to make hundreds of calls to arrange a shipment, the app uses algorithms applied on big data to understand and respond to shipping trends.
  • Ensuring trucks are always full decreases the total number of trucks on the road, which reduces carbon emissions, traffic congestion and accidents.
Stakeholders:
The 3 main companies developing apps.
Trucking companies.
Major shippers (Amazon, Walmart).
Steps to implementation:
1. Expand mobile platforms to span the entire country.
2. Engage more trucking companies and their customers to use the apps.
3. Analyze impacts of apps on trucking routes, congestion, carbon emissions, cost etc.

AIRCARBON: PLASTIC FROM THIN AIR

1. Sustainability Problem

  • Humans produce 660 billion pounds of plastic a year, and the manufacturing process creates three times as much carbon dioxide by weight as actual plastic.
  • Plastic is mostly made of crude oil, which is collected mainly by fracking in the US. Fracking is associated with water pollution, earthquakes in non-sismic areas, and methane emissions.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2014, CO2 accounted for about 80.9% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

Issues: Air Pollution, Carbon Dioxide emissions, Petroleum consumption, Fracking

 

2. Technology 

Typically, plastic is made by exposing hydro­carbons from fossil fuels to tremendous pressure and energy. Newlight’s first commercial plant, in California, captures methane generated by a dairy farm’s waste lagoon and transports it to a bioreactor. There, enzymes combine the gas with air to form a polymer. The resulting plastic, called AirCarbon, performs identically to most oil-based plastics but costs less—creating a market-­driven solution to global warming.

AirCarbon is able to meet the performance requirements of a wide range of applications, including applications currently using fossil fuel-based polypropylene, polyethylene, ABS, polystyrene, and TPU. AirCarbon™ can be used in extrusion, blown film, cast film, thermoforming, fiber spinning, and injection molding applications. For more information about specific functional properties, please contact Newlight.

Companies have already signed on to use AirCarbon in their products, including KI desk chairs (pictured), Dell computer packaging, and Sprint smartphone cases.

 

3. Stakeholders

  • Newlight Technologies (owner of the technologies)
  • Companies making plastic-based products
  • Policy-makers to promote the use of AirCarbon
  • Environmental NGOs to require policy-makers to demand sustainable plastic production processes.

 

4. Implementation Process

Founded in 2003, after 10 years of research, Newlight has developed, patented, and commercialized the world’s first commercially-scaled carbon capture technology able to produce high-performance thermoplastics from air and methane emissions that can match the performance of oil-based plastics and out-compete on price.

The company has already won several sustainability awards, as well as attended many environment and sustainability summits in order to spread the word and raise awareness. The list is too large to appear in this text but can be found here: http://newlight.com/news/

 

5. Sources:

Carbon Emissions Turned into Stone

Sustainability problem: 

CO2 released when burning fossil fuels leads to global warming

Solution:

Turn carbon capture into stone and store underground!

    • In Iceland, scientists turned carbon into stone by  pumping a power plant’s carbon dioxide into underground basalt and mixed them with water.  The process chemically solidified the carbon dioxide and changed the basalt and CO2 into a chalk like substance.
    • The solidifying process takes 2 years, whereas it was originally assumed to take decades.
    • The solidification resolves the risk that carbon stored underground as gas or slurry could accidentally be released into the atmosphere.
    • Its currently unclear whether the process could work with many types of basalt or saltwater as opposed to freshwater

Stakeholders

    • Governments trying to meet CO2 cap commitments
    • Power plants trying to limit CO2 due to regulations or cap and trade limits/incentives
    • Citizens who benefit from avoiding the impacts of global warming
    • Coastal cities/regions and other high risk localities that have to plan and pay for warming mitigation and adaption

First 3 steps for deployment:

    1. Additional studies of types of basalt and water required for the reaction (including testing factors that affect the duration of the reaction)
    2. Analysis of potential geographic locations and power plants that have the proper basalt formations and could make use of the technology
    3. Cost analysis and funding models to determine how much the technology will cost to use and which stakeholders should contribute to the costs

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-turn-carbon-dioxide-emissions-into-stone-video/

Fighting a Megacity’s Pollution with Mega Panels

Sustainability Problem:

Air Pollution in major cities around the world has become and issue that affects the health of city dwellers.

Article Summary:

  • Plastic panels coated with titanium dioxide (TiO2) can be placed on building facades that react to sunlight.
  • This material breaks down nitrogen oxides and VOCs when it gets in contact with sunlight.
  • Byproduct of chemical reaction is a non toxic chemical (calcium nitrate), which will get washed away with rain

Stakeholders:

  • Government
  • Private entities
  • Public

Steps for deploying technology:

  1. Getting approval from city government
  2. Secure funding for the project
  3. Finding buildings with larger square footage and sunlight exposure

References:

http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/projects/fighting-a-megacitys-pollution-with-mega-panels_o

http://www.prosolve370e.com/

 

 

 

 

LightGrid: GE Partners with Oceanside, CA

Problem

  • Energy: Cities are wasting energy and money powering unnecessary or broken roadway and street lights.

Technology

  • LightGrid by GE is an outdoor wireless control system for street and road lights. The technology allows for remote operation and monitoring of all fixtures through a Web-based user interface.
  • The technology allows you to collect real time data for any light fixture or group of light fixtures.
  • In Oceanside, CA the city expects to drive energy and maintenance savings by an estimated $600,000 annually.
  • In addition, the installation of new lights is expected to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 1.7 million pounds.

Stakeholders

  • GE
  • Local government
  • Residents

Process

  • Connect with cities and other municipalities to show them the benefits of installing GE LED street lights with LightGrid technology.
  • Install GE LED street lights with LightGrid technology on roads and streets, and in parks, parking lots, and other areas.
  • Monitor each light through the Web in real-time and respond to maintenance or operational needs and activate more precise “on/off” and light dimming schedules to save energy and money.

Sources

Row-bot: ‘Water Bug’ 3D-Printed Robot Digests Pollution, Converts it to Electricity

151123202802_1_900x600Row-bot with mouth open. Credit: Hemma Philamore, University of Bristol/BRL

 

Sustainability Problem:

Urban areas have the potential to pollute water in many ways. Runoff from streets carries oil, rubber, heavy metals, and other contaminants from automobiles. Groundwater and surface water can be contaminated from many sources such as garbage dumps, toxic waste and chemical storage and use areas, leaking fuel storage tanks, and intentional dumping of hazardous substances. Air pollution can lead to acid rain, nitrate deposition, and ammonium deposition, which can alter the water chemistry of lakes.

 

Areas of Sustainability:

Energy, Water, Pollution, Safety, Health

 

Technology:

  • Inspired by the aquatic water boatman beetle, Researchers at the University of Bristol have created a 3D printed robot that can self-propel, or ‘row’, along the surface of lakes and ponds, consuming microbes as it goes. Since the row-bot is powered by the microbes it eats, it does not require any recharging, and has the potential to be used in environmental monitoring and water clean-up systems.
  • When it is hungry, the Row-bot opens its soft robotic mouth and rows forward to fill its microbial fuel cell (MFC) stomach with nutrient-rich dirty water. It then closes its mouth and slowly digests the nutrients. In the cell, bacteria digest organic waste, and produce carbon dioxide as a by-product, as well as the protons and electrons needed to get the electrical circuit in the cell flowing. When it has recharged its electrical energy stores the Row-bot rows off to a new location, ready for another gulp of dirty water.

 

bio-inspired-3d-printed-row-bot-cleans-water-surface4

 

  • For flotation, the machine has four little stabilizers. To move, there are two paddles in the middle of its body, which have flexible flipper joints to make sure they move efficiently and minimize drag. The row-bot paddles were made as a 3D printed composite structure with a rigid frame that supports an elastic membrane. This membrane can either stretch to increase paddle surface, or, thanks to an integrated hinge, change the angle of the attack on the part of the paddle that remains underwater during the recover story, thereby reducing drag and increasing overall efficiency. The researchers added that the rigid frame was 3D printed with VeroWhite acrylic based photo-polymer, whereas the membrane was 3D printed in TangoBlack.
  • In this design, the row-bot generated more energy than it needed to keep refueling itself. That’s huge, and it means in the future, the answer to waste in the water might be sprinkling robots into the stream, and waiting until they eat all the garbage.

 

Sources:

Bio-inspired 3D printed Row-Bot cleans water surface as it ‘eats’ water bacteria

‘Water Bug’ Robot Digests Pollution, Converts it to Electricity

A row-bot that loves dirty water

Row-bot: An Energetically Autonomous Artificial Water Boatman

Urban Water Pollution

 

Stakeholders:

  • Environmental and electrical engineers and scientists
  • City governments
  • NGOs
  • Investors

 

Deployment:

  1. The results of this research were recently presented in a paper at the 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Hamburg, Germany.
  2. The next steps will be to add monitoring, remote sensing, and control systems that would allow the row-bot to be used in environmental monitoring and clean-up projects. For example, they could be used to monitor lakes for pollutants or deadly pathogens, and if found, either deploy more row-bots or some other system to restore water quality.
  3. Investors should provide initial seed funding for converting the prototype into a production-ready tool.
  4. NGOs should enforce policy and regulation of water pollutant levels in city lakes and other water sources.
  5. City governments should issue public tenders for companies implementing water pollution solutions with focus on sustainable practices. This would allow companies funding projects like this one to have a market opportunity.