Until we are able to pollute less – Smog Filtering Towers can help clean the air



  1. Sustainability Problem: Air pollution in cities causes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as premature death. Category: Health
  2. Possible tech solution: Smog Filtering Tower.


  • The City of Rotterdam in the Netherlands was the first in the world to open a smog-free tower.
  • The vacuum-cleaner like structure is seven meters high. It sucks in dirty air, filters it using Ion technology, and return clean air into the atmosphere.
  • Every hour, the tower can clean 30,000 cubic meters of air.
  • Verification tests have shown that the tower improves outdoor air quality by up to 60%, and indoor air quality (such as in parking garages) by up to 70%.
  1. Organizational Stakeholders: Citizens in highly polluted cities, local environmental organizations, private Genentech companies, municipal departments of environmental protection, local political leaders.
  2. Steps in deploying the technology:
    • Obtain political buy in from local stakeholders
    • Secure financial support (can be PPP that brings together local public and private organizations)
    • Design smog filtering tower that meets specific needs of the interested city (size, aesthetics, location, etc.)
  3. Comment on “Elevated bike path concept to fight congestion” by Pablo Mandiola

The proposed technology does not make cycling safer, as mentioned in your post. In fact, regular bicycles would not be welcomed on the proposed elevated lane network, as it is designed to accommodate electric bikes, scooters and other two-wheelers that BMW manufactures.

While the idea is interesting, if the ultimate goal is to reduce GHG emissions and promote low carbon transportation methods – we should be reducing paved road miles and not increasing them. Rather than building an additional road network, I would propose re-purposing vehicle lanes into bike and public transportation lanes, which would reduce the need and convenience of private vehicles on roads and reduce emissions from transportation.


Breath Brick (2015 R&D Award Innovative Architecture)

Break Brick

  • Sustainability Problem:

Effects of air pollution cause 3.3 million premature deaths each year[1] and majority of household pollutants are due to domestic fire for cooking and/or heating homes. The aforementioned are acquit in developing densely populated cities – Beijing, Manila, Nairobi, Cairo, etc.  Access to air filtration systems are limited to a variety of  issues, but the most common are socio-economic and infrastcture.

Category: Clean Air, Energy Efficiency, Energy Savings, Infrastructure, Innovative, Sustainability


  • Breathe brick is a porous concrete module that forms an air-filtration façade. Pulls in air and separates heavy particles and drops them to collection bin at bottom of the façade. Filter can separate 30% of fine particles and 100% of coarse particles.
  • Simple inexpensive framework, brick and coupler. Coupler are manufactured from recycled materials and can take on most structural forms.  
  • Breathe brick system can operate as active (integrated into existing HVAC system) or passive as independent system.
  • Breath brick is electric free.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 2.17.04 PM Breathebrick03


Organizational Stakeholder:

  • California Polytechnic State University – School of Architecture
  • Homeowner (especially no access to electricity, densely populated cities developing countries, and governments interest in reducing air population)


Next steps for deployment:

  • Waiting for patent approval
  • Refining design to expand to alternative modular forms
  • Regulatory approval in several development nations as sustainable and clean technology product
  • Funding for production



[1] http://www.mpic.de/en/news/press-information/news/more-deaths-due-to-air-pollution.html

Osmotic Power: A new source of clean energy

Sustainability Problem

The impacts of climate change are clearly visible in this day and age. Rising temperatures as a result of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas will only add to this problem.

Sustainable Technology

Researchers have developed a system that generates electricity from osmosis with unparalleled efficiency using seawater, fresh water, and a new type of membrane just 3 atoms thick.  A 1 m² membrane with 30% of its surface covered by nanopores should be able to produce 1MW of electricity. This is enough to power 50,000 standard energy-saving light bulbs.


  • Investors
  • NGO’s
  • Electricity generation companies
  • Government


  1. The effectiveness of this clean energy method has only been implemented on a small scale. The next phase would be to identify potential investors by attending energy efficient conferences.
  2. Identify a electricity generation company that is transition towards the usage of clean energy. Conduct a 6 month trial period during which time staff go the electricity generation company are trained. Provide workshops to further educate the employees in the company.
  3. Once the effectiveness of osmotic power as a means of clean energy is more apparent to the general public, continue to seek out more investors to increase large-scale implementation.



The World’s First Molecular Air Purifier

Sustainability Problem:

Air pollutants are trapped indoors. Poor air quality can cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, congestion and worsen asthma and allergies. Most HEPA filters trap but do not destroy air pollutants such as mold, bacteria, viruses, allergens and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). 


MolekulePhoto Credit: Molekule


Molekule device is billed as the  the world’s first molecular air filter. Using Photoelectrochemical Oxidation (PECO), the air purifier breaks down pollutants extremely quickly and said to destroy them up to 1000 times smaller than what a HEPA filter can. According to Molekule, the company that developed this product, PECO is “a type of oxidation process that works by shining light on an electrochemical cell in order to generate a chemical reaction that break down pollutants”.  

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/molekule-air-purifier-breaks-down-air-pollutants-molecular-level.html


  • Molekule Company, the developer of Molekule Air Purifier
  • general public especially people with asthma and allergies
  • researchers
  • investors


  1. Extensive testing of the product by independent labs to verify that Molekule byproducts are completely harmless elements that normally exist in clean air , and that air pollutants aren’t trapped in the filter ensuring that only clean air is released back into the area.
  2. Public launching of the Molekule with an offering of early bird-price of $499 (future retail price is $799). 
  3. Future price may be too high for the general public. Further research on reducing the cost should be done so this product can be more attractive to the general public.  

Dyneema High-tech fiber



Sustainability Problems:

  1. Heavy airplanes use more fuels and thus emit more carbon dioxide.
  2. Weak cargo nets can break, shift cargo and cause accidents and death.
  3. Weak protection for workers in many industries cause injuries and fatalities.


Dyneema is brand cargo nets made of fabric that is made from fibers of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), 15 times stronger than steel, has longer lifecycle but weighs half as much as polyester cargo net. It floats on water. It does not get heavier when wet so it is easy to handle and thus reduces accidents and injury among ramp workers. The use of Dyneema nets cuts the weight of commercial, cargo and military planes, reduces fuel consumption and reduces carbon dioxide emission by 2.5 tons per year per net. Dyneema working gloves are cut-resistant. Dyneema can stop bullets, pull oil tankers and harness the power of wind. Dyneema ropes and slings for fishing, maritime, mining and forestry industries are very strong and lightweight, and help in to work more efficiently and safely.

It is invisible to UV light and thermal imaging devices, can withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures and has high electrical resistance, is fire resistant and self-extinguishing. Dyneema products are costly. Dyneema has longer lifecycle than polyester nets but its cost is four times as more. Dyneema’s high cost hinders it from being used widely in the markets.


The Economist, http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21584437-high-tech-fabrics-advances-seemingly-mundane-textile-technologies-promise

How Dyneema Works,  http://science.howstuffworks.com/dyneema.htm

Dyneema, http://www.dsm.com/products/dyneema/en_GB/home.html


Airline companies , police and military workers, Industry workers, forestry, mining, marine industries, policymakers


–  Lobbyist and policymakers should try to lower the cost of this material so that more people can have a grip to this technology.  Although it is used by some industries, most people who would buy other much cheaper but weaker brands thus accidents due to breakage of weak ropes and nets could still occur.

– Governments  in developing countries should work with private investors so that poor people in developing countries can avail of the products thereby solving more energy and safety problems that this technology can address. Dyneema should partner with stakeholder industries and try ways to lower the cost of their products.

–  Further research on this product’s design and increased competition should be addressed to lessen the cost of Dyneema products.

Smog Filtering Tower


Article: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/sep/19/worlds-first-smog-filtering-tower-on-tour-daan-roosegaarde-air-pollution


Architect Dan Roosegaarde and nanoparticles expert Bob Ursem created a smog filter that uses ion technology to ingest dirty air,  filter it, and return clean air through vents. The filter is installed in a  7meter high steel tower that can be easily shipped. Initially installed in Rotterdam, expansion plans include Beijing, whose pollution inspired the product’s design. The filter has the capacity to clean 30,000 cubic meters of air in an hour. The air space roughly the size of a football stadium could be filtered in 1.5 days. The tower is also energy efficient running on 14,000 kilowatts of power. In Rotterdam, it is powered by wind and will potentially be powered by solar in other cities.

Sustainability Problem:

Air pollution causes nearly 3 million deaths per year and is expected to get worse, especially in developing countries, if steps to resolve are not addressed. The filtering towers will not solve the problem completely, but it is a good concept to increase awareness of air quality conditions and encourage wider air pollution reduction measures.


  • Governments in cities/countries with poor air quality
  • Citizens in cities/countries with poor air quality
  • NGOs
  • Scientists/Engineers
  • Architects/Urban Planners
  • Investors


  • Initial funds were raised on Kickstarter
  • Plan is to implement in public parks in Beijing with leasing options available to keep costs down
  • Potential expansion to other countries that face air quality concerns such as India
  • Public-Private Partnerships would be key in implementing on larger scale and to help cities with the costs

Other Sources:



Airplane Flies With No Fuel


  • Solar Impulse is the first solar-powered airplane that can fly day and night, powered entirely by the sun. 
  • Thousands of solar cells power its four electric motors with clean renewable energy.  
  • Solar energy is stored in batteries during the day and power the airplane at night. Ten hours of continuous bright sunlight is needed per day in order to charge the batteries and power the plane through the night. 

Sustainability problem:

Airplanes use conventional fuels and emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, thus contributing to global warming. Most airplanes today fly using conventional fuels. 


  • Small  Airline companies
  • Air Force Engineers and Pilots
  • Solar companies
  • Investors


  1.  Test flights were done in order to see the potential of the solar-powered experimental aircraft in flying both days and nights. Solar Impulse is a one-pilot plane and started with day flights before its first night flight in 2010. Inter-continental flights followed in 2012. Solar Impulse made its first cross-country flight in 2013. It started from NASA Ames Research Center in California, and made stops in five states before finally landing at New York’s JFK Airport. The flights took a total of 105 hours and 41 minutes.
  2. On June 20, 2016, the longest day of the year, Solar Impulse 2, a slightly bigger plane with 5,000 more solar panels than SI, make its trans-Atlantic flight to Europe. The flight from New York to Madrid is a continuous ninety-hour trip. 
  3. As of now, Solar Impulse is a one-pilot plane which has proved to fly with clean energy for very long hours. More experiments and further research should be done in order to improve this very exciting technology on a larger scale: as a two-pilot plane, an Air Force plane, a cargo plane, or as a small passenger-carrier plane. It will take many years for it to be on a commercial scale so accelerated research is needed to be done in order to reduce carbon emissions from aircraft. 





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


  • 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








Solution for Chaotic Traffic in Big Cities: The Nanico Car

Problem: Increased traffic on big cities =  increased pollution, fuel demand, chaos

Technology: Nanico Car: electric mini car developed in Sao Paulo, Brazil

  • Zero carbon emissions
  • Rechargeable battery, low maintenance cost – charged within 5 hours using solar batteries.
  • 80km (50miles) max speed, average speed 60km (37miles)
  • Equipped with ABS breaks and airbags (local legislation requirement)
  • Great option for short distances (home-to-work/work-to-home commute)

Technology Stakeholders

  • The Nanico project stakeholders:
    • Engineers and technicians
    • Technological partners
    • Suppliers
  • Government –Subsidy needed
  • Auto dealerships
  • Auto customers (drivers)
  • Motor vehicle agencies
  • Auto service providers: mechanics


  • Investment required to allow company to develop large scale production.
    1. More than 100 car requests existent
  • Cars will use imported Chinese engine and battery – 7,5 kW
  • Brazilian government subsidy needed in order to lower car price
    1. From R$30k to R$20k ($10k to $6k)
  • Nanico to provide solar panel kit to customers for home installation to recharge car
    1. Need to educate consumers how to use it
  • Marketing campaigns to educate potential customers in order to increase market share

Solar Power: Zero Fuel Airplane


Airplanes use a lot of fuel – according to Boeing’s website: “A plane like a Boeing 747 (AKA Jumbo, with about 400 passengers capacity) uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel (about 4 liters) every second.  Over the course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons (150,000 liters). It “burns approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile (12 liters per kilometer).” Demand for traditional fuel is unsustainable long term (non-reusable and pollutant).


Solar Impulse 2  – Zero Fuel Airplane

  • Solar power (clean technology) used to fly airplanes
  • “Real airborne technology lab with virtually endless endurance, capable of crossing oceans and continents by remaining in the air for several days and nights in a row.”
  • Zero fuel airplane
    • 12 years of feasibility study, concept, design and construction
    • 1 prototype (Solar Impulse 1, registered as HB-SIA)
    • 1 final airplane: (Solar Impulse 2, registered as HB-SIB)
  • Challenge:  “fly through 5 consecutive days and nights without using any fuel, so as to cross oceans from one continent to the next.”
    • Previous record: 76 hours non-stop flight
  • Results: New record July 3rd: 120 hours (5 days1)– from Nagoya to Kalaeloa (outside Honolulu)

“A sun-powered airplane has landed in Hawaii after a five-day journey from Japan that smashed the previous record of 76 hours for the longest duration nonstop solo flight.”

Technology Stakeholders

  1. The Solar Impulse project stakeholders:
    • 50 engineers and technicians
    • 80 technological partners
    • More than 100 advisers and suppliers
  1. Aero companies
  2. Airplane customers (travelers)
  3. Airports
  4. Governments
  5. National and International Aviation agencies
  6. Aviation industry employees (pilots/crew)


  1. New technology still being tested – would need to have confirmation that technology is safe and reliable before massive implementation
  2. Once proven to be reliable and safe, stakeholders would need to adopt use of new techonology
  3. Subsidizing could decrease costs involved in adopting clean energy
  4. Massive manufacturing could also help to lower costs
  5. Marketing to educate customers on new techonology in order to ensure adoption/usage
  6. Massive implementation of solar energy fueled airplanes on domestic/international flights

Sources: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/03/419812971/pilot-in-solar-powered-plane-sets-aviation-record