Communicating without Internet Access Using Mesh Networks

1. Sustainability problem: Communications without internet access

Having an internet connection is key for communication these days. However, natural disasters can disrupt existing internet connection and many places don’t have reliable and wide-spread internet coverage to begin with. Furthermore, some people simply cannot afford to connect to the internet.

Category: Safety and Health 

2. Technology summary

Source: “Bridgefy lets developers build mesh networks into their apps”, Techcrunch (https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/18/bridgefy-lets-developers-build-mesh-networking-into-their-apps/)

  • This article discusses Bridgefy, a company that created a software development kit (SDK) for developers to integrate mesh networking capabilities into their iOS and Android apps
  • The mesh networking functionality allows smartphones to communicate even when there’s no access to the internet by creating a network of phones connected by Bluetooth
  • Phones can communicate directly with each other (across a distance of no more than 330 ft) or with phones further away as long as they are indirectly connected through other Bluetooth-enabled phones
  • Other companies, such as Open Garden, have tried to do similar things but have had difficulties making the technology work seamlessly
  • This technology has many use cases, ranging from disaster relief efforts and providing arriving refugees with connectivity to enabling education applications

Tags: #smartcommunication #internet #meshnetworks #bluetooth

3. Organizational stakeholders

As mentioned, there are many different use cases and, therefore, stakeholders for this technology. Across the board, developers are the key stakeholders as they need to use Bridgefy’s SDK to build or update their apps. Next, users of apps that include Bridgefy’s functionality need to be made aware of the mesh network functionality so that they use the relevant apps, enable Bluetooth, and allow the network to form. Depending on the type of app the specific stakeholders will vary, but this could include civilians/individuals, government officials, hospital employees, etc.

4. Technology deployment

Early deployment has to focus on a) making sure the technology works seamlessly from a technical perspective and b) creating a large enough mesh network for the technology to work from a practical perspective.

  1. Educate the public about the mesh network functionality of the app and its reliance on Bluetooth (the mesh network has more value when more people enable Bluetooth and use apps using this feature)
  2. Partner with app developers/companies that already have a large network of users and provide them with the feature at a discounted price, e.g., Uber (the company has a broad network within cities and has a use case for this technology, e.g., when users are traveling abroad and want to use the app but don’t have access to internet)
  3. Work with / advocate for hardware providers to improve their Bluetooth technology

5. Comment on another post

I commented on “Truck Platooning” (DCT2131)

This platooning technology has implications beyond the trucking industry. These connected vehicles also collect data on the road and traffic conditions that can be shared with other connected cars and the government to improve safety and traffic more generally.

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/11/23/truck-platooning/comment-page-1/#comment-1460

 

 

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Creating an IoT Network of Distributed Loads through EV Charging Stations

1. Sustainability problem: the contribution of the electric sector to climate change

Climate change is one of the most urgent issues of our time. The electric sector is a key culprit in driving this path as the economic sector contributing more to climate change than any other sector in the U.S. More specifically, the sector accounts for approximately 30% of the U.S. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Decarbonizing the electricity sector, while also making the aging power grid more modern, smart, and resilient is a prime challenge and opportunity.

Category: Energy

Source: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-04/documents/us-ghg-inventory-2016-main-text.pdf

2. Technology: IoT network of distributed loads through EV charging stations

Source: “eMotorWerks Acquired By Enel”, Clean Technica (https://cleantechnica.com/2017/10/26/emotorwerks-acquired-enel/)

  • This article discusses a growth company called eMotorWerks, which provides electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSEs) – a.k.a. charging stations — and aggregates these distributed loads into an IoT platform called JuiceNet
  • The technology not only allows for the chargers to be remotely controlled and charge EVs at the most cost effective times, but it also connects all of the EVSEs into a network of storage capacity that can respond to information from the grid and provide demand response services to utilities
  • For EV owners, using eMotorWerks’ solution can lower the cost of ownership as participation in demand response can provide them with additional revenue streams
  • This kind of demand response platform will be increasingly valuable in balancing the grid as more intermittent renewable energy enters the system
  • The platform also helps create a more resilient and distributed grid and system of resources

Tags: #energy #renewableenergy #ev #evse #demandresponse #smartgrid

3. Organizational stakeholders

This technology has a variety of different stakeholders. Residential EV owners can buy eMotorWerks’ EVSEs for their own homes. Commercial owners of EV fleets and/or charging infrastructure can also buy these EVSEs, use the software, and participate in the platform. Another key stakeholder is the utility, which can take advantage of the demand response services provided by the JuiceNet charging network. Last, other OEMs are stakeholders because eMotorWerks’ technology can be used in white-label deals.

4. Deployment

  1. Integrate eMotorWerks’ solution with Enel (utility that just acquired them) to maximize the value of the demand management services
  2. Continue forging relationships with OEMs to grow the size of the network
  3. Build stronger relationships with potential commercial customers to ensure wide public availability of charging infrastructure

5. Comment on other post

I commented on “Clean Meat and the Future of Food”

The clean meat industry has already received quite a bit of attention from established investors. Memphis Meat has raised $22 M from investors including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Cargill (agriculture firm), DFJ (VC firm), and other VC firms and angel investors. These investments have been attracted by the potential that this technology has to disrupt the trillion-dollar meat industry which will only grow as emerging markets develop and consume more meat.

New Textile Technology Makes Leather Alternative From Discarded Pineapple Leaves

1. Sustainability problem: leather production

The textile industry produces a lot of leather. The production of leather is extremely resource-intensive (water, land, food, fuel) and produces large amounts of waste, including toxic chemicals used in tanning. Faux leather (e.g., made from PVC) is another prevalent material and is not a sustainable material either as its production and disposal release a lot of toxic materials into the environment.

Category: Waste

2. Technology Summary

Source: “63-Year-Old Designer Creates Faux Leather From Pineapple Leaves”, Greenmatters (http://www.greenmatters.com/living/2017/10/19/Z1Y0sHm/63-year-old-designer-creates-faux-leather-from-pineapple-leaves)

  • This article discusses a materials technology innovation called Piñatex, which is a material made from discarded pineapple leaves and serves as an alternative to leather and faux leather
  • As pineapple leaves are a crop by-product, creating the material is not resource intensive, requiring no additional water, land, fertilizer, or fuel to make the material
  • Sourcing pineapple leaves from pineapple farmers also provides these farmers with an additional revenue stream
  • The resulting material can be mass-produced and used for virtually everything that leather could be used for, including apparel, shoes, bags, car seats, and upholstery
  • This material is produced in a closed loop process, starting with sourcing the pineapple leaves directly from farmers, returning any waste products during production to pineapple farms to be used as fertilizer, and composting piñatex materials at the end of a product’s life

Tags: #textiles #materialsresearch #fashion #sustainability #closingtheloop #cradletocradle

3. Stakeholders

Piñatex is currently only distributed in a brand-to-brand (B2B) format. Therefore, the key stakeholders are companies that currently design products with leather or faux leather. Specifically, design teams would need to learn about the material and design with this material in mind.

End customers are another stakeholder as they could drive demand for this material, asking companies to include this material in their collections in the future.

4. Deployment Strategy

  1. Proactively send samples to key companies that design with leather and/or faux leather and have sustainability goals, e.g., Eileen Fisher (fashion), Veja (shoes), Matt and Nat (bags), Tesla (car seats), etc.
  2. Build relationships with fabric retailers in cities with large fashion industries (e.g., New York City, Los Angeles, London, Berlin, etc.)
  3. Explore partnering with pineapple farmers in other parts of the world to increase production and reduce the carbon footprint for customers in other parts of the world (other top pineapple producing nations are Costa Rica and Brazil)

5. Comment on Another Post

I commented on “Sensor-Packed Pedestrian Crossing”

The article also discusses how this sensor-based crossing is envisioned to be integrated into the road. A responsive, sensor-based surface made of steel would be integrated under the regular road surface. On the top of these two layers of the road would be the LED lights, covered in a high-impact plastic to prevent damage from vehicles and weather.

 

CO2-Capturing Nanomaterials

1. Sustainability Problem: Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has been rising rapidly. After five years of growth rates exceeding 2 parts per million (ppm), the atmosphere now contains over 400 ppm of CO2. This explosive growth makes it decreasingly likely that climate change targets can be met.

Category: Waste

Sources:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-hits-record-levels/

https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/24/

2. Technology: NanoCO2 Harvesters

Source: “3 ways nanomaterials can combat pollution”, Greenbiz (https://www.greenbiz.com/article/3-ways-nanomaterials-can-combat-pollution)

  • This article discusses the use of nanomaterials – materials composed of particles thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair – to clean up the environment
  • Specifically, nanoCO2 harvesters are nanomaterials that can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it into useful products
  • For example, scientists developed a nanoCO2 harvester that uses water and sunlight to transform CO2 into methanol, which can be used for a range of purposes, e.g., as engine fuel
  • The main issue to solve at this moment is making the nanoparticles economically viable
  • Other applications for nanomaterials exist and include using them to clean up water by absorbing and converting pollutants such as dyes and heavy metals or to accelerate anaerobic digestion for transforming organic waste into biogas fuel and solids

Tags: #sustainability #climatechange #co2 #nanomaterials #pollution

3. Stakeholders

The key stakeholders for the nanoCO2 harvesters would be industrial facilities managers. They would have to be convinced that using these nanomaterials is superior to using current pollution management processes and to switch over to this new technology.

Regulators are also stakeholders because they need to understand how this material behaves and affects the environment and health. If the material is safe, they could work on making the use of this material mandatory for the production of certain materials.

4. Technology Deployment

  1. Commission and analyze studies to test for the effect these nanomaterials have on the environment and health
  2. Build relationships with facilities managers and regulators
  3. Set up pilot programs with a few facilities

5. Comment on Another Post

I commented on “Circular Mushroom based products”

A TED talk on this technology made the additional point that this production technique supports local and distributed manufacturing. The agricultural waste to which the mycelium is added can vary depending on where production takes place and which agricultural waste is prevalent there. This simplifies the supply chain of creating the material and reduces the carbon footprint associated with securing and transporting the necessary inputs.

Source: https://www.ted.com/talks/eben_bayer_are_mushrooms_the_new_plastic?language=en#t-326671

 

Data-Driven Reverse Logistics Can Save Waste and GHG Emissions

1. Sustainability Problem: Increasing amounts of retail good returned lead to high amounts of waste and GHG emissions

Category: Waste

With e-commerce on the rise, the number of goods that get returned by customers is an increasing problem — for e-commerce return rates are ~10-20%. The problem is not just that the retailers incur vast financial losses but also are responsible for substantial amounts of waste and a large carbon footprint from inefficient transportation with multiple touch points. The process of taking back returned products (a process called reverse logistics) has traditionally been unsophisticated and even today, the aggregate goods returned result in 4 B pounds of waste going to the landfill and 11 M metric tons of carbon emissions entering the atmosphere.

Source: http://www.optoro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Optoro-Whitepaper6-9-2016.pdf

2. Technology: Reverse Logistics Management System by Optoro

Article: “Optoro Is Building A Billion-Dollar Business Helping Companies Cope With A Glut Of Rejected Stuff”, Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2017/09/26/optoro-is-building-a-billion-dollar-business-helping-companies-cope-with-a-glut-of-rejected-stuff/#2c799bc81a8c)

  • This article discusses a startup called Optoro, which provides a reverse logistics management system to retailers as a subscription service
  • The technology scans returned and overstock goods for the retailers and efficiently directs the goods to their most suitable path and optimizes the route for the products to reach their final destination
  • Optoro’s technology reduces waste created by up to 60% and carbon emissions resulting from fuel for transportation up to 31% according to a model built by the Environmental Capital Group
  • Instead of ending up in the landfill, Optoro redirects goods to retailer shelves, manufacturers, discount-goods websites for consumers, recycling centers, or charities

Other source: http://www.optoro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Optoro-Whitepaper6-9-2016.pdf

Tags: #waste #retail #logistics #reverselogistics #ecommerce #sustainability

3. Organizational stakeholders

On the one hand, the technology would be used by retailers. The logistics departments of retailers would have to adopt the reverse logistics management system so that returned and overstock goods go directly to Optoro’s warehouse.

On the other hand, end customers would also be stakeholders for the system because many of the goods end up being sold through discount-goods websites also run by Optoro. Making customers aware of these options will also be valuable to the success of the technology and company.

4. Deployment

The technology has already been deployed to a certain extent with Optoro having secured 30 clients so far. However, an issue in raising awareness regarding the success of the solution seems to be that clients don’t want to reveal that they’re using this solution, even though it has such significant financial AND environmental benefits. Therefore, to further scale the technology, I would focus on raising awareness with the following 3 steps:

  • Work with a consultant or provider of certifications to explore the possibility of creating a sustainability certification/stamp of approval for retailers using this solution openly
  • Conduct study with customers on their perception of retailers using this solutions and see if the data reveals that this is in fact seen as a positive aspect of a brand, rather than a negative aspect
  • Use data and certification/endorsement to talk to more retail clients and encourage them to disclose their use of Optoro technology

5. Comment on Another Post

I commented on “Highway of the Future”:

The sustainable highway is also supposed to improve the response to accidents using autonomous drones flying over the highways. I wonder at what scale and thus cost you’d have to deploy these drones for them to make responses to accidents quicker than they already are.

 

Improving access to medical supplies with drones

 

Source: BBC

 

1. Sustainability Problem: Access to Medical Supplies

The lack of access to essential medical products is an important health and sustainability issue. Many people, especially those living in countries with less developed infrastructure, struggle to receive the health supplies they need, whether that’s blood, vaccines, or medication. Over 5 million children die per year because of this (http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-40935773).

Category: Health

2. Technology: Zipline Drone Delivery Hardware and Software

Source: “Blood-delivering drone company Zipline readies for launch in Tanzania”, The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/24/16195442/zipline-zip-blood-medical-delivery-drones-rwanda-tanzania-keller-rinaudo

  • This article discusses Zipline, a U.S.-based technology company that provides drone delivery services for medical products
  • Zipline builds the both the drones and the software that allows doctors to order the medical supplies and dispatches and delivers the supplies to them
  • Zipline currently operates in Rwanda (as of 2016) and is expanding to Tanzania in 2018
  • The company is trying to build a network of centralized distribution centers from which the drones should be able to reach any customer in the country within 30 minutes as opposed to the hours it would take to deliver the medical supplies through traditional means
  • The technology also helps reduce waste because all the small medical facilities don’t have to stock all the supplies they could possibly need anymore and instead can order the ones they need on demand

Tags: #health #access #sustainability #drones

3. Organizational Stakeholders

The technology’s main stakeholders are health professionals like doctors and medical staff. They will be the ones to order the medical supplies, which they can do through their mobile phones. The drone will then drop the supplies off right at their facilities. Another stakeholder is the government of the countries in which Zipline operates because the company needs favorable drone regulation to operate and is trying to get the government to pay for deliveries.

4. Deployment Plan

This technology has already been deployed in one country (Rwanda). The deployment strategy will focus on deploying it in other countries.

  1. Build relationships with governments to demonstrate the technology’s benefits and get government buy-in
  2. Build relationships with medical facilities/doctors/medical staff to educate them about the service and demonstrate its use
  3. Build distribution centers for the drones and medical supplies

5. Comment on Another Blog Post

I commented the following on the Orbital Systems post on the closed loop shower:

An exciting part of the technology is that the system actually makes the recycled water cleaner than the water that initially enters the shower through the water supply. The shower makes sure to eject the 5 liters of water after each shower so that you don’t have to shower “in someone else’s water”, but if it’s the case that the water ends up being even cleaner after recycling it compared to the new water, this shower could have a much greater impact by not ejecting the water after each shower. I also wonder what the limits to recycling the same water over and over again are and whether this has something to do with this.

Making Nylon from Solar Energy

Solar Nylon Image

Source: https://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/solar-textiles-award-em5987/

1. Identify a sustainability problem: Large-scale, unsustainable nylon production

Category: Energy

The fashion industry, especially the fast fashion segment of the industry, widely uses nylon (6 million tons/year). Nylon production is highly unsustainable as it’s a very energy-intensive process based on petroleum. In fact, nylon scores worse on the Higg Materials Sustainability Index than 79% of other fabric types. With growing demand for nylon, there’s a need to reduce the negative impacts nylon production has on the environment.

2. Technology: Solar Nylon

Article: “Tandon Professor Earns Award for Eco-Friendly Textile Manufacturing”, Washington Square News (https://www.nyunews.com/2017/04/11/tandon-professor-earns-award-for-eco-friendly-textile-manufacturing/)

  • The article discusses a technology developed by an NYU professor called “solar nylon”, which harnesses the sun’s energy to create a textile similar to traditional fossil fuel-based nylon
  • The technology uses solar energy, plant waste and water to produce the fabric and the process is akin to that used to create solar fuels
  • The cost of production of this nylon alternative is expected to be “inexpensive” or at least not more expensive than current nylon production
  • Not only does the textile use less energy and release less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere due to its renewable energy source, it also has the ability to directly absorb CO2
  • The technology is still in its early stages and can only produce 1 kg of textile per day, so scaling of production is a large focus point going forward

I also used the following source: “Solar Textiles Project Wins Global Change Award”, Energy Matters (https://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/solar-textiles-award-em5987/)

Tags: #solarenergy #sustainablefashion #sustainablemanufacturing #sustainability #sustainabletechnology #cleantech

3. Organizational stakeholders who will use the technology

There are two main “users” for this technology. At the production level, textile manufacturers would be the ones to use this technology, as they’d create the solar nylon out of its raw materials at their facilities. High-level manufacturing managers at these manufacturing facilities would have to be won over to integrate this technology, but manufacturing workers would be the ones to actually use the technology.

Additionally, buyers of nylon (e.g., apparel companies) would also be users of this technology. The design team of such a company would have to know about the textile to design their products with this fabric in mind, the sourcing team would have to procure this textile, and then their manufacturing facilities would actually create the products out of the solar nylon.

4. Three steps in deploying this technology

The deployment strategy depends on whether the creators of the technology want to sell the technology to existing nylon producers or set up their own company to produce the solar nylon themselves and sell to buyers directly. For the former strategy, they’d need to take the following steps.

  1. Conduct further lab work to scale up production of the material
  2. Educate nylon fiber producers on the technology (costs and benefits) in the hopes of eventually selling to them directly
  3. Educate buyers of nylon on the technology in the hopes of them pressuring their suppliers to produce solar nylon for them

If the creators wanted to produce the textiles themselves, steps to deploying the technology would be:

  1. Conduct further lab work to scale up production of the material
  2. Build relationships with and educate buyers of nylon (e.g., apparel companies) on the technology (costs and benefits)
  3. Set up the first manufacturing facility for producing solar nylon in bulk to sell to nylon buyers