Biofuel from Coffee Grounds


  1. Sustainability Issue (Energy and Waste):

Our demand for fuel is constant and unfortunately, there is not enough supply for our growing needs. Additionally, the pollution that vehicles emit using fuel further harms our environment. While we are depleting our limited resources, we are also continuing to generate more and more waste, including organic matters that not only take up landfill space but also produce environmentally harmful methane.


  1. Summary of Technology (Biofuel from coffee grounds):
  • Technology collects waste coffee grounds from restaurants, factories, cafes, etc and keeps them out of landfill
  • Allows for a coffee-based biofuel that can be used to run London’s diesel buses
  • Can also be used to create coffee logs for fireplaces and stoves in place of wooden logs
  • Waste coffee grounds as biofuel is cheap, abundant and environmentally friendly since new technology allows for this process to happen in less time and with less money
  • Coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world’s fuel supply



  1. Stakeholders 
    • Energy developers
    • Transportation companies
    • Local governments
    • Public transportation users


  1. Next Steps
  • Collect information and data from London buses that use coffee grounds biofuel and create a model based on the successes
  • Implement a pilot program in a big city in the US (ie. MTA buses in NYC)
  • Based on the availability of resources, either expand to other uses (ie. diesel trucks) or refine current program if resources aren’t enough

UNI – LC3291
Fall 2017 – Week 10


Comment on Smart Parking Meters:

This technology has already been implemented in certain cities like San Francisco and has been pretty well received by the public. I think the biggest pro in this technology is the ability to eliminate the wandering driving that contributes to pollution in search of an open park spot. However, for extremely busy cities like New York City, I wonder if there could be an issue where a driver is driving to an open spot along with 5 other drivers. The positive side of this is that smart technology can be adaptable and therefore, if this becomes an issue, potential solutions can be tested and implemented quickly if successful.


Floating Nuclear Power Plant


  1. Sustainability Issue (Energy):

Energy has always been an environmental concern because not only do we have to be able to provide energy, and preferably continuously, in our growing world, but we also have to make sure it is done in the least environmentally harmful way. There are many pros about using nuclear power plant to provide energy, but it can be difficult to find a place to develop a nuclear power plant because of all the risks associated with it.


  1. Summary of Technology (Floating Nuclear Power Plant):
  • A floating nuclear power plant, located on a platform at sea, can provide electricity and heat to areas with limited power access
  • A nuclear power plan is highly flexible – able to be constructed anywhere and moved relatively easily – providing significant advantages over on-land plants
  • It can also provide drinking water to dry areas via desalination techniques
  • Floating nuclear power plants built on platform on an area with a depth of at least 100 meters can use sea as a constant cooling source
  • Being at sea also allows the sea water to absorb movements of the sea floor and protect the plant from earthquakes and tsunamis



  1. Stakeholders 
    • Energy developers
    • Government / energy regulators
    • Utility companies


  1. Next Steps
  • Review development and construction costs outside the U.S. to determine whether construction is cost feasible
  • Review existing U.S. regulations to determine what changes need to made (if any) to accommodate floating plants
  • Develop preliminary construction and design plans and present to the appropriate regulator for initial permitting


UNI – LC3291
Fall 2017 – Week 9


Comment to Disaster Recovery & Rural Communication Challenges (

This sounds like a really interesting technology – as we become more and more dependent upon the information made available to us through smartphones, the sudden loss of that connectivity can be devastating, particularly in disaster scenarios. In rural areas and developing areas, I would agree that there is a massive market for this technology and smartphone penetration globally is high and growing despite the relatively high cost of cell phones.


HY4 to Change the Way We Travel (Sustainably)

  1. Sustainability Issue (Energy, Pollution):

Transportation consumes a lot of fuel and contributes to pollution and environmental harm. While all means of transportation contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, frequently flying can significantly increase your personal carbon footprint. According to CNN, “a flight from London to New York generates roughly as much emissions per person as the average European generates by heating their home for a whole year.”

  1. Summary of Technology (HY4):


  • HY4 is a zero-emission plane that is powered solely by a hydrogen fuel cell system and electric propulsion, with a battery to provide extra power during takeoff
  • The only emission generated by this plane is water
  • The plan is that HY4 could be used in regional transport such as electric air taxis, which would offer a faster alternative than driving, bus, or train.
  • Estimated that city to city travel in such planes could be commonplace in the next 20 years, with extension to large capacity, long haul flights within 50 years


  1. Stakeholders

Key stakeholders include:

  • Air travelers
  • Airlines
  • Aviation regulators
  1. Next Steps
  • Continue to demonstrate proof of concept with long range flights of existing plane
  • Continue development work on larger capacity aircraft
  • Explore extent to which hydrogen fuel cells can be incorporated into existing engine structure as an interim step to reduce emissions from passenger planes
  1. Comment on “How about use waste to build green artificial islands?”

This seems like a very interesting idea, though I would be interested to see a cost comparison between this proposal and the existing disposal methods. I fear the construction costs, particularly the underwater infrastructure to prevent leakage into the New York harbor, would exceed existing disposal costs. I also wonder how the compositing facilities (which can at times give off strong odors) would be integrated into the green space.


UNI – LC3291
Fall 2017 – Week 6



Project Loon to Provide Internet!


  1. Sustainability Issue (Civic Engagement):

Despite the advance technology we have today, more than half of the world’s population still does not have access to internet. This makes it incredibly difficult for the underdeveloped or developing countries to advance or compete with the rest of the world that do have access to the powerful tool of internet. Furthermore, these areas are often overlooked by telecommunication companies, who don’t find it worthwhile to build cell towers or other infrastructure in certain areas.

In addition to areas that don’t have the infrastructure for internet, there have also been a lot of natural disasters that have damaged cell towers and affected people’s abilities to recover from the events. Recovering from these events is not only costly but also requires a lot of resources.

  1. Summary of Technology (Project Loon):
  • Project Loon is a balloon that can float over areas and provide internet access and telecommunications to those areas without needing to build cell towers or invest in infrastructure
  • Project Loon is highly energy-efficient and is powered entirely by renewable energy with solar panels powering daytime operations and charging a battery to be used at night
  • Project Loon can also help in areas that already have internet. There are areas that lose signals because of hills or buildings, and instead of building infrastructure in very specific areas to combat that issue, Project Loon can help fill in those dead spots
  • Natural disasters like Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico and damaged its telecommunications can use Project Loon to help with their recovery efforts
  • Loon have a shorter lifespan, which is sometimes advantageous because you can easily update and integrate new technologies into new models



  1. Stakeholders 

Key stakeholders include:

  • Telecommunications companies (e.g., Verizon, AT&T)
  • Mobile internet users
  • Federal Communications Commission
  1. Next Steps
  • Run a number of beta tests in underserved cell areas to create product buzz
  • Continue to improve design to cover a wider area with one balloon
  • Seek to obtain government financing for Loons in one key market as a test market
  1. Comment on article:
    This is a very interesting and cool concept! I wonder if this technology could be applied to above ground traffic as well to further ease traffic and remove any driving errors or driving patterns that cause traffic. Obviously it couldn’t go as fast above ground, but if people are not blocking roads and if there are fewer accidents, that would help immensely.


UNI – LC3291
Fall 2017 – Week 5


Longer Lasting Produce!


  1. Sustainability Issue (Waste):

Over 30% of produce harvested is never consumed and every year, almost $30 billion worth, or 25 billion pounds, of fruits and vegetables are wasted. This happens even though there are about 42 million people who don’t have enough to eat in just the U.S. alone. Wasted produce also means that all the time, energy, money, and water put into cultivating it is also wasted. However, it is hard to avoid this problem because there are so many steps between the growth and consumption of produce.


  1. Summary of Technology (Hazel Technologies):
  • FruitBrite and BerryBrite are essentially biodegradable and non-toxic packaging inserts that fit into fruit containers and emit ingredients to keep produce from spoiling without having to spray on any additional chemicals
  • The inserts allow the produce to last longer, which also means that the produce can have a greater range of area where they can be transported to and sold in before spoiling
  • FruitBrite is a time-release sachet that contains an ethylene blocker (ethylene is the gas given off by some fruits that speed up the ripening process)
  • FruitBrite can extend produce’s lifespan by 2-3 weeks and has been tested on various produces including apples, asparagus, broccoli, cherries, tomatoes, etc.
  • BerryBrite delivers controlled dose of a blend of natural essential oils that inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi, and molds in berries
  • BerryBrite extends the shelf life of berries by up to 3x, reduces disease and rot by up to 90%, and improves post-harvest firmness by up to 2x



  1. Stakeholders 
  •  Farmers
  • Supermarkets
  • Produce transportation companies
  • End consumers


  1. Next Steps
  • Work with large farms to incorporate FruitBrite and BerryBrite into their packaging product that can be used to store fruit and produce after picking
  • After driving adoption by farmers, introduce to supermarkets to be used for backroom storage
  • Once adopted by both farmers and supermarkets, introduce to transport companies as a way to provide farm to store consistency in packaging and storage


UNI – LC3291
Fall 2017 – Week 4


Tree T-Pee

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  1. Sustainability Issue (Water):

Declining availability of fresh water, one of the fundamental necessities in life, is becoming an increasing problem everyday. We simply cannot keep up with growing demand for fresh water, and the consequences are evident. Aquifers, which we rely on to supplement freshwater from surface water, are being drained at unsustainable rates. Because “agriculture is the leading use of water in the U.S. and around the world,” the lack of water from aquifers, in addition to the drought that certain areas face, is especially significant to farmers and their crop production. Correspondingly, limiting the amount of water used in agriculture without harming crop yields could have an enormous impact on global fresh water usage.

More information on aquifer depletion:

  1. Summary of Technology (tree T-PEE):


  • Made of 100% recycled plastic, tree T-PEE is a cone shaped, water and nutrient containment system that allows water to be directed to the tree and allows for 90% less water needed
  • Originally made to protect against frost, the cone also raises temperatures 12 degrees by containing the warm well water that typically measures 72 degrees
  • Promotes deep root growth and rapid canopy development because the water is contained around each tree
  • Increase growth rates of up to 30%, causing fruit to grow faster
  • Also provides efficient use of fertilizers (can use 75% less than normal requirements) because it is being concentrated on the tree and not being wasted on weeds and grass
  • Another added bonus is critter control since the cone will prevent animals from eating and killing young trees


  1. Stakeholders 
    • Farmers
    • Water Utilities
    • Sprinkler System Installers
  1. Next Steps
  • Sponsor a comparative water use study whereby (i) a control group of farmers water a certain number of trees as needed and (ii) a test group water the same numbers of trees producing the same fruit using the tree T-PEE, then test at the end of study to compare cumulative water use and fruit quality
  • Identify the top 10-20 water-scare farming regions
  • Seek distribution contracts with farm products distributors in those regions


UNI – LC3291
Fall 2017 – Week 3


Graphene Sieve to Solve Water Crisis?

  1. Sustainability problem (Water and Energy):

As climate change continues to affect our environment, sea levels will increase while clean water will become scarcer. According to MIT researchers, “more than half the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas and about a billion or more will not have sufficient water resources.” The current desalination methods of distillation through thermal energy or filtration using polymer-based membranes involve large energy expenditures and produces greenhouse gases.

(more information about water stress can be found here:

2. Graphene Sieve can help the problem:

  • Graphene sieve would use less energy than the current methods of desalination
  • Graphene sieve can filter salt out of seawater and provide drinking water to millions of people
  • Water treatment through separating water from other pollutants and ion is proposed as an energy-efficient solution to the freshwater crisis
  • While desalination using membranes is not a new method, it is currently inefficient and expensive whereas grapheme sieve would provide a quicker, cheaper, and easier alternative
  • More tests and experiments need to be done to evaluate the durability of the material



  1. Stakeholders:
    • Local and state governments
    • Water utilities
    • Desalination plants
  1. Next Steps:
    • Research and create a prototype of the graphene sieve to test in seawater and measure its results over time
    • Determine global production capacity of Graphene and cost per unit compared with other alternatives
    • Seek to partner with an environmentally-conscious desalination facility for an initial commercial test (and related publicity)

Columbia UNI: Lc3291




Edible Spoons??

  1. Sustainability problem (Primarily Waste, but also addresses Water and Health):

It is no surprise that we generate a lot of waste in this day and age. Of that waste, “40 million tons of reusable plastic cutlery get thrown out every year, most of them after a single use.” It also takes a long time for plastic to break down (up to 1,000 years) and plastic has been found to contain toxins that pose risks to the environment and to humans.

(more information about plastic about be found here:

  1. Edible Cutlery can help the problem:
    • Bakey’s Edible Cutlery can help achieve zero waste by eliminating plastic cutlery
    • If you don’t want to eat it, the product can degrade naturally in less than 3 days
    • No exposure to toxins associated with plastics since the edible cutlery is 100% natural made of flour with no added chemicals or preservatives
    • Product is made of millets, which will encourage farmers to grow this crop instead of rice, which consumes 60 times more water than millets


  1. Stakeholders:
    • All restaurants, but especially fast food/fast casual restaurants where plastic cutlery is more common
    • General consumers
  1. Next Steps:
    • Establish a trial group of sustainability-conscious restaurants willing to replace plastic cutlery with Bakey’s for a limited amount of time
    • When successful, use case study to convert additional restaurants into Bakey’s users
    • After establishing a degree of product recognition by consumers, improve website to better tell the company’s story and explain the benefits of edible cutlery

Columbia UNI: Lc3291