The Reusable Rocket


1) Sustainability Area: Resource saving and lower cost space business


The space shuttle was reusable but proved to be so time-consuming and expensive to turn around between flights that the projected cost savings were never realized.

For nearly 60 years, the spaceflight industry has survived despite following a business model that would quickly put any other company under.

The aerospace industry runs on rockets, which cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to build and launch, and then can only be flown once. They literally crash and burn and all that money goes up in smoke.

After a rocket has fulfilled its mission, most of it will fall back to Earth, land in the ocean, and sink to the seafloor, never to be seen again.

e new reusable rockets, developed by SpaceX, which is privately owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, are already the cheapest in the industry.

It could drop the price by an order of magnitude, sparking more space-based enterprise, which in turn would drop the cost of access to space still further through economies of scale.

Driving this need for reusability is the fact that SpaceX is a privately-owned company. It cannot rely on an endless budget like the government-run space agencies that dominated the aerospace industry throughout the last half of the 20th century.

2) Technology/Deployment

  •  The company, SpaceX, is developing the technologies over a number of years to facilitate full and rapid reusability of space launch vehicles.
  • The project’s long-term objectives include returning a launch vehicle first stage to the launch site in minutes and to return a second stage to the launch pad following orbital realignment with the launch site and atmospheric reentry in up to 24 hours.
  • SpaceX’s long term goal is that both stages of their orbital launch vehicle will be designed to allow reuse a few hours after return.
  • The reusable launch system technology was developed and initially used for the first stages of the Falcon family of rockets.
  • After stage separation, the return process involves flipping the booster around, an optional boostback burn to reverse its course, a reentry burn, controlling direction to arrive at the landing site and a landing burn to affect the final low-altitude deceleration and touchdown.
  • SpaceX is intending to develop technology to extend reusable flight hardware to second stages, a more challenging engineering problem because the vehicle is travelling at orbital velocity.
  • In 2016, the company shot off a rocket and brought it back by gently, precisely landing it upright on a drone ship bobbing on the ocean.
  • In March, 2017Tonight, it did it all over again with the same booster, same cheekily-named drone ship (Of Course I Still Love You). It was the first time for any commercial space company that as attempted to reuse a rocket to send something into orbit.

3) Stakeholders:

  • Space business industry both in public and private
  • IT business industry
  • Investors


<Comment on You Can’t Spell ‘Carbon Nanotube Electricity’ Without ‘Yarn’>

To do harvest created electricity, it is needed to be dunked the whole thing in water with dissolved ions so that it would ferry the charges to nearby electrodes. However, having to keep the yarn submerged in an ionic solution the whole time it is operating is obviously of an inconvenience, unless the place you’re looking to harvest energy from is one giant ionic liquid. Then, research team made a salt solution that mimicked the concentration found in the ocean. Then, they put a length of yarn between a weight and a float, and dumped it into the ocean off South Korea. As waves rolled through, the device generated electricity, though it required a platinum electrode, given the corrosive nature of seawater.



Fall 2017 – Week 8




How policy can encourage sustainable products consumption…Japan case


1) Sustainability Area: Policy

Problem: Stagnating economy and promoting sustainable products consumption

Although the system already ended in 2012, I think it worth introducing how a policy can promote sustainability by encouraging consumers to buy more sustainable technology products. It was called “eco-points” program in Japan.

Japan started the “eco-points” program in June 2009, as part of measures aimed to keep the economy from collapsing in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008. The program offered points for buying energy-efficient products. Those points could then be redeemed for other goods and services.

2) Technology

 Applicable green electrical appliance is refrigerator, air conditioner and digital TV which save more energy than conventional products. They must be scored and accredited as “eco-appliance” through applicable organization.

 3) Deployment

  • After purchasing an energy-efficient appliance or TV, a consumer received from the government eco-points worth 5-10% of the value of the purchase – with each eco-point worth ¥1.
  • The consumer then redeemed these points for a variety of 271 so-called green goods and services listed in a catalog sponsored by the government. These ranged from travel to hamburgers.
  • Eco-points could also be redeemed for gift certificates for family and friends. Indeed, 85% of redemptions were eventually gifts.



  • Policy makers
  • Electrical appliance manufacturer
  • Electrical appliance retail shops
  • Consumer

Issue to be discussed: 

  • Every applicable electrical appliance is a large-sized item like refrigerator and TV, and environmental burden occurs when transporting, discarding or recycling them. The eco-point program does not mention the environmental cost derived from these process.
  • Moreover, considering the consumption decline after the end, it can be said that it invited just “eating ahead of consumption”.


By Daisuke Wakabayashi, The Wall Street Journal, “Japan Seeks an ‘Eco-Points’ Boost”, Aug. 31, 2010, retrieved on Nov. 14th, 2017 from:

By Philip Jessup, “Japan’s Eco-point Program transforms market for LED lamps (MAGAZINE)”,  Jul. 18, 2011, retrieved from:

<Comment on Plastic Bottle Concrete>

The students learned that others have tried to introduce plastic into cement mixtures, but the plastic weakened the resulting concrete. Investigating further, they found evidence that exposing plastic to doses of gamma radiation makes the material’s crystalline structure change in a way that the plastic becomes stronger, stiffer, and tougher.


Fall 2017 – Week 9


Drones to unleash vaccine-laced pellets to save endangered ferrets


1) Sustainability Area:

Problem: Endangered Species Protection

Only 300 black-footed ferrets – North America’s only native ferret –  remain in the US across a handful of isolated sites. The species was briefly thought to be extinct in 1981, only for a number of animals to be brought into captivity for breeding. The current population originates from just seven ferrets that were selectively bred.

Black-footed ferrets feast upon prairie dogs and invade their burrows, meaning that the disappearance of their co-dependent animal would prove disastrous for the species. Also, prairie dogs are considered a “keystone” species due to their importance to a range of animals, such as eagles, owls and coyotes. However, prairie dogs have suffered population crashes due to the sylvatic plague, shooting and habitat loss.

To protect prairie dogs from the sylvatic plague, wildlife officials have tried to vaccinate them, but found it difficult. Spraying their burrows with insecticide to kill the fleas is such a labor intensive, and also, the prairie dogs locate in large areas, over thousands of acres.

2) Technology/Deployment

  •  By working with private contractors, develops the equipment to drop the vaccine uniformly across an area
  • Vaccinated gumball machine has been devised to dispense the vaccine
  • This device can be fitted to a drone, which will use its GPS to reliably drop vaccines at 30ft intervals.
  • The drone will also be able to fire to the left and right, meaning that three vaccines can be dropped at once.
  • A modified fish bait machine has helped create the vaccine, with the pellets being made in-house.
  • The tests show that prairie dogs find the bait “delicious”, with a dye added to the mix reliably showing up on the animals’ whiskers

3) Stakeholders:

  • Policy makers
  • The US Fish and Wildlife (FWS)
  • Wildlife experts
  • Private drone expert’s contractor


  1. Oliver Milman, The Guardian, “Drones to unleash vaccine-laced pellets in bid to save endangered ferrets”, July. 12, 2016, retrieved Nov. 2, 2017 from:

  1. Karin Brulliard, The Washington Post, “Watch peanut butter drone strikes that could save endangered ferrets”, October 24, 2016, retrieved Nov. 2, 2017 from:

<Comment on Portable Toilets-minimLET>

This kit was designed on purpose of minimizing size and weight compared with usual portable toilet. It was done by that one part would serve multiple roles and that missing part is supplemented with its function by diverting stuffs around us.

For example, the case bag was made waterproof by attaching a bottom gusset so that it can be used as a bucket that can carry 16 liters of daily water (about 2 toilets can flow). The inside of the toilet seat also serves as a container for storing fine parts.


Fall 2017 – Week 6

New Gradation Blind Cuts 34 % of Energy

1)Sustainability Area: Energy

Problem: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Building Sector consumes nearly half (47.6%) of all energy produced in the United States. Seventy-five percent (74.9%) of all the electricity produced in the U.S. is used just to operate buildings. Globally, these percentages are even greater.

Accordingly, one key way to reduce GHG as a whole is to work for CO2 emissions produced by the building sector by transforming the way buildings are designed, built, and operated.

The United States Department of Energy announces the “Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative” to reduce the net energy usage of all newly-constructed business buildings by 2030 and all business buildings by 2050. It is expected that a large energy-saving market will be established in the future.

In this situation, Gradation Blind was developed by a Japanese manufacturer of curtain tracks, TOSO Co., Ltd., which reduces building lighting energy by 34%, taking natural day light efficiently into office buildings.

2) Technology/ Deployment


With Gradation Blind, natural daylight is drawn into the office interior optimally.
Reflecting light onto the ceiling ensures even distribution of natural daylight to areas far inside the room.


With normal blind, opening slats to let in natural daylight increases interior brightness, but causes glare from windows and computer screens. The environment is not optimal for office workers.


By making natural day light efficiently, you can realize 34% cost-cut for lightning energy.


The Gradation Blind was deployed as one of energy conservation building demonstration technologies at ZEN (Zero Energy Nanotechnology) building of SUNY Poly and started demonstration test for realizing Net Zero Energy Building in March, 2016.



3) Stakeholders:

  • Building owner (Both business/residential)
  • Real estate industry
  • Interior design industry
  • Office workers and resident as a product user

<Comment on Solar Powered Aircraft >

At this timing of second test, the solar plane reached a maximum altitude of 19,000 feet, but for future, longer flights, the plan is to reach up to 28,000 feet during the day, then descend to about 5,000 feet at night, converting altitude into distance until the sun comes back up to recharge the batteries.


Fall 2017 – Week 5


A sustainable future powered by sea

Sea Wave Power1) Sustainability Area: Energy

Problem: Alternative source for renewable energy.

2) Technology

  • The blades of this five-blade turbine are made of a soft material and they rotate on their axis when influenced by ocean waves
  • the diameter of the turbine is about 0.7 meters. The axis is attached to a permanent magnet electric generator, which is the part of the turbine that transforms the ocean wave energy into usable electricity.
  • The ceramic mechanical seal protects the electrical components inside of the body from any saltwater leakage.
  • This design allows the turbine to function for ten years before it need replacing.

3) Deployment

  • “Using just 1% of the seashore of mainland Japan to harness sea wave energy can [generate] about 10 gigawats [of energy], which is equivalent to 10 nuclear power plants,” Professor Shintake, who develops the turbine explains. “That’s huge.”
  • The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) researchers launched The Wave Energy Converter (WEC) project in 2013.
  • It involves placing turbines at key locations near the shoreline, such as nearby tetrapods or among coral reefs which are used as wave breaker, to generate energy.
  • Each location allows the turbines to be exposed to ideal wave conditions that allow them not only to generate clean and renewable energy, but also to help protect the coasts from erosion while being affordable for those with limited funding and infrastructure.
  • The turbines themselves are built to withstand the forces thrust upon them during harsh wave conditions as well as extreme weather, such as a typhoon.
  • The blade design and materials are inspired by dolphin fins — they are flexible, and thus able to release stress rather than remain rigid and risk breakage.
  • The supporting structure is also flexible, “like a flower,” Professor Shintake explains. “The stem of a flower bends back against the wind,” and so, too, do the turbines bend along their anchoring axes.
  • They are also built to be safe for surrounding marine life — the blades rotate at a carefully calculated speed that allows creatures caught among them to escape.
  • Now, Professor Shintake and the Unit researchers have completed the first steps of this project and are preparing to install the turbines — half-scale models, with 0.35-meter diameter turbines — for their first commercial experiment. T
  • The project includes installing two WEC turbines that will power LEDs for a demonstration.


4) Stakeholders:

  • Industry partners
  • Policy makers
  • Investors
  • Community around the seashore (including fishery, resort business around the sea area)

<Comment on Warka Tower >

Warka Tower can also generate electrical energy from sunlight. It be equipped with innovative solar panels produced by the Basilian company Sunew. The technology is based on Organic Photovoltaics, also known as OPV (Organic Photovoltaics) and the product is a thin film, light, flexible and transparent.


Fall 2017 – Week 4


The Shoes with No (Carbon) Footprint

co2-shoes1) Sustainability Area: Energy/Waste Management

Problem: It is great to reduce GHG by any technology. But instead, how about making use of CO2 to manufacture products like shoes, which we can potentially turn into everything?

2) Technology

  •  By a collaboration between energy company NRG and product management firm 10xBeta, these sneakers are made mostly from recycled carbon dioxide emissions.
  • As a video about the shoes explains, carbon dioxide emitted by power plants was captured and turned into a special polymer which made up approximately 75 percent of the final product.
  • The rest of the sneakers’ materials were not composed of recycled CO2, but emissions released during their production could be captured via the same processes that collect the carbon dioxide used to make the shoe
  • Although these sneakers are not on sale at this stage, but if this technology can be commoditized, it can be applied to any products.

Source: Creating A Shoe Without A Footprint (including 2:18 sec YouTube video)

 3) Stakeholders:

  • Business with technology of carbon capture and utilizing it for manufacturing
  • Investors
  • Citizen to use products by these technologies

4) Deployment

  • Carbon dioxide emitted by power plants is captured
  • Make it turned into a special polymer to manufacture product



Fall 2017 – Week 2

The Ginza Honey Bee Project

187d1084039f74f61d7f4e8cc66e29bb6c57f5b61) Sustainability Area: Civic Engagement

Problem: The Japanese honey industry is declining due to deforestation and the increasing use of pesticides such as neonicotinoids in rice farming. While other countries are also experiencing colony collapse disorder*, Japan is particularly vulnerable to the advanced age of its farmers and a decline in beekeepers. As honey bee takes vital function of pollination in ecosystem, decline in honey bee population is a problem of whole nature in Japan.

* Colony collapse disorder (Wikipedia)

 2) Technology and Deployment

  • This is not a type of cutting edge technology, but rather, a creative idea and activity named “The Ginza Honey Bee Project” based on civic idea how to cope with ecological problem by applying existing expertise and civic engagement in the middle of city and also stimulate local economy.
  • A group of community members in Ginza, a world-famous district for its luxury shopping and dining in Tokyo, and volunteers set out to connect with nature by establishing a rooftop beehive under instruction of beekeeper experts
  • The rooftop honeybee travels as far as two kilometers to collect nectar taking advantage of the flowers in residential Gardens parks and along sidewalks
  • The produced honey is sold in retail stores in Ginza district with its own brand
  • Since its initial harvest of 150 kilograms in 2006, the project has expanded its operation and increased its honey output to over one metric ton

Source: The Ginza Honey Bee Project (YouTube, 4min 13sec)

3) Stakeholders:

  • City citizen/community
  • Local retail business
  • Professional honey beekeepers
  • Farmers in close neighborhood