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.

Stakeholders

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

Implementation

  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.

Reference

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160713143004.htm

Taking the Sting out of Beekeeping

Sustainability Problem:

Apiary Inspectors of America survey shows that US beekeepers lost 42 percent of their honeybees from April 2014 to April 2015. The decline of bees threatens our food production. As well, colony losses pose significant economic threats to the livelihood of beekeepers. 

Technology: 

iBuzzHive is a 3-D printed wooden beehive that has sensors and high definition video camera with an app for remote monitoring of bee health and growth of colonies. Urban beekepers can monitor their bee colonies using IoT technology in a non-invasive way.

hive_in_tree.jpg.662x0_q70_crop-scale

Using wifi, the BuzzCloud App monitors tells surrounding temperature, humidity,  number of bees in colony and other data to show the overall condition of the hive’s health.

buzzcloud-app.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smart

This technology would be great for the resurgence of interest in urban beekeeping.

Sources:

http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/buzzcloud-urban-beekeeping-ibuzzhive.html

http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-agriculture/us-beekeepers-lost-almost-half-their-honeybees-2014-15.html

Stakeholders:

  • beekeepers especially urban beekeepers
  • interested government organizations such as US Department of Agriculture and Apiary Inspector of America
  • interested non-profit organizations such as Bee Informed Partnership
  • investors and general public who can help with funding
  • agriculturists who depend on pollination for food production

Implementation:

  1. This technology is at its early stage. BuzzCloud project team will turn to crowdfunding to launch the product once the prices and specs have been nailed down
  2. After launching, mass production of iBuzzHive and App would lower the cost and make excellent value for investor .
  3. Next steps include re-assessment of the effectiveness of this technology and its impact to the beekeeping industry.

Digital Printing: A Possible Revolution for Dyeing Textiles

digital printing

Problem: Textile Waste and Water Use Caused by Fabric Dying  

Traditionally dying textiles causes a number of environmental problems like excessive use of water and landfill overspill due to textile waste.

Technology: 10 awesome innovations changing the future of fashion10 awesome innovations changing the future of fashion” by Melissa Breyer

One technology, digital printing, implemented by Huntsman Textile Effects, uses a process in which prints are directly applied to fabrics with printers, reducing 95% the use of water, 75% the use of energy, and reducing fabric waste. Huntsman does this with a variety of different inks like acid ink, disperse ink, pigment ink and reactive dyes, all of which use cutting-edge technology to create more sustainable products.

Stakeholders:

Huntsman tech engineers/designers

Technological partners

Investors

Fashion designers

Clothing retailers

Customers

Implementation:

In order to implement this technology on a large-scale, a number of investors need to be introduced

Huntsman is worldwide big company, however, it only manufactures in China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand. It must be introduced to the US market and other other European countries that have a big influence in the fashion industry.

Fashion designers must begin to use the technology to introduce the innovation to the public and encourage its usage down the supply chain i.e. factories and low-end designers/retailers. For example, it has already been used by designers like Mary Katrantzou, Alexander McQueen and Basso & Brooke.

Sources:

http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-fashion/10-awesome-innovations-changing-future-fashion.html

http://www.huntsman.com/textile_effects/a/Solutions/Textile%20End%20Use%20Solutions/Digital%20Printing

http://www.huntsman.com/textile_effects/a/About%20Us

Fabric Made of Food

qmilk

Problem: Milk Waste 

In Germany every year 1.9 million tons of good milk is disposed of . This waste is costing manufacturers, as well as contributing to food waste and landfill overspill.

Technology: “When Technology Meets Fashion” by Charles Morley

In 2011, German micro-biology student, Anke Domaske, discovered t a way to make textiles out of milk, tea and coffee beans. She then launched Qmilk, which produces fabrics made from 100% biodegradable/renewable materials, mainly raw cow milk. In order to do this “you add the protein powder – it looks like flour – to water and you mix it into a dough. Then there’s a nozzle at the end with teeny tiny holes that put out textile fibres instead of noodles”. Qmilk 1 kg of fiber only needs 5 minutes to produce and max. 2 liters of water, this means it can be more cost efficient as well as produce fewer CO2 emissions. finally, it is naturally antibacterial, which means it can be used for those with sensitive skin or textile allergies.

Stakeholders:

Qmilk tech engineers/designers

Technological partners

Investors

Fashion designers

Clothing retailers

Customers

Implementation:

In order to implement this technology on a large-scale, a number of investors need to be introduced

Qmilk is a small company, based in Germany. In order to spread the technology, it must be introduced to the US market and other European countries that have a big influence in the fashion industry.

Fashion designers must begin to use the technology to introduce the innovation to the public and encourage its usage down the supply chain i.e. factories and low-end designers/retailers.

Sources:

When Technology Meets Sustainable Fashion

http://de.qmilk.eu/presite/index_en.html

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sour-milk-fibres-textiles-qmilk

 

A billboard that creates water out of thin air

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 15.44.31

Sustainability Problem

Lima, Peru, is the second largest city in the world that is located in a desert after Cairo, which makes its inhabitants vulnerable to the scarcity of water. This issue affects specially the population that lives in the poorer outskirts of the city, who often depend on wells as the main source of this element. The main water sources of the city are three rivers that during the winter (dry season in the Andes) depend on glaciers as their main source. However, according to a study in the journal The Cryosphere, Andean glaciers have shrunk between 30% and 50% since the 70’s, which threatens the availability of fresh water in the future.

The solution: A billboard that creates drinking water out of thin air

The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC) built a billboard that captures air humidity and produces potable water in Bujama, a district located in the outskirts of Lima that gets less than two inches of rain a year. However, this place has an atmospheric humidity of 98%, according to UTEC. This technology consists in a system that uses a water purifying process called reverse osmosis to produce water out of the humidity and stores it in 20 liter tanks. Finally, the potable drinking water is dispensed at the bottom of the billboard.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 15.47.12

Stakeholders

  • The population of the Bujama district, located in the south of Lima, Peru.
  • The target audience of UTEC: potential new undergraduate students of engineering programs of UTEC.

Implementation 

UTEC wanted to attract potential engineering applicants by demonstrating an innovative solution to a sustainability problem through technology. The university identified the problem of water scarcity and determined the ideal place to locate the billboard that would solve that issue while announcing application deadlines: right next to the Panamerican Highway, south of Lima.

Source

 

 

Small Scale Waste-To-Energy (WTE)

Sustainability problem

Landfill sites in cities are filling up quickly. The quantity of waste is ever-growing with the increase of population, industrial and commercial activities. Energy prices are on the other hand going skyward. Many regions have additionally begun introducing ambitious renewable energy targets.Technologies to deal with waste that have by-products of energy, hence, are highly sought after.  The currently dominant waste-to-energy (WTE) technology is operated at a large scale. Images  of mass incinerators exerting gasses from large chimneys and traffic from convoys of wagons transporting waste does little to the industry’s reputation with the prevalent Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) attitude.

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Areas of sustainability

Waste, Energy, Pollution, Health.

Technology

Small-scale WTE plants tend to occupy 4 acres, in contrast to the average 20 acres required by mass burn incinerators. They are more affordable, have low profile construction and minimal emissions. They can thus be more easily integrated and presents a sustainable solution.  Although technological operators have varying small-scale WTE plant designs, the simplified explanation below will use that of ENERGOS ASA’s (a company based in Norway):

Picture1

(1) Fuel preparation process – municipal waste is pre-treated through shredding and magnetically separating recyclable ferrous material.

(2) Thermal conversion process (from waste to energy) – First, fuel enters the primary chamber where it is gasified and syngas is created. Second, the syngas is transported to the secondary chamber for high temperature oxidation.

(3) Steam generation – Hot flue gas from the secondary chamber then gets recovered in the Heat Recovery Steam Generator, which consists of a smoke-tube boiler, water-tube boiler and economizer. The boiler system can be designated to deliver saturated steam (for heat) or superheat (for electricity production).

The system comes with a dry flue-gas cleaning system where lime and activated carbon are injected downstream from the economizer, separating ash from flue gas hence controlling air pollution. 

Stakeholders

Municipalities, Citizens, Technology Operators, Environmental NGOs, Investors

Deployment

  • Municipalities need to be lobbied for the installation of small-scale WTE plants.They need to be exposed to successful implementation case studies.  NGOs may play a large part in providing assistance for such lobbying efforts.
  • Local communities in areas with potential installation of small-scale WTE plants need to be educated regarding its benefits (especially in comparison to the larger scale WTEs) in order to change their perspective.
  • Proponents of the technology needs to network and maintain good relations with investors in order to derive more funds for research and development to refine the existing small-scale WTE technologies.
  • As the technology can be useful not only by municipalities but also companies with large production of waste, governments should also provide market incentives.
  • Technology owners are expected to come up with financing options for municipalities that are interested in applying the technology.

Sources

http://www.energ-group.com/energy-from-waste/

http://www.seas.columbia.edu/earth/wtert/sofos/Ellyin_Thesis.pdf

http://www.ieabioenergytask36.org/Publications/2001-2003/Publications/Review_of_Small_Scale_Waste_Conversion_Systems.pdf

http://www.energ-group.com/energy-from-waste/the-process/

Artificial Trees : A Carbon Capture Technology

Sustainability Problem: Increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere causes global warming

Areas of Sustainability: Energy, Water, Waste, Safety, Health

Artist’s conception of the Columbia researchers’ artificial trees. Photo credit: Stonehaven Productions Inc.

Technology: Artificial Trees

  • In Yale Climate Connections article “Artificial Trees as a Carbon Capture Alternative to Geoengineering,” Richard Schiffman explains the “carbon capture” project of Columbia University Earth Institute scientists Klaus Lackner and Allen Wright. The technology aims to to absorb carbon dioxide using sodium carbonate in the streamers of artificial trees that look like shag rugs and scrub brushes. The researchers would like to make carbon capturing “forests” using artificial trees.
  • Each “tree”, approximately as big and with roughly the same production cost as a car, can absorb carbon produced by 36 cars in a day. It will take 10 million of these “trees” to capture 12 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions per year. A gentle flow of water can release carbon dioxide from the artificial trees. Carbon dioxide can then be buried underground or can be used for industrial purposes.
  • This technology is not geoengineering. “It does not actively interferes with the dynamics of a system you don’t understand” according to Lackner.
  • Artificial tree proved to be one of the first technologies to be able to “remove vehicular carbon emissions from the air”.

http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2013/02/artificial-trees-as-a-carbon-capture-alternative-to-geoengineering/

Stakeholders:

  • Environmental engineers and scientists
  • Policymakers
  • Investors

Deployment:

  1. Accelerated research is needed to find a cost-effective way of purifying carbon dioxide and sequestering it underground.
  2. In order for this technology to be deployed in a grand scale, further  research should be done to make it cost-effective. Urgency on R & D process should be a commitment.
  3. Policies should give investors very attractive incentives in order to commit to this technology.