Solar tents to preserve fish in Malawi

1) Energy

Problem: In Malawi, drying fish is currently achieved by chopping down trees and burning the logs, which simultaneously removes a carbon sink and produces additional carbon emissions. 

2)  The technology: solar tents:

– A new “solar tent” allows fisherman to dry their fish only using only solar energy.

– A polyethylene sheet is hung over a wooden frame shaped so as to maximize the captured solar heat and ensure optimal airflow.

– The tent is more sanitary than the wood-burning open-air drying, which exposes the fish to dust, pests and contaminants. Fishermen thus lose fewer fish to spoilage.

– Farmers get a higher price for cleaner, higher quality dried fish and don’t need to cut down as many trees (just enough for the wooden frame, which can be used for years).

– Sustainability is paired with economic development.

3)   Stakeholders

– Local and international development NGOs

Fish buyers

–  Local councils in fishing communities


4)   The first 3 steps in deploying this technology

  1. Perform research to compare economic and environmental impacts of an average wood-burning fishery compared to a solar tent fishery based on the pilot project.
  2. Identify fishermen using wood-burning strategies and gauge interest in solar tents.
  3. Solicit funding from local and international NGOs to provide credit and/or grants to build tents for interested fishermen.

San Francisco Water Woes


  1. Sustainability problem: Unsustainable water sourcing for the San Francisco Bay Area
  • California has faced record-breaking droughts putting stress on existing water sources.
  • Existing water resources cannot be used at current rates without depleting long-term capacity.
  • Most of the water resources available to the city are far away and used by other municipalities. Water is not collected or controlled locally


  1. The technology: Advanced Fog Collection

“How to get fresh water out of thin air” MIT News [ ]

  • Fog collection is an ancient practice, but recent advances in materials science can make fog collection more efficient for use in densely populated areas.
  • San Francisco is surrounded by seawater, but does not have much fresh water. However, it experiences fog clouds that derive from evaporated seawater that blows inland from the Pacific Ocean.
  • Unlike existing desalination methods, no energy is required to collect fog, as it takes advantage of the sun’s energy to desalinate the water.  Fog collection methods are affordable and require little maintenance. They are easy to install on both small and large scales.
  • Innovators at M.I.T. have optimized the material characteristics and mesh-size of fog-catching nets to produce more water in a smaller space, and reduce evaporation off the nets back into the air. These new methods can extract up to 10% of the water in fog and triple the collection capabilities of existing methods. 


  1. Organizational stakeholders:
  • City Water Authority
  • Consumers
  • Property owners and developers
  • Environmental organizations


  1. Steps to deploy the technology:
  • Step 1: Identify areas that receive the most fog and relevant building codes.
  • Step 2: Identify pilot partners to install roof top fog collectors and MIT researchers and patent holders willing to pilot their designs and integrate them into a water system. Partnerships may be made with those who have or are looking to build green roofs, as water can be collected and distributed on the roof without creating new piping systems.
  • Step 3: Launch pilot with willing partners and optimal locations identified in Steps 1 and 2.

LightGrid: GE Partners with Oceanside, CA


  • Energy: Cities are wasting energy and money powering unnecessary or broken roadway and street lights.


  • LightGrid by GE is an outdoor wireless control system for street and road lights. The technology allows for remote operation and monitoring of all fixtures through a Web-based user interface.
  • The technology allows you to collect real time data for any light fixture or group of light fixtures.
  • In Oceanside, CA the city expects to drive energy and maintenance savings by an estimated $600,000 annually.
  • In addition, the installation of new lights is expected to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 1.7 million pounds.


  • GE
  • Local government
  • Residents


  • Connect with cities and other municipalities to show them the benefits of installing GE LED street lights with LightGrid technology.
  • Install GE LED street lights with LightGrid technology on roads and streets, and in parks, parking lots, and other areas.
  • Monitor each light through the Web in real-time and respond to maintenance or operational needs and activate more precise “on/off” and light dimming schedules to save energy and money.


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”.


  • Environmental engineers and scientists
  • Policymakers
  • Investors


  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.