Solar-Powered Toilet That Treats and Recycles Water


Sustainability Problem: Health and water

2.4 billion people do not have access to safe and adequate sanitation. Sanitation related diseases are one of the leading of children under the age of 5. Further, access to clean and safe water is a growing concern: at least two-thirds of the world’s population lives with severe water scarcity for at least a month of every year and half of the world’s population is expected to live with water stress by 2030.

Technology Summary

  • Seva Sustainable Sanitation is a smart electro-chemical toilet that uses power from solar panels to sterilize and clarify wastewater for reuse for flushing or irrigation.
  • Carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus can be almost fully eliminated from the wastewater.
  • The toilet can be used off-grid in developing nations.
  • The toilet is outfitted with sensors, a smartphone maintenance guide, and smart grid technology that allows individuals and communities to repair the toilet as needed with only a screwdriver


  • Communities and individuals that lack access to safe and adequate sanitation or in areas with severe water stress
  • Governments of developing nations
  • NGOs

Deployment Steps

  • Develop and test maintenance system
  • Finish field tests of prototypes
  • Work with NGOs, governments, communities to disseminate and install toilets in areas in need


Comment on: Kelp as a fiber

  • Kelp is a zero-waste fiber that could result in saving tons of materials, that do not readily decompose, from entering landfills. AlgiKnit could also reduce environmental pressure and resource degradation caused by the harvesting of raw materials that we currently use to make our clothing.

Tree T-Pee

download (1)

  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


Filtering Contaminated Rivers Using Nanotechnology

Area of sustainability: Water


Water contamination is a great issue in many industrialized cities. This is especially clear in many Asian countries where the rivers are polluted from their numerous electronic recycling factories.


  • Perry Alagappan from Texas has designed a filter that will be able to filter 99% of heavy metals from water using graphene nanotubes. After use, the filter can be rinsed with a vinegar mix and the residue will be pure metal that can be used to produce products like cell phones etc.
  • Utilizing this technology in contaminated rivers and lakes in less developed countries could be very beneficial. It would help make the water cleaner, improving the overall health of the population.
  • Furthermore, this will provide a more sustainable way to produce new metal products. This could in turn make products like cell phones more affordable for the population.


  • Government
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Chemical engineers
  • Cell phone manufacturers
  • Wastewater workers
  • Maintenance workers


  1. Provide proper education and detailed information about the product
  2. Convince the government to invest in the product
  3. Create efficient residue subtracting procedures


Main article:

Photo source:

UNI: ms5584

My comment on another article,

“This is an interesting idea in theory. It does raise a couple of questions about the implementation and practicalities, though. How will it harvest and store the energy, and how long will the charge last? Will they be able to make the paint 100% explosion safe? Because whenever hydrogen and oxygen directly interact there will be an explosion unless proper precautions are taken. I could not see anything about these issues in the article.
However, if these things are sorted and made fool-proof, this could be an amazing opportunity for houses to start creating their own fuel source. In turn, this paint could even be used on ships sailing long distances to make the journey more energy efficient, as ships are known to be a massively polluting.”


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




Solar-Powered Water Purification


1. Sustainability Problem

Category: Water

One billion people on the planet do not have access to clean water. At least two-thirds of the world’s population lives with severe water scarcity for at least a month of every year. Half of the world’s population is expected to with water stress, where their demand exceeds supply by 2030. These shocking statistics are fueled by the contamination of groundwater via pollution and increasing groundwater salinity caused by rising sea levels. Further, climate change and a growing population have put increasing pressure on available water reserves.

2.Technology Solution

  • The Desolenator is a portable solar-powered water purification system that can purify water from any source for human consumption.
  • Using the power of the sun, water is boiled to produce steam; steam is subsequently converted back into water and any wastes flow out of the machine. A particle filter is also used to remove any solid contaminants in the water.
  • The machine can produce 15 liters of distilled water per day at a cost of $0.0005 per liter.
  • The device contains a sim card that enables the product to offer a pay-per-use micropayment.
  • The product has applications in the developing nations where there is not access to clean and safe water, but also in the developed world for people who are living off the grid or in communities with water quality problems.


  • NGOs
  • Individuals and communities that lack access to clean water in both developed and developing nations
  • Governments of developing nations
  • Militaries
  • Individuals in niche water markets (campers, boaters, survivalists)

4. Technology Deployment

  • Carry out necessary field tests to produce commercially available Desolenators
  • Partner with NGOs and governments in developing nations to provide the technology to communities that lack access to clean water
  • Market the Desolenator to niche markets such as campers, boaters, and survivalists



Supporting article:

Company website:

The Warka Water Tower: Where Accessibility and Innovation Meet

The Warka Water Tower

1. Sustainability Problem: Water and Health

In today’s world, a growing population, global climate change and inefficient water infrastructure raises concerns for equitable access to clean drinking water. Currently it is estimated that 783 million people lack access to potable drinking water. Lack of potable drinking water contributes to a range of public health concerns such as spread of disease and illnesses, deaths, and inability to grow food.

2. Technology: Warka Water Tower

The Warka Water Tower was developed by an Italian architect named Arturo Vittori with his studio Architecture and Vision. It serves as an innovative technology to address concerns for access to water in developing countries in addition to their accompanying public health problems.

Summarized below are some key takeaways from this technology:

  • Warka Water Tower was developed to collect water vapor from the air in areas that lack sufficient water infrastructure for remote or developing communities
  • the device functions at the highest capacity in areas where humidity and fogs are high
  • depending on the conditions, the tower can harvest from 10 to 20 gallons of water daily
  • the tower can be built without electrical tools
  • this design is the winner of the World Design Impact Prize in 2016 and mass production is aimed for 2019

3. Organizational Stakeholders:

Stakeholders in this effort that would be relevant are the existing team of designers, architects, and developers. Additionally, marketing and investment teams would be beneficial to help Warka Water meet their goal of mass production in the year 2019. Outreach and construction teams should be assembled to promote these structures in developing countries to educate community members on how to construct and use the tower along with its other functions such as the Warka garden, drone, toilet, and house.

4. Next Steps

Warka Water’s next steps should involve assembling an investment and marketing team to gain funding for their innovative designs. This will allow them to bring the tower to mass production and enhance funding in their design and development of other Warka products. They should additionally consider NGO partnership to install and promote acceptance of this technology in developing countries.

Check out the following links below for more information!
Read More »

Off-grid devices create drinking water

  1. Sustainability Problem: Water & Health
  2. Technology to address water-crisis: 
    • A device that converts sunlight (or other source of heat) into water and does not require high moisture nor electricity, becomes a solution for arid areas where many poverty-stricken populations live today.
    • MIT and UC Berkeley researchers developed this technology that is able to produce 2.8 liters of water per day for every kilogram of spongelike absorber it contains.
    • Crystalline powders called metal organic frameworks (MOFs) create 3D networks of metal atoms and sticky organic compounds linking together which can bind specific gases. A kilogram of MOFs is pressed into a thin sheet of porous copper metal which is placed between a solar absorber and a condenser plate.
    • References:

3. Organizational Stakeholders: Developing countries and their governments, farmers, residents and companies living in arid and poverty-stricken areas, any private sector companies and even communities committed to achieving SDGs, NGOs, researchers working on solving similar issues.

4. The first 3 steps in deployment:

  1. Currently, this MOF is zirconium-based which costs $150 a kilogram and too expensive to be broadly distributed. But zirconium can be successfully replaced with aluminum, which is 100x cheaper. First, find funding for further research to replace device with aluminum.
  2. Once enough many prototypes are created, these can be used for a pilot project to demonstrate effectiveness.
  3. Send to areas of most need, where use can be monitored and analyzed. Provide proper training on use and maintenance of the device.

By Sylwia Zieba, sz2673

Waterless Textile Dyeing


Sustainability Issue: 

Category: Water

The textile dyeing industry is one of the largest consumers and polluters of water:

  • Water use: The amount of water needed in the dyeing process and the scale of industry put pressure on the availability of clean water in developing nations. Traditional fabric dyeing methods use an estimated 30 liters of water to dye a single t-shirt.
  • Water pollution: Dyes and process chemicals are used inefficiently resulting in large amounts of waste and wastewater that is released often untreated into bodies of water. Between 17 and 20% of water pollution from industrial sources is produced by the textile dyeing process.

Technology Solution:

  • DyeCoo is waterless dyeing technology that uses reclaimed CO2, a waste product, to dye textiles in a closed loop system. The system uses pressure to bring CO2 to a supercritical state where it acts as a highly effective solvent, allowing dye to dissolve and permeate deep within textile fibers. The CO2 used in the system is reused with a 95% efficiency.
  • The DyeCoo technology eliminates the need for water, reduces the amount of dyestuff needed by 50%, and does not require any additional dyeing or process chemicals. This technology eliminates the waste and wastewater produced in traditional textile dyeing.
  • This process of textile dyeing reduces energy usage and operational costs. It is estimated DyeCoo can result in a cost savings of 40-60% for companies.
  • Nike has utilized DyeCoo’s technology to create a collection of polo shirts under the brand of “ColorDry”.


  • Clothing manufacturers
  • Clothing companies
  • Textile dyers
  • Textile manufacturers
  • Dyestuff suppliers


  • In conjunction with dyestuff suppliers, develop dyestuffs that are compatible with DyeCoo machines and all all fabric types
  • Increase the commercial availability of the DyeCoo machines
  • Implement a maintenance and service structure allowing for the correct set up and longterm use of machines around the world


Article: “Dyeing Without Water”  –

DyeCoo website

Supporting articles:

Sensors to measure and monitor water quality in real time


Sensors made from gallium nitride can be placed in any body of water to deliver real-time, continuous monitoring of water quality.



Sustainability challenge:

While tackling water problems around the world, it is very hard to get the right data at the right time to help speed up the decision making process to manage the water problems. Getting access to real time water data can help make better watershed management, water pollution and water supply decisions. Having data about the entire water system, rather than about specific points along the system, will also help tackle the water problem immediately.

Collecting the data regarding the water is currently a long and cumbersome process: You first physically collect the sample of water along certain specific points. You then take this to the laboratory and test the small sample for specific contaminants. This process only helps prove a hypothesis, it doesn’t throw light on the current situation without any assumptions.

Getting real time access to water quality data can be effective in any and all countries alike. Important steps can be taken by the authorities like the EPA, Water Corporation and Department of Water


  • Governments and Water (utility) departments
  • Researchers
  • Universities
  • Private companies working in sustainability and water management
  • Communities around critical water sources

Process of implementation:

The process needs to be customized for each water body in each region/country. An overall process flow that is necessary involves: Partnership with the government or respective utility department -> Invest in buying the sensors -> Deploy the sensors along the entire water system -> Track and monitor the data -> Use data to make relevant water system decisions

Some examples where I think this would be very relevant:

  1. Polluted water systems clean-up efforts: Like the Gowanus Canal or the Ganga river

Development around crucial water systems: Like the Ala Wai Canal in Hawaii or that entire watershed


Soil-Free Farming Grows Vegetables in the Desert

  1. Technology (

Agricel is a Dubai-based venture which hopes to expand film farming technology across the U.A.E where water scarcity is a central problem. With the film farming system, plants are grown on a hydromembrane invented by Professor Dr Yuichi Mori of Waseda University in Japan which is made up of water-soluble polymer and hydrogel. Each internal cell within the film adsorbs and holds water and plant nutrients, preventing evaporation and surface loss.

The soil-free technology allows users to reap several benefits. Using Agricel’s technology, farms require 90% less water than traditional methods, while also using 80% less chemicals and producing 50% higher yields. The incidence of diseases by pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.) is also fully controlled even without chemicals, because the pathogens cannot penetrate the hydromembrane. The growing method causes the plants to increase their sugar production and amino acids in order to absorb the water. The byproduct of this is produce that is sweeter and more vitamin rich.


  1. Sustainability Problem

Agricel seeks to ease the daunting task of feeding future generations in an increasingly uncertain climate and world. By promoting film farming and the use of hydrophillic boosters, they have focused their efforts on more efficient water use and fighting world hunger.

This technology reduces the amount of water and fertilizer needed in plants which means crops can be grown in water scarce regions or regions with poor quality soil. The film is versatile and can be placed on nearly any surface such as concrete, bricks or even sand and greenhouse, and in nearly any climate. Hydrogel can be mixed into the local sandy soil, boosting water retention and nutrient distribution.

  1. Stakeholders
  • Agriculture industry
  • Urban and traditional farmers
  • Material researchers
  1. Implementation Process

Launched in 2010, the Agricel network is primarily based in Japan but has since extended to China, Pakistan, Nigeria, the U.A.E, U.K. and Australia. The range of test pilots with successful results allow them to prove the technology’s adaptability.

They are now focusing on partnering with organizations which do not necessarily have the farming technologies or experience but have powerful distribution networks, negotiation capabilities and confidence in the technology to provide safe, reliable and highly nutritive produce. This will allow the technology to be implemented on a larger scale, leveraging partners’ existing network and Agricel’s technical expertise.

Despite the many benefits of film farming, the foremost barrier to implementation is the high cost. The hydrogel film is sold at around $2,000/ acre with a professional installation of about $2 million. However the company suggests that the initial investment will be returned between 18-24 months due to the low operational costs of the farm, in addition to the increased yield and improved quality of the produce.

For their next steps, the company hopes with their expanding scope and scale of technology implementation that continuous R&D could lead to the application of film farming in industrial production.




Agricel, Why Film Farming:

Appropedia, Film Farming:

Hydrate Life, Water Saving Technologies: Film Farming:

Your Culinary World, Amazing New Farming Technique Could Make Food Available Almost Everywhere for Everyone: