1 Mei 2018

 

 

The Inspiring Ones – 2

 

 

After a whirlwind couple of weeks, here is another bout of inspiration to push on through the next quartile to feed your mind with valuable information and invaluable ideas. This is the second part of the inspiration series. In this part, I am going to discuss another inspiring social enterprise called The Ocean Cleanup.

The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organisation based out of Delft, Netherlands. It was started off as crowdfunding campaign and went on to be one of the major success stories of 2015. Now, off the radar, they have made significant strides in achieving their goals of cleaning the ocean off any plastic waste. They aim to deploy their first mega installation for cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in mid-2018.

The company was started in 2013 by a, then, 18 year old guy called Boynan Slat. The fact that the ocean was being polluted and there was an existential acceptance among the large part of the population that the ocean was not cleanable and that the degree of pollution can only be reduced, spurred the bright mind of this young entrepreneur. In the past few years, he has gone to win a number of individual awards to acknowledge his work.

The recent news about the alarming rise in the volume of the garbage in Great Pacific Garbage Patch brought back the importance of this idea. The technology used is a passive floater accompanied by a screen. The pipe is made out of HDPE which is a highly durable and recyclable material. All tests have been highly successful in achieving the intended goal of capturing micro and macro plastic being dumped in the ocean.

There are a number of critical points in its swift establishment and deployment in the ocean. Initial capital and logistics issues are common for a project of this scale, but the most important hurdle is the ability to handle such volumes of waste, the ability to  recycle waste on land and the worldwide acknowledgement towards reducing and eventually stopping the production and use of single-use plastic.

For this project to be successful in driving the necessity of stopping the use of plastic, it is essential for appropriate regulation of the ever growing plastic industry by all governments of the world and driving change at the grassroots level.

I hope you realise that this is the need of the hour. Climate change is real. Realise it and act on ways to counter it. Be the driver of sustainable innovation.

For now, I hope to have delivered on this month’s dose of inspiration. Until next time, find your source of inspiration and become a driver of change. The world needs you.

For upcoming events, check out and follow our Facebook page. There are a number of very interesting events coming up in the next month. Hoping to see you all there.

 

 

 

26 Maart 2018

 

The Inspiring Ones

 

 

Inspiration is what we all seek. Every student, every person, every human being seeks inspiration. That moment of madness when the eyes light up and the feeling that we have struck something that pushes us forward, makes us get out of bed every day until we achieve the goal. Only a handful of us are gifted with the tendency to inspire others. In this three part, inspiration series, I would like to get together three of the most diverse perspectives towards defining and achieving sustainability.

The first one is, the company called Fairphone. Based in Amsterdam, it aims to create a clean supply chain while also improving the lifestyle of the miners involved in the material extraction process for the electronic industry and also promoting circular economy (recycling). And to be fair to them, they are doing a great job at it.

They started off as a crowdfunding campaign who were overwhelmed by the support to their idea of openness in an industry that is growing at breakneck speed resulting in growing insensitivity to basic human rights. With their initiative, they have provided sure jobs and better working conditions for at least a million people involved in the product life cycle. In their effort, they have also ended up making the phones more green, recyclable and most importantly, a great degree of openness in terms of their activity. This has made them industry leaders in the environmental friendliness of their product.

Moreover, they have enforced the need for more openness in the industry, bringing forward the discussion towards enforcing lawmakers to take steps towards better control and oversight in the mobile phone industry.

There are a number of theoretical ways to look at this company but, the best understanding is achieved in the perspective of social sustainability.

Social sustainability and its needs are so understated in the current world. The word sustainability incites talks about technology and progress. But we so often forget the need to lift the world around us before we take the next step. If not, the currently unsustainable social ladder will eventually break, as has so often been repeated in history, resulting in chaos. Fairphone offers a beautiful approach towards utilising technology to reduce the social class gap while bringing better structure, trust and green initiatives into the mobile phone industry.

Food for thought: Can this similar perspective of a clean supply chain be applied to other consumer electronics and completely irrelevant fields like dairy products, clothing industry?

I hope you have been inspired at least a teeny tiny bit. For more information and discussion about this topic feel free to contact us through mail: TeamEnergy@tue.nl with the subject “Blog”.

If you want to know more about the work we do at Team Energy, check out our website: https://www.team-energy.nl

For upcoming events, check out and follow our Facebook page. There are a number of very interesting events coming up. Until next time, keep inspiring and be inspired.

Good luck! Veel Success!

 

 

01 Maart 2018

 

The Disappointing Ones!

Yes, the exams have been hard, but the crazy carnival makes up for it. With everyone still in vacation mode, it is really hard to come up with reasons to be disappointed. But, as I had promised, failures are part of successes, so as we discuss the most interesting energy technologies and policy changes, it is important to discuss the failures too. Who knows, you might just find a solution to one of the many problems we face.

With the amount of energy spent by people in parties being unquestionably large, it is only logical to find a way to utilise it in a sustainable way. And so came the sustainable dance floor which aimed to do the same. This idea of a sustainable dance floor was introduced way back in 2008 and it can be considered one of the biggest disappointments in an era were the number of people partying in pubs increases exponentially each year. Over a decade has passed since the idea gained worldwide attention, but there has been no major development in the technology to make it viable. What has gone wrong?

Piezoelectric crystals were used to harvest the energy from the vibrations of the dance floor. For piezoelectric crystals to produce a noticeably large amount of energy corresponding to the energy lost by the dancers, the frequency of vibrations of the floor need to be much higher than the existing ones. One interesting article even suggests that, increasing the tempo of the music in the bar might increase the energy produced. But, in my personal opinion, it is not going to be enough and there should a different way to look at it.

Here is some food for thought, what else can you do to make sustainable dance floor a successful innovation? Also, what is sustainability – is it the idea of harvesting different available forms of energy or is it creating processes and life cycles that are less energy intensive?

Of course, there are other disappointments in terms of technologies, but what can be more disappointing than the inability to have a party with a good social conscience?

The diplomatic side of things has so many disappointments to offer. The large  number of stakeholders involved in the implementation of any energy policy results in successes being too far and few between periods of inactivity.

The biggest disappointment in terms of policies and industrial structure is the lack of flexibility in the existing fossil fuel market and the inability of the emerging renewable energy market to smoothly replace it. The long term over dependence on fossil fuels has made it almost impossible to replace such a dynamic market at a short notice, even though it is the need of the hour. The scale up of renewables has already taken too long and it doesn’t seem to be ending soon. There are a number of functional, technical and market related problems which are yet to be sorted.

Food for thought: Possible innovative policies helping in scale up? What about the existing fossil fuel companies, their employees and their market share? What to do about the workforce that might be displaced with this possible scale up? How else can renewables be better incentivised while maintaining cash flows in other sectors?

And there are other questions too. Instead of looking at these failures as disappointments, these can be looked upon as source of inspiration. This will only facilitate the furthering of sustainability in the global community and provide better outlines to the, rather vague concept of sustainability.

For more information, stay tuned to this space. If you wish to be a part of Team Energy, send in your motivation letter and CV to TeamEnergy@tue.nl

Also, any feedback and/or discussions regarding the blogs is welcome and can be sent to the same mail id (TeamEnergy@tue.nl) and we can arrange discussions in an online platform or in person. Looking forward to inspiring some, if not all, readers.

Until next time, stay inspired and inquisitive. Good luck, people!

 

22 Januari 2018

 

The Interesting Ones!

With the overwhelming positivity that accompanies the dawn of every new year, emboldening us to take steps in unique directions and resetting our inner self for new rigours, I wish all our curious readers a very happy and prosperous new year. I welcome you all for the second post from our latest initiative, Energy Blog.

In this blog, I aim to bring to you one of the most exciting projects and policies from the energy sector. Without further ado, the most exciting project chosen for this month is : Airborne Wind Energy (AWE)

AWE is a very interesting sector for any energy enthusiast. It has taken extensive strides especially in the EU, who have funded the project in part. This project is based on the idea of reducing the materials and the costs involved in constructing a windmill by removing the concrete and the steel structures. This method of energy harvesting involves the use of an automated winged aircraft tethered to a generator on the ground (the position of generator varies depending on the engineer’s choice).

It is essentially based on the fact that maximum energy from a regular windmill is generated from the tip of its blades. The tether transmits the energy generated from the generator to the cable on the ground. It is also aided by the fact that the height at which the aircraft flies can be much higher where the winds are much more prominent than at the operating height of regular vertical axis windmills.

Prominent companies involved in this field are:

Makani Power (USA) – https://x.company/makani/

Ampyx Power (NL) – https://www.ampyxpower.com

 

This sector will gain recognition over time and even with its critics, it will, most definitely, get some traction in terms of popularity and investment, especially in developing and under developed countries.

Exciting technologies call for appropriate policies and without them innovations and discoveries fail to establish their actual purpose and, in turn, fail. One of the most important policy failures was the construction of mega hydropower plants in the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest carbon sink. Destroying such an important part of survival has been widely opposed by the indigenous people and over the years, there has been an extensive voice raised against this issue. Finally, during the first few days of January 2018, the Brazilian Energy Ministry publicly acknowledged the concerns raised by these people and further added that the costs and risks have outweighed the benefits. We, at Team Energy, feel its high time!! 😉 I am honestly looking forward to their effectiveness in stopping this while addressing the growing energy demand of their country.

For more information, stay tuned to this space. If you wish to be a part of Team Energy, send in your motivation letter and CV to TeamEnergy@tue.nl .

A great start to the year can only be rounded up by a variety of events that we have lined up for everyone interested in the discussion and progress towards clean energy. As this is the exam period, we have scheduled all our events after the end of January. Until then, we wish you all the best of luck for your exams and may the gods of TU/e shine upon you!

18 December 2017

The importance of energy in our lives is so overrated. Or, is it?

A warm welcome to fellow engineers, energy enthusiasts and curious readers, I am Nataraj, one of the newest members of Team Energy. In the upcoming months (and possibly a couple of years), I am going to use this platform to provide monthly updates on interesting advancements in the energy sector, further the discussion about the importance of understanding energy use and offer insight into the work done by Team Energy. So let’s get started!

The importance of energy in our lives is so overrated. Or, is it?

Energy in various forms fuels our day-to-day activities. It is so ingrained in our lives that a single moment of blackout can cause widespread panic. We keep thanking energy for its existence, in personal and physical sense. But do we give enough attention to the ways in which it is produced? Do we give enough precedence to the one thing that governs so many basic aspects of life at once? Energy is literally defined as “the strength and vitality required for sustained mental and physical activity” and there is no denying the fact that energy is essential for us to continue to be such a productive society.

There are two adjectives that duly define the present energy scenario: SAD and EXCITING. The sad part being that we, as a community, have failed to acknowledge our limits of meddling with nature and we are, sadly, seeing its aftermath, the most influential one being, climate change. As per various sources, we are not going to achieve our global temperature change limit of 2 degrees. Moreover, there is a projected rise of over 2% in the global consumption of fossil fuels. The truth is that we are witnessing the effect of decades of ignorance. But we have finally recognized our mistakes and have come to a global consensus (The Paris Agreement) in accepting our mistakes and recognizing the danger of climate change.

The exciting part is the question: What comes ahead? As I write this blog, so many technological breakthroughs are being achieved and a number of policies are being worked upon. However, there are few things that we are overlooking. Decades of ignorance is affecting our perspective. We are still not addressing our problems at its very roots. We are still looking for methods to supply our energy demands, without accurately addressing our pattern of extravagant energy use.

We, at Team Energy, are a small group of energy enthusiasts, who want to push this energy discussion onto bigger levels by providing a platform for students to come up with their side of the story about energy. Upcoming projects like ‘Unplugged’, are aimed to make people realize the effect of small actions, like unplugging their devices, in the economic and energy patterns perspective.

Through this platform, we would like to help further the dialogue of renewable energy and its importance for the continued harmonious existence of the world. In the upcoming blogs, we will further discuss about important breakthroughs in the energy sector and also a list of events in that month. Is the importance of energy in our lives overrated? Most definitely, not!

Our upcoming events for the month of December  2017 are:

Unplugged – 18-22 December

Unplugged is an event that is aimed at raising awareness among the employees of TU/e about the possible energy savings by just unplugging their devices before they leave for their year end vacations. For more information visit : https://www.team-energy.nl/unplugged/

Do you wish to be a part of a group of energy enthusiasts? Join Team Energy! All you need to do is to send in your CV with a motivation letter to TeamEnergy@tue.nl . Let’s all do our part in making this world a better place!

Until our next blog, have an awesome month and a happy new year, people!