Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
August 26th, 2014

Meg Grant, of Solar Fiber, and co-collaborators Aniela Hoitink, Marina Toeters, Ralf Jacobs, and Professor Derek Schlettwein from Giessen University are pushing the textile boundaries with the creation of solar fibers.

Wearable Solar is an unconventional sustainable answer to our increasing demand for energy and connectivity.

The Wearable Solar collection currently consists of two designs, a coat and a dress made of wool and leather, which produce energy through their integrated solar cells. When worn in full sun for two hours, both garments can generate enough energy to allow a typical smartphone to be 100% charged. The solar cell compartments can be opened and revealed to the sun when needed and folded back when they are not being used.


Wearable Solar Dress by Pauline Van Dongen

Read about these new products and others that harness kinetic energy to power our electronic devices

Solar Fiber would welcome suggestions or collaborations from people with expertise in this area (in either Dutch or English) – please email:

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August 25th, 2014

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) – a mouthful to say; an important concept in making decisions towards a Smarter Planet!  SCR technology is one of the most cost-effective and fuel-efficient technologies available to help reduce diesel engine emissions.  SCR has been used for decades to reduce stationary source emissions. In addition, marine vessels worldwide have been equipped with SCR technology, including cargo vessels, ferries and tugboats.


First step:  learn something about the technology from Wikipedia

Second step: learn something about its practical applications:  boilers, cars, trucks

Third step: learn about who the players are in the field (job-hunt while you’re at it…)

Final step:  assess how the technology fits in with YOUR work and go boldly into the cleaner future without having to hold your breath!


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August 24th, 2014

After a long summer of working, we’re back at it again! Classes have started this past week at North Carolina State University, and we’re picking up where we left off in the spring with our senior design project.

At the spring Design Day even on campus, we placed with our design poster for the Solar-Powered Compost System we’ll be building this semester (seen below).

Design Day Poster


All credit for the marvelous work is due to Neil, our resident artist, craftsman, and worker of all things magic. It’s amazing what a lifetime of working in audiovisual, music, and photography can do in the engineering world!

We all worked internships at different companies over the summer, but were able to meet and continue to refine the design at least twice. In addition, we had to start ordering parts, since the motor and the tumbler itself would both have very long lead times for manufacture and delivery.

We were fortunate to have the very, very generous folks at Mantis sold us one of their wonderful Original Compostumbler systems at a significant discount, and that will be the basis for our project. We were greeted with the new tumbler when we returned to campus this past week, and we’re excited to get to work in the very near future. Stay tuned for more updates to come!

Two deceptively small boxes, all things considered…

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Mouad and I posing with our new toys, ready to start putting things together.

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August 23rd, 2014

As we all droop from the heat of summer in America, it’s a depressing thought to imagine that water shortages could spell an end to making lemonade or running thru the sprinkler on your lawn or hanging out at a pool or beach with your friends or biting into a sweet juicy peach grown by a local farmer (all particularly summer-y type activities that are generally associated with the U.S.).  But it may not be as far fetched as one might suppose -  and it may have a financial repercussions worldwide, too!

Since 2011 companies have spent more than $84bn worldwide to improve the way they conserve, manage or obtain water, according to data from Global Water Intelligence, regulatory disclosures and executive interviews with the Financial Times.


Please take some time to check out the article by Pilita Clark linked below .  Admittedly, it’s a lengthy read, but absolutely fascinating (and slightly terrifying!) in the details about the many areas of the globe that have already begun preparations in hopes of staving off the worst effects of the ‘evaporation’ of this most precious commodity.





(P.S. Note her mention of Coca-Cola and their project with World Wildlife Fund – I talked about their work in my blog post on June 27th. Here’s another chance to click on the panda to explore different career paths for yourself)

WWF logo


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As more and more emphasis is placed on finding alternative means of energy, here’s an interesting story on Geothermal out of American Samoa.

“The American Samoa Power Authority has teamed up with Quantec Geoscience to look for a source of geothermal energy beneath certain parts of Tutuila, as confirmed by ASPA CEO Utu Abe Malae in response to Samoa News queries. The hope is that this form of renewable energy will be able to replace diesel fired power plants in the territory   …this project is designed to cost effectively map the deep layers of rock and water beneath certain parts of Tutuila without the expense and impacts of drilling.”

Mapping of Tutuila being done with an eye toward geothermal energy

Click on the map to earn more about this beautiful region.

Click on the map to learn more about this beautiful region.

Take a look at this accompanying piece on the technology from Leapfrog on 3D Geothermal Modeling

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