Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
October 20th, 2014

Solar Impulse 2 will attempt an historic journey relying on the sun’s energy to power its trip around the world. It can fly day and night fueled only by solar power or termed “perpetual endurance”. Just think, taking a flight using no fuel and with no emissions.

After some short trial flights, the journey around the world is scheduled for March 2015. The aircraft was developed in Switzerland and is sponsored by Masdar, the Abu Dhabi government’s clean-energy company.

The future of aviation looks very bright and very sustainable with these advances in technology. Read the wealth of information that led up to this historic event here.

Do you have any expertise or ideas that can advance current technology to leave a smaller footprint in our world?

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October 17th, 2014

Building your dream home with your own two hands and a bunch of your friends just became a little easier…  That is, if your family will fit comfortably in about 700 square feet of house!

Check out this amazing structure assembled in public view, on the grounds of the London Building Centre, in England-

Downloadable, 3D-printed house built with staples, screws and a hammer



Take a look at the company’s website (including their blog):  WikiHouse

Challenges remain on the structural integrity in the face of weather issues – strong winds… lashing rains… violent, ‘no fun’ kinds of storms.  Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to bring your mind to the puzzle and create a more sustainable model?  Great opportunity to put your “inner architect”, as well as your techie self, into a potentially great future!

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I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic and couldn’t resist the chocolate temptation when I ran across this exciting use of chocolate.

I would have a tough time resisting the urge to drink the fuel (since, after all, it was derived from chocolate production)….

This started as an idea and grew into a viable, sustainable solution to production waste. Any ideas floating around about how to use the by-products of cotton candy production :-)

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October 14th, 2014

The term “football” means different things in different parts of the world.  Football is the biggest sporting event around the globe, but the stadium upkeep has traditionally required unsustainable levels of energy, water and raw materials.

The tide is changing….

Brazil has introduced an alternative, renewable option: power-storing tiles.  The “kinetic-harvesting” tiles are installed under the Astroturf surface and flex fractionally every time a player takes a step. Each footstep generates around five watts per second. The system is supplemented by solar panels, which together help light the pitch and surrounding area for up to ten hours a night.

blog Brazil

A UK football club has installed the first organic football pitch and eliminated all nitrogen-based fertilizers and chemicals from its ground maintenance.  The club is using a range of plant-derived products, from compost tea and coconut wetting agent through to seaweed fertilizer. Charcoal is also added to the pitch to provide a carbon base for bacteria and fungus.  The additional up-front costs of going organic are offset by savings on the club’s energy bills thanks to the installation of 170 photovoltaic panels, which boast a capacity of 45kW.

In addition, they have an autonomously-driven mower, which produces organic mulch that fertilizes the pitch as it mows.

Read about more innovations regarding recycled turf, LED lighting and an NFL football stadium that runs solely on its 400kW-capacity solar plant.

While the stadiums may comprise a lot of real estate, the new technologies enable them to reduce their footprint in our world.

Having attended an NFL football game last week, you get a good feeling walking into a stadium that you feel is being a good citizen of the planet by making changes to become more sustainable!

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October 13th, 2014

As pieces and parts have come in over the last several weeks, we continued building up our varied and sundry parts into subsystems that will be demonstrated during our upcoming Alpha demo this week.

Our new motor, courtesy of Bodine and the fine folks at Control Resources: 12 Volts, 14 Amps continuous output:



This monster will generate the necessary torque to turn a fully-loaded 350 pound drum full of compost.

Here it is attached to a power source doing unloaded testing:



And below, the heart that will make this system beat. Because the solar panel and battery system both operate at 12VDC and the Arduino Uno needs less voltage than that to operate, in the interest of reducing heat generation (anything over about 7-9 volts, the Arduino will reduce by way of internal resistance), we’ll be using a DC/DC Buck- Boost converter to reduce supply voltage to the Ardiuno from 12V to 9V. Additionally, this will provide high voltage electrical isolation to protect the Ardiuno from any possible power transients that could be caused from the motor circuit. In the picture, it’s on the left.

On the right is the power MOSFET that will drive the motor itself. The gate signal will be provided from one of the 5V pins on the Arduino board, biasing the MOSFET to “ON” and running the motor.



Next up- more details about the challenges with programming the Arduino to communicate with several components simultaneously.

Thanks for stopping by!

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