Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Student Success Stories
October 27th, 2015

There is a new metal product that is expected to have far-reaching applications.  While it may take some time for commercial use here on earth, NASA is evaluating its use for space exploration missions as components used to construct rockets.  What makes it unique is that the metal is composed of 99.9 percent AIR.  It is termed to be a micro-lattice material, or an “open cellular polymer structure”.

“The metal was developed by HRL Laboratories, a joint venture involving Boeing and General Motors, and researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of California Irvine. It weighs only one-tenth as much as carbon fiber, [according to] Bill Carter, the head of HRL’s Sensors and Materials Laboratory.” (Photo credit:  Dan Little, HRL Laboratories LLC)
light metal

the world’s lightest metal


Here’s the posting that Caltech has about this unique material:

Light as a Feather, Stiffer Than a Board


And the post at UC Irvine:

Lighter than a feather and stronger than an ox


Where do you envision this “super light” material will be utilized?  Maybe there’s an invention that you’re already at work on that would benefit from it?  Think of the possibilities…

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October 26th, 2015

I’ve always considered particleboard as pretty indestructible.  I was intrigued when I came across this article describing how rice husks are being employed in production of even cheaper, greener, longer-lasting particleboard.  Ordinarily, particleboard is made from wood chips that are bonded together using glue. Unfortunately, when used in building projects and otherwise, termites eat that wood – the same thing applies to plywood and bamboo.

A group of engineering students from the University of California, Riverside, recently created termite-resistant particleboard from rice husks.

The students wanted to solve the termite problem and wanted the solution to be something readily available for tropical countries needing strong building materials.  The new particleboard is termite resistant due to the rice husks.

blog rice husks

A few different manufacturing techniques for rice husk particleboards

Here are some other applications for rice husks as well:  using them as a source of silicon nanoparticles for use in batteries, an ingredient in “green” cement, a component of environmentally-friendly plastic, and a source of greenhouse gas-reducing biochar.

What next great process are you contemplating to solve a pressing problem?



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The following post was provided to us by Emmanuel Balami from the University Putra in Malaysia.  Thank you, Emmanuel, for sharing this news about your work!

High-Tech Public Utility Management

Following global concerns about Sustainable Development, and Environmental issues, it has become imperative to innovate, so, the idea of using embedded systems and ICT to help our world efficiently manage resource. These resources (water, energy, and food) are not only scarce but grossly mismanaged or wasted by the public. This module is a contribution in facilitating Responsible ConsumptionChange of Attitude by the public toward public utility, especially where governments subsidise these resources for the poor and also to schools and large populations. Organisations/countries that are providing aids to poor countries may wish to take advantage of this module in providing services to humanity, and also, there will be no need for subsidy coupons for countries offering that.

Here are some photos that show the system components and a demo:

Emmanuel util mgt demo2   Emmanuel util mgt demo   Emmanuel util mgt demo5Emmanuel util demo 3



Additional information on the project may be obtained by contacting Emmanuel Luke (bel) BALAMI

balami emmanuel luke - bel

Emmanuel wishes to thank IBM-USA, for funding this project to a successful execution, and Wendy Murphy, for selecting this project & her unflinching support and guidance.  And, if you’d like to learn more about Universiti Putra Malaysia, please click the logo:  Putra U (Malaysia) logo

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For those with allergies,  a ‘no pets’ policy can be a welcome salvation.  These types of rules generally apply to 4-legged furry creatures; but, the regulations have been extended as folks have gotten more “creative” in their choice of non-human companions for the home.  I recall (with somewhat of a shudder), the glass box of Tarantulas that graced the bedside table of a guy friend of mine.  Don’t know what became of him – or the arachnids – but, I do know that fish are often in a nebulous gray area when it comes to those pesky pet policies.  Their mini-homes within your home can range from a glass jar filled with water to some really impressive tanks, with all sorts of acoutrements to make the inhabitants feel like they are back in their native locale.

There are a lot of fishy people in the world (I leave the interpretation of that up to you!) Two of them, Yoon Hoon and his friend and co-founder, Andy Zhong, have come up with a nifty gadget to give your finny little friends a CLEAN place to frolic – no human intervention required!!  The product has been debuted and promoted at Hax Demo day in San Francisco and the inaugural CES Asia event in Shanghai last May, as well as the 2014 Mini Maker Faire, in Shenzhen, China.

Read about the




AquaTrek is an all-in-one cleaning, monitoring, and surveillance tool. Much like the Roomba, it is a largely autonomous, utilizing an aquatic scrubber and auto sensing technology to perform its duties.


The pair have a start-up and you can sign up for their email list here: Moai Devices

What a great use of Robotics and Sensor tech!  If you’ve got an idea that seems ‘out there’, maybe reading about these guys will spark you into acting on your brain-child… It might be the next big thing!

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August 10th, 2015

A project by Seattle-based charity Sawhorse Revolution is both educating young people and creating accommodation for the homeless. The Impossible City is a community of housing built by local teens as they learn new skills. The accommodation is designed to be affordable, sustainable and movable.

blog impossible city

“It wasn’t hard to realize that we really needed to engage with off-grid living practices to build for an off-grid community,” says Sawhorse Revolution executive director Adam Nishimura. “That idea also inspired the use of salvaged and up-cycled materials whenever possible.”

Additional shelter designs have been shortlisted for building in the future, including one with collapsible functionality, canvas-covered structures and a concept inspired by disaster relief shelters. A solar charging hub, a community cookspace and composting latrines are also shortlisted for creation.

What a nice way for youth of today to learn life-long skills and the art of volunteerism.  I hope they realize what a BIG impact they are making in people’s lives!

Do you have any new sustainable breakthroughs that can be shared with Sawhorse Revolution?

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