Feb 5, 2015

Kickstarter Picks of the Week: Solar System, 3D Printing Tech and Handheld Power

5 min
According to the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, money is free speech. So by that logic, what better measure is there of a community&rsquo...

According to the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, money is free speech. So by that logic, what better measure is there of a community’s support of a product or idea than tech world-beloved crowdfunding website Kickstarter?

The website has been responsible for a host of successful product launches in every sector from music to literature; from journalism to technology. According to Kickstarter, over $1.5 billion has been independently donated to almost 78,000 projects since the site’s launch in 2009.

We at Energy Digital are always keeping our ear to the ground for the next major breakthrough or product development in the world of energy and sustainable, green technology. That’s why we spend a lot of time on Kickstarter. The major innovations don’t always come from the big companies. In fact, more often than not, it’s the tinkerers. It’s the people who risk it all on shooting for the moon.

So if we see a project that we like, we feel like we should tell people about it. So without further ado, this is the list of the top projects on Kickstarter that we’re watching this week, along with the amount raised at time of our publishing and how much longer the project has to reach its goal.

Solstice Power’s Solar System - $2,296 out of $25,000 goal, 3 days to go

If you’re a regular reader on this site then you’re no stranger to solar power. The technology has, in recent years, moved well beyond the scope of the theoretical and is now being accepted as one of the most practical renewable energy sources in the world. In fact, between 2012 and 2014, solar energy production increased by about 90.52 percent in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

But the technology is not without drawbacks. While the obvious problems (like energy storage and rainy day downtime) have a multitude of solutions, the technologists have been slower to address the relatively small percentage of sunlight harnessed by traditional panels. Most flat photovoltaic panels currently convert roughly 16 percent of sunlight into electricity with the rest being absorbed as heat.

Solstice Power is hoping to change that. With an innovative approach that utilizes concentrated photovoltaics, the company says their solar systems could produce about three to five times as much electricity as conventional panels. Solstice Power says that at this point each individual component of their system has been tested and proven, but financial backing is needed to scale the technology up into a full system before taking their product to market.

If successful, this technology could prove to be another milestone in the adoption of solar energy.

Click here to see the project’s Kickstarter.

Draken - $148,292 out of $100,000 goal, 30 hours to go

In the society that we have today, to fill the needs of a constantly fluctuating number of consumers, manufacturers across the spectrum of industries typically generate too much of a product and warehouse the difference either on the chance that their production will have some sort of hiccup in the future or that demand for their product will increase, allowing themselves some cushion. While this has worked wonders for a few established countries, it often comes at the expense of developing nations where manufacturing is cheaper and the global resource pool that is drained to create products that aren’t necessarily being sought.

Enter 3D printing. Let’s say you needed to replace a broken part in your car. Assuming it’s a dynamic piece, you can go down to an auto store and purchase one of many spares, or you can print yourself one (actually, Jay Leno is already doing just that). Imagine a whole world where rather than relying on overproduced products that cost huge amounts of energy to get to market, you’re able to sit down at your desk and print what you need.

It’s not science fiction anymore. While 3D printing has been around in some form for a few years, it typically runs significantly more expensive than consumers are willing—or able—to pay. 3D Facture hopes to change that by introducing a high-resolution 3D printer at a pricetag below $1,000.

Because of the massive implications this technology has for the future of manufacturing, we consider it an important step toward sustainable development.

Click here to see the project’s Kickstarter.

Sustainable 3D Printing Filament -$2,731 out of $20,000 goal, 26 days to go

While 3D printing is poised to overhaul the manufacturing and design industries, one of the major limitations to making to product “green” is the printing filament. In essence, 3D printing takes raw plastic and either precisely extrudes it or uses a UV laser to shape a reactive resin one layer at a time.

At this time, all 3D printing filaments are made from “virgin” plastic, as Dimension Polymers founders Mark Sherman and Gerald Galazin put it. While there are already some products on the market that allow tinkerers to recycle their own plastic to create 3D printing filament, the quality is often insufficient and the process is time-consuming. So Dimension Polymers is trying to be the first to introduce high quality, 100 percent recycled plastic filaments, making the process cleaner, greener and more sustainable.

Click here to see the project’s Kickstarter.

Kraftwerk - $979,545 out of $500,000 goal, 29 days to go

This project is a no-brainer for anyone who’s ever run out of power on their phone while out and about. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to take some form of generator or power supply with them camping, but doesn’t want to be weighed down by bulky commercial units. Actually, it’s perfect for just about everyone.

The kraftwerk unit generates electricity made internally with lighter gas. After a three second fill-up, kraftwerk’s makers say the device can generate enough electricity to fully charge 11 iPhones, all while coming in at a cool 7 ounce unit roughly the size of a cell phone. Anything that can be plugged into a standard USB port can be charged using the kraftwerk.

Currently, the device’s maker eZelleron Inc. has raised nearly twice as much funding on Kickstarter as the drive initially called for. So, they’ve introduced some new incentives for donations, including special edition kraftwerk units for each backer once the drive raises $1 million. With such a simple product, it’s easy to see why the device was chosen as a staff pick by Kickstarter.

Click here to see the project’s Kickstarter.

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Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

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