Capstone Project Presentations

Our guidelines: Pick a topic, any topic, as long as it’s related to sustainability, find other people interested in your topic, research it and go. Admittedly, most of these ideas (especially my group’s) were put together at the least second, but they all spawned some really interesting discussions.

Me, Kelly and Dillon’s Project:image

My notes from everyone else’s presentations:

Students for Sustainability – Jaime and Amy
–          Create a sustainable idea, reach out to your network
–          More support = more change
–          College students surrounded by lots of resources, trying to connect their passions
–          Small ideas: motion sensor lighting, faucet flows, recycling water, composting in dining halls, rooftop gardens, CFL

A case for compost – an advocacy group – Jennifer, Amy, and Alicia
–          provide communities with composting consulting services
–          composting and recycling can divert 70%-90% of municipal solid waste
–          90 cities have composting programs while 8,660 have recycling programs
–          Model: San Francisco’s mandatory program where people are subject to fines
–          Promote widespread implementation through lots of pilot projects in schools, local govt, etc to educate the population
–          Have “pick up days” at these central locations
–          Make the blue, green, and black trash bins color coded nationwide

Making solar cheaper and more efficient – Kara and Sara
–          current shit: crystalline silicon, may 20% efficiency, current uses include remote areas communication traffic
–          Tandem cells: amorphous silicon and non crystalline silicon absorb different spectrums of light on the top and bottom of a cell
–          Solar paints
–          Nano-inks
–          Policies:

  • Feed-in tariffs
  • (run by DOE)
  • Restrictions on metering and networking

–          Social:

  • Used in developing nations
  • Create jobs
  • Recycle materials (glass and silicon?)

–          Economics:

  • Traditional pv cells require glass protection making them heavy
  • Need economies of scale to lower price
  • Chinese labor costs super low – how do we produce in the us?
  • Hoping to cut prices in half in the coming years

–          Solar glass and solar paints for car
–          Peroskite

Sustaina-city: a sustainable approach to city planning – Katie and Joelle
–          Mission: provide cities with a sustainable plan to follow
–          Sprawl: when cities expand their boundaries into bordering areas with low density development
–          A study done by Smart Growth America found a direct relationship between sprawl and chronic disease – more likely to walk less, weigh more, and have high blood pressure
–          Technology:

  • Transit/biking
    • Zip cars
    • Walking
    • Biking
    • Public transit
  • LEED certified buildings
  • Mixed use developments
    • Combine residential and commercial in a single building
    • Policy
      • Old laws prevent mixed housing developments from being adopted
      • Limits to non-residential portion of projects they insure to anywhere from 15-30% of its value – eliminating these caps could help mitigate the risk of some developers
  • Community gardens

–          Social Impact: People aren’t used to being in such close proximity – gated communities have allowed people to lock themselves in their own fortress, many don’t know their neighbor
–          Long term impact

Harvesting Lightening – Steve, Tom, Anggie

–           Ben franklin rap
–          100 lightning bolt strikes on the planet/hr
–          3 million volts/m, 10k-50k amps == GW of power in a single bolt of lightening
–          anatomy of a lightning strike – branches out until it reaches the ground, short to ground then pulses-          artificial lightening to charge cell phone
–          set up 6 towers in a football sized field, 20 yards apart – power house 500 yds away – towers have very thick gauge wire – wires enter vat with lots of impurities for high impedance to heat up everything – liquid is vaporized, steam powers generator

  • materials:
    • super thick gauge wire
    • methanol – holds heat better – creates steam for a  longer amount of time
  • Florida ideal location: the capital of lightening

–          Policies? What policies?
–          Cost

  • One-time cost: (total :1 million)
    • Storage tank: 40k
    • Methanol: 150k*$1.50
    • 100,000 in wire
    • steam turbine: 325k
    • power house: 75k
    • land: 50k
    • condenser: 50k

–          Feasibility: extremely unreliable

Standardizing the elimination of ghost power – Nick and Mike
–          where does ghost power come from?

  • Necessary: control receivers, sensing equipment, printers, communication devices
  • Not necessary: charging equipment, backlit screens, clock signals, ectronic utilites

–          The plan:

  • Education
  • Suggest energy star appliances
  • 1 watt initiative (initiative for electronics to only use 1 watt in standby mode)
  • tax break for companies for products that consume less than 0.25 watts while in standby mode
  • expand use of Kill A Watt meters

–          The US uses an obscene amount of energy – we will need to change our habits and technology – not just rely on renewables
–          EEE communication device

Agua Es Vida – Lindsey, Adriana, Mike
–          1/5 children’s death is to water related disease
–          40 billion hours women spend of carrying water
–          Create a BLUE program:

  • Technology:
    • GIS
    • Energy
  • Social
    • Law and Policy
    • Usage
    • IR
  • Environmental Health
    • Water bourne diseases
  • Treatment Process
    • Desalination
    • Waste Water
    • Bio Sand Filter
  • Water of Country
    • History
  • Agriculture and Water: Desertification

–          Have site visits for each topic
–          Instead of Capstone Projects, focus on on-site community service projects
–          Target country: Belize – poor, safe, mayan, etc
–          Potential partners: living water international and the water project

Final Day: feeling accomplished with a new destination

We took our time packing up our campsite on the final morning of work. I was called an overachiever for taking down my tent before breakfast and for a while we just stood around Jaime’s computer, laughing at some of the ridiculous pictures and movies we took in between doing actual work. There were still two large reaches left, but instead of splitting into two groups we kept the wolf pack intact and surveyed together. The first reach was large but relatively easy. The second reach was surrounded by logging and roads with huge rock slides at every turn, clearly changing the channel from its natural course and greatly decreasing sediment size. The rest of us tried to hold back our excitement for freedom as Jaime made the difficult decision to leave the site.

We ended where we had started, going full circle around the peninsula: on the Skokomish river. We sat silently in the truck, music blaring, windows rolled down, finally experiencing the beginning of summer heat. We all picked up our cars at Olympia, headed to the campground we have established as our safe haven, and finally showered. Chris soon headed out to meet his wife in Seattle for their honeymoon, cracking my back in at least twelve different places as he hugged me goodbye. Our wolf pack was down to three. I owed Paul dinner as I had forgotten my wallet on our last excursion, so the three of us went in search of seafood and a good view. After running away from the fancy places where women in heels and men in jackets climbed the stairs, we finally found a laid back outdoor seating, right on the water’s edge. Our waiter, to say the least, was entertaining. He introduced himself to us by haphazardly relating some drunk story where he ended up sleeping in his car. When we asked for more time to decide on our order, he said he would be back in three minutes – but wait. “You’re not going to time me right? Cause I’m not married to you, I’m not going to lie to you – it might be a little longer.” And that was just the beginning. Every five minutes some new gag or story approached our table – he wanted to try Jaime’s oysters or made fun of us being on separate tickets or wondered why my desert wasn’t gone faster. At first it was strange and we contemplated if we were on candid camera, but eventually it made for a highly entertaining evening.

When we returned, Jaime pitched her tent and went to bed, Paul passed out in the bed of his truck, and I headed to the laundry room next to the outdoor pool for Internet. I sank into the dilapidated but comfy couch, opened up my laptop and went immediately to my e-mail. Amongst Obama campaign letters and REI advertisements, a small note from a Curt Maxey made me literally cry with joy in the silent and dark room:

“Hi Rachael,

I’ve put paperwork in place to try to employ you for the upcoming fall term with the DOE SULI program, so I hope it will work out that I will be your new mentor, unless you get a better offer.”

I won’t readily admit it, but this past year very few things seemed to go right. I cannot begin to relate how thankful I am for this opportunity and how happy I am to finally study alternative energy, especially at such a prestigious institution. Not that I normally screw things up, but there is no way I can let anything go wrong with this one. Wish me luck.