US Plan: Chemosynthetic Management of the Water/Energy/Nutrient Nexus (WENN) by The WENN Protocol
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Thank you for participating in the 2015 Climate CoLab United States' Climate Action Plan contest, and for the time you spent in creating your entry.
The Judges have strongly considered your proposal, and have chosen to not advance it as a Finalist for this contest.
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2015 Climate CoLab Judges
Comments from the Judges:
A very provocative and comprehensive proposal that is far ahead of current thinking and approaches about the issue. Commendable. But, for now, not realistic.
I very much like the fact that this proposal focuses on sequestration and waste energy, since those issues are often overlooked by climate advocates/policymakers.
However, while this proposal includes a lot of discussion of the science, and some discussion of possible funding sources, it is not at all clear exactly WHO would take on this challenge, or HOW that entity (government? business?) would do so. Therefore, while appealing, the proposal is not clear enough for me to evaluate feasibility or actual impact.
This proposal, while containing quite interesting elements, is not well explained—it has too much unrelated detail, but simultaneously does not clearly explain the three elements adequately:
The proposal for algal capture of CO2 is not something that is widely cited; a quick review of the literature on this found few articles over the past 40 years—and the original dates back to the 1940s. However, one of these (David L. Erbes And Martin Gibbs, 1980) spoke about possible inhibitors to the reaction that are not discussed by the author in this proposal, but could limit the production he suggests is likely.
The concept of the perpetual salt fountain is more robust—but here, the author has not provided much insight as to the potential ancillary consequences of building massive harvesting systems on the ocean surface; supplying the entirely of the world's energy and nutrient needs implies a very large industrial complex. There may also be consequences to global warming that could change biologic composition in the ocean and reduce the benefits suggested.
The third idea, on large-scale terrestrial bioreactors is not given much explanation—and was hard to follow though the text.
Conversely, the discussion on the various forms of finance was quite extensive, and could be valuable not only for some of these ideas but also for others outside this proposal. For the authors three elements, there needs to be an explanation of how the barriers to project finance would be managed: for example, most of the funds cited do not invest in unproven technology. Alternatives mechanisms to pay for demonstration/first-of-a-kind projects would need to be found in the VC or government funding community before large scale implementation through conventional financing would likely be made available.
Finally, the links to other proposals are not well explored (though this is noted by the author). More work on these links would be needed if this is to advance.
Additional Comments from Climate CoLab Fellow:
This proposal is very detailed in outlining a clear path for solving a piece of the climate puzzle. It offers a suite of technologies, which could support a clear path for global climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, water production, and nutrient management through chemosynthesis. The expected benefits of the proposal include wide application to a broad spectrum of sectors including energy, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, waste management, etc. This is a very practical proposal with extensive technical, scientific, and economic justification.
However, the author could benefit from some technical advice in order to streamline this proposal and make it more specific to one or two climate change solutions as well as offer these solutions to a diverse audience especially those who are not immersed in the specialized and highly technical issues on a daily basis. The author correctly points out how this proposal could benefit from other proposals in the MIT Colab library, which are technically linked to the WENN Protocol and related technology suite. This is a welcome observation that the author should pursue to make this proposal for the U.S. region more dynamic and viable.
Aug 12, 2015
Judges' Feedback (1) Sam Adams: I like the boldness of this chemosynthesis-related proposal and the fact that it is grounded in a detailed description(s) of how it can work. I like the suggestion to use existing common utility right-of-ways. Further refinement of it will require applying cost/benefit analysis to determine priorities for its application. A cost/benefit analysis comparing this solution to others would also strengthen this proposal. A political feasibility analysis for each option would useful -- some come with massive vested interests. Maybe not the sexiest part of the concept but perhaps the most important element is its call for, "global standardization of primary climate change mitigation and sequestration (WENN) technologies..." The current hodgepodge of protocols and standards is a huge barrier in this field (2) Kate Gordon I appreciate that the proposal is specific and outlines a clear path for solving a piece of the climate puzzle. I particularly like the specificity of the potential funding mechanisms, which demonstrate a real understanding of the current political and economic environment in which the proposal is being put forward. I’d make the following suggestions to strengthen the proposal, none of which is focused on the science (as it’s not my area of expertise): Organization: the proposal would benefit from a much clearer statement of the project in language that is not academic or scientific, but instead locates this proposal within the larger set of issues being addressed by co-lab participants. Why do the authors think this is the most effective way to address climate change? Why have they chosen this specific approach? How does it fit in with other approaches? I felt the proposal dived directly into the science and details without putting the ideas into context. Tone: The issue of climate change is, unfortunately, still controversial in many places, and the idea that we need to spend significant dollars to solve it is not universal. Therefore I am a strong believer that EVERY proposal addressing climate change needs to be written for a diverse audience that includes those who are not immersed in the subject on a daily basis. This includes government officials with multiple issues on their plates, experts in a range of fields, business leaders, the media, etc. This proposal is very much written for a scientifically expert audience with prior knowledge of climate issues; I think it would benefit from a rewrite that makes it much clearer to a wider group. Hyperlinks: hyperlinks to other sources should be used to back up or provide more information on ideas, not as a place that readers MUST go in order to understand the point being made. The authors should not expect their readers to have to go to multiple websites simply to understand the proposal. On feasibility and boldness, this is a great proposal. I think its strengths will not come through without some attention to the writing, especially to organization and tone. (3) Mindy Lubber Overall, there is a lot of information and a compelling case to build and commercialize this technology to impact the rate of growth of carbon emissions. Without any technological background, it is quite hard for me to judge the viability of large scale use of the proposed technology. I suggest the next version of the proposal offer more specifics on the technological viability. As there is no question of the need for technological changes to be part of the solution, I welcome the development of this proposal. The global approach is necessary and should be the frame from which to consider this proposal. It would be helpful to consider the funding opportunities with greater specificity. While I noted the list of possible options, developing the funding section with more details would provide the judges with a clearer sense of viability. Collaborations with academic institutions such as MIT as well as other top tier scientific centers will be important as this moves forward. Overall, I found the proposal to be impressive and to provide enough relevant information to suggest further exploration (Additional) Comments from Climate CoLab Fellow Joseph Nyangon: In addition to the judges' feedback provided above, I find this proposal very detailed in outlining a clear path for solving a piece of the climate puzzle. It offers a suite of technologies which could support a clear path for global climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, water production, and nutrient management through chemosynthesis. The expected benefits of the proposal include wide application to a broad spectrum of sectors including energy, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, waste management, etc. This is a very practical proposal with extensive technical, scientific, and economic justification. However, the author could benefit from some technical advice in order to streamline this proposal and make it more specific to one or two climate change solutions as well as offer these solutions to a diverse audience especially those who are not immersed in the specialized and highly technical issues on a daily basis.. The author correctly points out how this proposal could benefit from other proposals in the MIT Colab library, which are technically linked to the WENN Protocol and related technology suite. This is a welcome observation that the author should pursue to make this proposal for the U.S. region more dynamic and viable.
Aug 12, 2015
The limited space provided within the CoLab form makes addressing the suggestions and concerns of the Judges extremely difficult within that limited space. Also, the time and effort spent in simply trying to work in such a limited space needs to be better spent. Thus, I've transferred the CoLab format to a Google Doc (link below). This allows for expanded text, better graphics, more complete explanations at multiple levels (i.e. non-technical, policy centric, funding centric and STEM centric etc.). This link will also allow the reader to follow the conceptual development of the U.S. Plan: Chemosynthetic Management of the Water/Energy/Nutrient Nexus (WENN) even after the CoLab competition is complete. The link is below and you may need to copy and paste it into your browser as links to such 'work-arounds' many times become broken. https://docs.google.com/document/d/16xC-3NXB9xCt91IbkanFNX57L_3md0aHv1QldPtHKl0/pub Best regards, Michael
Sep 12, 2015
There has been further refinement of the Water, Energy, Nutrient Nexus (WENN) Protocol in the area of authorship and organization.
The link to that work is:
However, there still is the need to address each nation's/region's ability to use the WENN Protocol per the competition(s) mandate.I'm working my way through the information found in the World Resource Institute database: http://cait.wri.org/ and hope to be able to make clear linkage between the national pledges and the WENN Protocol within the revision time frame allowed within the Finals stage of the competition.
Your continued patients with the development of the WENN Protocol proposal and further support would be greatly appreciated.