Living Energy- connecting science, design and nature to light up our world. by Team Living Light
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This is an interesting and innovative proposal. The main concern at this stage is the small scale at which the project seems possible to implement. The proposal suggests that it would be groundbreaking and help achieve SDGs 2, 3, 6, 7 & 13 by making energy more accessible. This is an ambitious aspiration but it is difficult to understand how much land and plant mass would be necessary to generate enough energy to provide the necessary power. It would be useful to provide more technical information and feasibility assessment. The risks could also be better described. Drought, pests, floods, etc. could severely impact vegetation and the effects on energy production could be devastating. What would be a back up plan? If the idea has been implemented in Rotterdam, it would be important for the proposal to explain what has worked, what the challenges have been, and what the key lessons are.
This is a charming project that aims to power lights with microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which generate electric potential from decaying organic material in soil. MFCs are good for very low power applications and might conceivably maintain a uesful number of LED lights in a public space. I would be delighted to see that sort of application be developed. However, MFCs should not be hyped as large-scale energy sources for other purposes; they will not compete with wind and solar power. The cost of 1680 euros for one lamp seems high since a similar MubWatt kit costs only $40 (https://www.magicalmicrobes.com/collections/kits/products/mudwatt-clean-energy-from-mud). However, the glass planters shown are very lovely and perhaps justify the extra cost.
Congratulations on an excellent proposal. I enjoyed reading it and I love the 'ooh cool' nature of the project. In terms of this particular call for proposals, I was less clear on how this is a 'synergistic solution for sustainable development'. I can intuit that there is potential for greening areas, especially urban areas, and for providing energy and light to those in need, but I found it hard to tell how much light/energy could be generated this way, or what people could do with that light (is it enough to study by?) I also found myself wondering whether this is more appropriate to some sort of Kickstarter or similar campaign. Nevertheless, a well-considered and very engaging proposal.
Great concept, although possible lacking in some details especially around light volumes generated and challenges to scaling. The volumes of water required as also not clear which may be a potential stumbling block, at least in more arid countries. However, good attempts to combine other SDG proposals as required, novel, fascinating and potentially hugely impactful, very persuasive and appealing.
Congratulations on what is a well-constructed and interesting proposal! This proposal is already at an advanced stage with a first trial in a park in Rotterdam. High marks for novelty as one judge commented that he has never heard of these lights nor seen one. We suggest a bit more detail on how many watts/lumens of light can be produced per m^2 of biomass (or some such). A more quantitative comparison with the same area equipped with solar panels connected to LED bulbs, for example, might be interesting. Also, a bit more information on the technology, which is not clear in the proposal (the claim that photosynthesis runs 24/7 unlike solar cells is, for example, unclear - there are very different chemical reactions occurring at night vs day in photosynthesis - will both generate this light?). Similarly, the authors may also wish to describe and reflect on some of the alternative, tested applications of plant microbial fuel cell technology that have been explored such as (i.e., biosensors, desalination, wastewater treatment and hydrogen gas production). We suggest rather than piloting at the city level (the authors suggest Cairo), they chose a single urban park or community garden location, and try to, for example, remove some in-park streetlights that are currently using electricity from the grid (ie even smaller scale than 'city'). This is very, very small scale of course, but it might be interesting to pilot. Implementation will, of course, bring up all kinds of problems not mentioned in the proposal (eg vandalism, impact of extreme events) that will help provide an understanding as to if/how such lights could really be useful. The proposal fits the call in that the authors have duly indicated some past proposals that could be integrated, and mention some relevant SDG's.
Furthermore, could you clarify how the process works? Does this technology directly produce light? Or can the energy be collected and stored for other use? Authors should consider including their video: https://vimeo.com/219501611#at=45 in the proposal. What are the maintenance costs and what would it cost to sustain a specific network? How much land/water/how many plants/ what type of plants are needed for how much energy? Additional information and thinking on how the proposal could be scaled; the enabling conditions; the limitations (technology is currents limited, or cost-prohibitive outside of low power applications) etc. There a have been several failed attempts to create a market for the MFC; reflections on these lessons/experiences would strengthen the proposal.
We also suggest that the authors think about a more holistic approach that builds on other interesting innovations. For example, they refer to using plant power in the nearby future to charge devices which are in demand of more power than led lights- can they expand a bit more on this? Also, other than biodiversity corridors, are there other interesting initiatives (like vertical gardens or other green space initiatives) that they can expand on? Also, the wild edible plants suggestion is really great, can they link this more explicitly- and maybe make the sustainable food angle a bit clearer. I think it's important to emphasise the importance of working with local vegetation- would this require a technological adaptation? It would be nice to hear a bit more about the actual technological process- and maybe some examples where it has been implemented. Finally, there could be a difference between this set of innovations being combined in urban versus more rural areas- a discussion of their implementation in different contexts would be really helpful.
The judges wish contestants the best of luck.
Jan 29, 2018
First of all: thank you for the feedback! We have included/ changed the following points:
These changes can mostly be found in the sections 'Summary', 'What actions do you propose?', 'Where will these actions be taken and how could they scale?', 'What are the proposal’s projected costs?' and 'What enabling environment would be required in order to implement this proposal?'.