Friday, 6 May 2011

Climate change: Ecopolis

(Cambio climático: Ecopolis)

"Ecopolis" is the title of a TV programme broadcasted in the Discovery Channel that I was watching this morning. The programme presented the perspective of the professor Daniel Kammen (University of California, Berkeley) on which would be the top 4 most demanding alternatives to face climate change issues related to energy production in mega cities.

The two first alternatives are solar power and efficient public transportation (I could not watch details on the latter one). This two alternatives are still at a development stage according to some works presented at some conferences that I attended during my stay in Tohoku. As a result, their implementation at large scale is not yet economically feasible, hence it may not yet be applicable to developing countries. The last two alternatives mentioned made reference to the issues of urban garbage disposal and agrotechnology, and seemed to need smaller investment.

Adriana Downie works at Basic Energies, an Australian company focused on the clean production of biofuels. Specifically, Adriana presented an interesting alternative to long-term carbon sequestration in soils, as a potential alternative to decrease the emission of greenhouse gases from nitrous oxide emissions from soil. Details can be found in the "DOWNLOADS" section on the Best Energies web page.

Prof. Lee Sing Kong is the director of the National Institute of Education NIE in Singapore. Among his remarkable contributions is the development of technologies for food production in the urban landscape. Aeroponics is his research field. Imagine that every roof of buildings in megacities were used to grow crops. This would be impractical because buildings are not designed to support such amount of soil loads on the roofs. But, what if no soil were necessary? Basically, there is where aeroponics acts. What Prof. Lee does is basically to grow crops with the roots hanging on the air, hence reducing the loads on the top of the buildings. The unburied roots simply receive the nutrients in a liquid from a system of sprinklers and the problem of the missing soil is solved. This system does not seem to capture much carbon as suggested in the TV broadcast, nevertheless, it reduces the amount of energy needed to transport food from the fields. Different from this is the idea of the green roofs, which are aimed to control storm water runoff, and storm water runoff pollutants.

To understand the idea of aeroponics, you may find several pictures and videos over the WEB, which I am not posting here to avoid copyright infringements.


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