Students Can Actually Think?

At the beginning of the year we launched a Choose2Matter project with Angela Maiers and Mark Moran. We developed our own #BettPassion projects and a simple search here on the site will give you all you need to read the journey.

The class of Mrs. Dierickx has continued to pursue their projects all school year. Recently one of the groups composed a piece on their project and learning to be published by Huffington Post and to help spread their ideas and message.

I am just so proud and honored to work with students and staff who are working to make change. I am even more proud by the type of the work that students are creating. This article below composed by 8th graders is so well written that I am just amazed.

I will share the link when it goes live on Huffington Post. For now it has been posted to Choose2Matter.

This article reminds that we have a generation of students ready to change the world and I am so proud to be part of the journey.

The Launch of FWE – a Choose2Matter Project from Bettendorf Middle School – http://choose2matter.org/portfolio/the-student-choose2matter-journey-and-project-development

This is a guest post submitted by Andrew Del Vecchio, Ryan Fleming, Maxwell Herrmann, Christina Lothrop, Luke Soko, Jackson Stamper, and Joshua Turner. They are all 8th graders at Bettendorf Middle School, which hosted a Choose2Matter LIVE event in September 2013.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Lao-tzu

Although the origin of this quote is disagreed upon, its message has been found to be true in many facets of life. We have personally experienced the verity of this saying on our excursion through Choose2Matter, a project centered around giving students an opportunity to reach out and help their community. As eighth graders, we have been given an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference.

The day we were acquainted with Choose2Matter, we were broken up into groups according to our passions and skills. The seven people on our team all have a fascination for green, efficient energy production. We have taken this time and thought of many ideas for how we can assist our  society, and we saw one conclusion; building a machine that can produce energy and remove waste. This was the idea that had birthed our company.

We are F.W.E., and this is our story.

Once our group came together, we took the first step that you should take in any project; research. We did not know exactly what we were going to accomplish at the beginning of this project, other than the fact that we wanted to create a machine that would turn waste into energy.

  • Our first idea was that we wanted to use a catalyst that would take carbon dioxide and turn it into carbon monoxide.
  • To do this you would have to use bismuth and put a charge through it.
  • When this happens the CO2 molecules become just CO molecules. Now it is carbon monoxide, which is combustible.
  • We now have a fuel that we could use to run a generator.
  • In this process the carbon dioxide was the waste that we were attempting to turn into energy.
  • After this, we had the idea to use artificial digestion, which would use organic material and change it into energy, similar to how the human body works.
  • Food waste and animal waste that has been thrown into landfills produces large amounts of methane that contributes significantly to the greenhouse effect.
  • We had several plausible plans that we could use.
  • The first one was a project we nicknamed “Frankenstein”. We gave this project such a nickname because it replicates the human body.
  • We would use acids to decompose organic material (the stomach) into raw nutrients that we could change into ATP, which is cellular energy (small intestine), and that could be converted into electricity similar to how the brain works.
  • The reason that this idea did not work is because we do not have the necessary resources or technology.
  • From the idea of using artificial digestion, we got our name; From Waste to Energy, or F.W.E.
  • Still sticking with the idea of artificial digestion, we delved into deeper research to try to find a way to turn a waste product into energy. At this point, we found out about anaerobic digestion. This is the decomposition of organic matter in the absence of oxygen.

 

Source: “Anaerobic Digestion.” Anaerobic Digestion. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. <http://3ad3.com/anaerobic-digestion>.

This would be perfect to use, as its main source of fuel is leftover food and animal manure. After learning more about anaerobic digestion and contacting various professors, our group began to analyze the idea more thoroughly. The process starts out when food is put into air-tight containers with manure. The actual digestion occurs at this phase. When the food is decomposed by anaerobic bacteria that is housed in the manure, a vapor called biogas is released. This biogas is very similar to natural gas. It contains about ninety percent methane and the other ten percent is made up of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

This biogas is now taken through tubes that lead to a filter, so that we can have a result of pure methane. To filter the biogas, we must lead the gas through a container of water, and as the biogas rises to the top of the water, most of the carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen will stay in the water while the pure methane continues through the piping. Also, during the filtering process, very little methane is filtered out.

Now that we have nearly pure methane, it can be used for many purposes. Our system would combust the methane to produce electricity. Although, there is a problem with this, for if we combust the methane we would produce a byproduct of CO2. Considering the whole point of this project is to make energy that would not damage the environment, we had to analyze more research to solve this problem.

Soon, we decided to use a greenhouse. At this point is when we came across aquaponics. Aquaponics is a system that grows plants and raises fish in a cycle.

 

Source:  “Aquaponics.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics>.

Water from a tank holding fish is pumped into a container that holds plants, so the plants are watered and any fish feces would fertilize the plants as well. When this machine is connected to a greenhouse, we can release the CO2 and the plants would absorb it.

To summarize, our machine would take in organic waste and convert it into methane, which would then combust in a generator producing electricity and small amounts of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide would go into our aquaponics system that would allow the plants fertilized by fish feces to suck it out of the air and grow. Now, our machine creates a cycle of energy and food without any other byproduct but oxygen given off by the plants.

 

Our system could be used for various purposes and in many places.

Revolutionary it may seem, but this machine needs a purpose; it needs to be used just as effectively as the process within the machine. Farmers could use this machine to turn any organic waste (hay, animal waste, grass, corn stalk, etc) into energy that could not only heat and light their house, but heat their barns, too, on a brutal winter day.

Source: “November 2012 ABe-Notes.” ABE Newsletter. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. <https://engineering.purdue.edu/ABE/Abo

Also, the farmers could grow corn within the greenhouse that they could later sell. Schools and/or large businesses could use this machine by separating their food and organic waste from other materials in their trash, too. The food and other organic waste that would have originally been wasted into a trash can and gone off to a landfill to emit methane and contribute to the greenhouse effect, will know be converted into energy. This energy will be used to help heat, light, and power the school.

Also, considering produce is very expensive, the school could then grow their own produce, such as lettuce, within our machine and it eat during school lunches. Lastly, developing countries and small villages could really put this machine to use. An entire small village within a developing country could deposit its animals waste and any other organic waste they could find into the machine to provide light, heat, and electricity for radios or any other device that may be used in developing countries. Also, the machine could help the village grow crops along with supplying a source of fish for protein, once the fish begin to reproduce. By understanding how our machine works, one can see how our machine, tested, commercialized, and perfected could revolutionize our world today.

Through the uses of this contraption, we can make current jobs more efficient and environmentally safe. As you have read, there is proof of concept in our machine, but we lack the funding required to create it. The potential in this project is astounding and to see it go to waste would be devastating to us.

We understand that we do not have the means to continue creating FWE, so if anyone has an interest in furthering the good of such a machine, by all means, do so. As long as our names are recognized, we have no problem in seeing our blueprints come to life. What we find most important is to see our machine working and helping people, no matter the personal gain. At its core, the goal of FWE is to convert waste into energy to provide clean energy to those in need.

We now have a system that takes in food and/or any organic waste and converts into oxygen, electricity, and food. Revolutionary it may seem, but this machine needs a purpose; it needs to be used just as effectively as the process within the machine. Farmers could use this machine to turn any organic waste (hay, animal waste, grass, corn stalk) into energy that could not only heat and light their house, but heat their barns too on a cold winter day. Also, the farmers could grow corn within the greenhouse that they could later sell. Schools and/or large businesses could use this machine by separating their food and organic waste from other materials in their trash, too.

The food and other organic waste that would have originally been wasted into a trash can and gone off to a landfill to emit methane and contribute to the greenhouse effect, will know be converted into energy. This energy will be used to help heat, light, and power the school.  Also, considering produce is very expensive, the school could then grow their own produce, such as lettuce, within our machine and it eat during school lunches. Lastly, third world countries and small villages could really put this machine to use. An entire small village within a third could deposit

The most practical place for this system to be used is on a farm. With the energy it produces it could be used to heat buildings or barns, it could be used to fuel stoves, and any type of plant can be grown in aquaponics. Now the farmer will be getting electricity to use on his farm, and he will be producing crops and fish. Not to mention that this machine runs off of organic material and manure, so if a farmer has any livestock he can use their manure to fuel the machine. Anaerobic digestion paired with aquaponics could also be revolutionary to third world countries.

Through the uses of this contraption, we can make current jobs more efficient and environmentally safe. As you have read, there is proof of concept in our machine, but we lack the funding required to create it. The potential in this project is astounding and to see it go to waste would be devastating to us. We understand that we do not have the means to continue creating FWE, so if anyone has an interest in furthering the good of such a machine, by all means, do so. As long as our names are recognized, we have no problem in seeing our blueprints come to life. What we find most important is to see our machine working and helping people, no matter the personal gain. At its core, the goal of FWE is to convert waste into energy to provide clean energy to those in need.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)