With the TEDxAmsterdam Award, we want to encourage people to think about ways to change the world. Winning the Award means that great idea gets our (partners’) support for at least a year to help them elevate their projects. On October 1st, 28 presenters competed in the ING Academy in front of our jury to make it to the top 10.
The jury scored ideas on TED-worthiness: the ideas should be original, inspirational and ‘contagious’. The ideas could be broadly divided into five categories: social entrepreneurship, energy, food, co-creation and health. Because we believe all 28 ideas are worth spreading, we want to share those with you as well. Today we’ve selected the ideas centering around energy and food.
New forms of energy
One of the focal points of the day was energy, as 10 of the ideas presented were energy related. Two ideas that made it to the shortlist of 10 nominees are new developed devices to capture or convert energy. Paul Cardinal developed a tool out of existing technologies that converts CO2 into energy. It captures carbon dioxide and generates fuel using sunlight, CO2 and salt water. In this process, massive CO2 emissions could be transformed into usable energy, which makes it less harmful for the surroundings and also makes use of something that used to be waste. Possible target applications are facilities like offshore platforms or sewage plants.
The second energetic top ten idea comes from Rosella Ferraro and Alexander Suma. Alexander is originally an architect. When he lived in Miami he noticed that the wind of the air condition was constantly blowing through the room. He found it a waste that all of this energy was not used after it left the machine. By combining architecture and aerodynamics, the Integrated Roof Wind Energy system (IRWES) was born. In short, IRWES is a roof that can harvest energy. As the duo finds it very important that the current image of renewable energy changes, they put hard work in the design of the structure and so they envision it as a ‘crown’ on top of any building. This makes the building more beautiful instead of being a complete eyesore (as is often said about windmills). Before the end of 2012, the first roof will be functioning, so these are exciting times for the team.
- Rossella Ferraro pitches her idea in front of the jury, by ImageHunters
More devices to harvest or convert energy were discussed by other candidates. Michael Boot proposed a way to eliminate suit emissions from cars. As a car fanatic, he could not stand that something he loves to do – driving his car – is so bad for the world. This is why he came up with Cy-clocks bio-fuel: to change the bad thing to keep doing what he loves.
A more hands-on idea came from Marco Rus who found out that the DC-current loses much less energy than the more commonly used AC-current. When he read that 90% of equipment in the Netherlands is suitable for DC, he came up with a labeling system to show people that they can use DC, to promote energy saving.
Marco de Baar showed a control system that is able to check and monitor microwaves as this is a large obstacle in the development of nuclear fusion.
Aniela Hoitink and her team put solar energy into a whole other perspective, as they plan on developing a yarn out of solar fibre that converts sunlight into energy while being worn by its customers. I can’t wait to be one of their first buyers, becoming a living mobile battery for my phone!
Who did make it to the top ten is Marcel Verduyn. His fascinating idea has as much to do with energy as with innovation. When he recently flew to Brazil, Marcel saw how the temperature dropped as the plane got higher. As an employee of Shell, he frequently works with energy sources and he knows how much of that scarce resource is needed to cool machines like fridges. The ‘free’ cooling down of water in the higher atmospheres could thus be a very affordable energy source. Free ice from the sky is Verduyn’s project that aims to provide remote areas with ice to be able to cool their water and food. With a balloon, buckets full of water are led into the air, exactly high enough to cool the water or even higher to transform into ice. Back on earth, this cold water and ice can be used by villages to make cooling systems and to preserve their food much longer.
A related idea, also using the sky as an energy source, came from Ramses Molijn. If you think flying up and down with ice cubes is crazy, Ramses went even up much further: he wants to harvest energy from space! He thinks the future lies in space because, as the sun constantly shines, you have a constant energy source. To light the city of Amsterdam, he needs solar panels of 2,5 x 2,5 kilometers. His aim is to launch a mini-satellite within three years.
The two last energy ideas that made it through are not only devices, but are integrated in society. Lisette Stamsnijder works at Essent but travels 3 hours every day to work in order to live in a green neighbourhood. Because she loves nature so much, she sought after ways with the company’s support to preserve this nature. This is why they presented an app to hand customers insights in how much energy they use, so that they will lower their energy usage solely through awareness (to start with). This idea sprung from a ‘developer convention,’ where developers combined the data of both Essent and KPN and came up with this idea: social energy. Most exciting? There is so much more information out there that is not yet shared. This is the bigger idea: to make businesses share their content so more sustainable initiatives can find their way to the market.
Eva Gladek and her team are busy designing a playground in Amsterdam Noord that will be used to show and practice how a whole city can become a sustainable. The aim is to develop a closed loop and sustainable blueprint, linking different technologies. This can be used by other cities as an example how to change their cities and also change the behaviour of its citizens. For example, how can design or technology help to make people recycle more often? The playground is now being developed and everyone is invited to join!
Feeding the world
The third topic of the day was food. As the world population is growing quickly, a lot of people do not have food and at the same time others are getting fatter – clearly, there are a lot of challenges within this field. Rutger de Graaf thinks his idea to make floating cities where food can grow could be a solution. His proposal is to build large islands on the sea connected to land and use these islands to grow seaweed and other nutritious products to feed more people.
A similar idea came from Jan Henk Tigelaar but instead of an island, he thinks a mountain is a perfect place to grow crops. The idea of building a mountain in the Netherlands first started out of the idea of doing sports like skiing or mountain biking, but now it addresses issues like sustainable solutions for food, water & energy.
Two more practical, smaller ideas came from Nicole Vervaet and Amit Walia. Nicole told us about the enormous amount of cooking oils that is thrown out in the Netherlands, instead of being recycled. She will start a campaign to promote recycling within sport clubs (to start with). These clubs benefit from recycling by receiving funding from the organisation. Apparently in Belgium, recycling cooking oils is mandatory by law, as one of the judges said. Amit introduced us to an advanced waste bin – the Foody bin. This advanced waste bin can convert food and biological waste into biogas, which can be used for cooking and lighting for example.
As interesting as all these ideas are, none of them made it through to the next round except for Chantal Engelen. Chantal grew up around food – her parents owned a restaurant. She remembers that as a kid, she always loved to go to the kitchen in the evening to eat all the leftovers. Only recently however, she discovered how much left over food there is in the world – not only in restaurants, but also in supermarkets and even at farmers’ facilities. The most shocking part to her, was that a lot of products considered ‘leftovers’ are actually perfectly good products, they only look ugly. This is why she started Too good to waste, a movement that aims to reduce all food waste in the world, by turning the waste into eatable products.