NCT: Environmental Quality

Technology Sub Area: Remediation and Restoration

Technical Application: Thermal Desorption

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Center for Advanced Technology (CAT) Lakewood High School,
Saint Petersburg, Florida.

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Task one: Propose an original improvement or new use regarding your team’s technical application. Explain in detail how it works and provide a link to you design requirement.

    Thermal desorption is the process where air or soil is tested for chemicals and then cleaned out. ( Agilent Technologies, 2000) . We designed a machine and named it "Easy Breathe". It is a thermal desorption machine that uses solar power to "heat" the soil. The machine will heat the soil with retractable needles that will come down from our machine, and heat the soil, therefore getting rid of excess chemicals. Since it uses solar power, it will be more energy efficient. This machine will help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals in the air, which will make it easier to breathe, hence the name, "Easy Breathe”. In addition to making it easier to breathe, it will also slow or stop global warming. This machine will lower the amount of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants that are in the environment that normally end up getting released when diesel engines or fossil fuel power plants burn fuel. It will suck in polluted air, use a filter to clean it out, and then release the cleaned air back into the environment. Our product will be capable of being installed to the most affected areas in the world, so it will constantly monitor the air and soil there. After that area has been cleaned out, our machine is easy to transfer to another polluted area. This way, our machine could clean as many contaminated sites as needed, without too many machines having to be built. In order to run the machine by solar power, we will use solar energy pads that will attract the sun's rays. That way, our machine will absorb the sunlight and turn it into usable energy. We think that with this machine could be very useful for our environment, because there are so many harmful gasses. Right now, there is no portable machine that can clean out a lot of air quickly, so we’re hoping our machine can help change the world.

This is our design



    

Task two: Explain what economic impact your team’s proposed improvement or new use would have as it relates to the problem you identified in Component One.

    Our technical application will be movable, so it could clean one site then go to the next. The solar panel will absorb energy from the sun. Solar energy is more environmentally friendly, and is less expensive. It will help reverse global warming, and both our environment and economy will benefit from it. We designed this type of machine so that every country in the world would be able to afford it. Right now, fuels are too expensive, and this machine would need a lot of fuel to work. Many countries like Sudan, India, Vietnam, and Cuba don't have a large amount of money to spend. Greenhouse gases also increase the chances of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, so by lowering amount of greenhouse gasses, we hope to reduce the number of occurences of disasters, and therefore won't lose as much money and lives from the damage. (Bonthun, 1999)



    

Task three: Identify and describe a company, federal agency or academic research laboratory that could carry out your team’s proposed new improvement or new use.

    EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is a U.S. Federal Agency that specializes in helping to clean and protect the environment. They do research to try to make new machines and find new technology to help make the world cleaner and safer. They are the most involved in protecting the environment, so we believe they would be the best choice to make our machine “Easy Breathe”. They have a high knowledge of our problem, and they would be able to help fix it and carry out our designs for our machine.(EPA, 1996)


Task four: Using e-mail, obtain the opinion of a scientist or engineer about your team’s proposed improvement or new use for the technical application. Add this information to your website by including the individual’s name, organization, copies of the e-mail the team sent and the reply it received from its inquiry.

To: Dr. Jeff Gaffney,Chair and Professor of Chemistry
From: Hang P.
Date: 02/17/07


    Dear Dr.Jeff Gaffney,
           We are in 9th grade at Lakewood High School in the CAT program (center for advanced technology). This year, we are participating in the ISTF project (Internet Science and Technology Fair). Our problem is global warming. We were told to invent an idea for new technology that may help solve our problem. Our idea is using Thermal Desorption to help test and clean out the air. Our machine “Easy Breathe” will use solar power to "heat" the soil to drive off contaminants for contaminated soil cleaning would be more energy efficient. Because it runs on the energy from the sun, so it won’t be too expensive. In order to run the heating by solar power, we will manipulate the sun's heat and direct it into the soil. With that way our machine could easily absorb the sunlight and turn it into usable energy. In order to do our final task, we were told to contact a scientist or engineer that specialized in our problem, so we would like your feedback on our idea for a machine that could change lives forever.

                                                                                                                      Sincerely,
                                               Victoria, Hang, and Jordon from Mrs. Dicus’ 9th Grade Class



To: Hang P.
From: Dr. Jeff Gaffney,Chair and Professor of Chemistry
Date: 02/18/07

Email


    Dear Hang, Victoria, and Jordan
        Your idea about using a solar powered thermal desorption system for decontaminating soils has some promise. Of course, you would need to make sure that the soil pollutants that are typically things like chlorinated solvents such as carbon tetrachloride or chloroform or bromoform that were used as pesticides and for pest and nematode control in agricultural systems, or other types of organic contaminants in soils from industrial spills, are all trapped for proper removal. Your machine should not allow them to be put into the atmosphere where they might cause other damage to the environment. The good ideas you have are to make use of renewable energy such as solar power instead of using fossil fuels to run your machine. Doing that type of replacement will lower our energy requirements for fossil fuels so that carbon dioxide and other air pollutants formed from the diesel and gasoline engines used to operate remote equipment electrical generators are reduced. Every time we make use of an alternative energy approach were lowering the emissions of fossil fuels and that reduces the build up of the harmful greenhouse gases. Also, your machine will recover useful areas of contaminated soils and that will then allow those lands to be used for other activities such as growing crops that could be used for food or for bio-fuel products. The recovered areas could also be used for building new parks and areas where trees and other plants can be placed that take up carbon dioxide from the air and help to lower the overall increases in carbon dioxide. By cleaning up contaminated soils with more energy efficient methods that use solar or other renewable energy your doing two good things: cleaning up the environment and doing it without adding a lot of greenhouse gases. You will have limitations for your system of course - it will depend on the area having adequate sunlight - so some places where it is cloudy all the time may have problems using your machine. But where you could use it - it would likely help to improve the area with less impact on the overall global climate problems we are facing from the world's burning of fossil fuels for energy.                                                                                                                      

Good luck on your project,

                                                                  Jeff Gaffney


To: Dr. Marian Johnson-Thompson,Professor of Education and Biomedical
From: Hang P.
Date: 02/17/07


    Dear Dr.Marian Johnson-Thompson,
           Our problem is global warming. We were told to invent an idea for new technology that may help solve our problem. Our idea is using Thermal Desorption to help test and clean out the air. Our machine “Easy Breathe” will use solar power to "heat" the soil to drive off contaminants for contaminated soil cleaning would be more energy efficient. Because it runs on the energy from the sun, so it won’t be too expensive. In order to run the heating by solar power, we will manipulate the sun's heat and direct it into the soil. With that way our machine could easily absorb the sunlight and turn it into usable energy. In order to do our final task, we were told to contact a scientist or engineer that specialized in our problem, so we would like your feedback on our idea for a machine that could change lives forever.

                                                                                                                      Sincerely,
                                               Victoria, Hang, and Jordon from Mrs. Dicus’ 9th Grade Class


To: Hang P.
From: Dr. Dr. Marian Johnson-Thompson,Professor of Education and Biomedical
Date: 02/18/07

Dear Victoria, Hang and Jordan:

Let me congratulate you on an outstanding project. Indeed, it is very impressive and I can see all the hard work that has gone into your final product. The “Easy Breathe” machine has potential and it could play an important role in improving human and animal health. Environmental air pollution, depending upon the specific pollutant, can cause death and also causes many people who suffer from respiratory diseases such as asthma to become extremely ill. It can even cause asthma deaths. We know that exposure to excess amounts of carbon dioxide also causes severe illness and death. Thus, removal of carbon dioxide from contaminated environments can prevent illnesses and deaths and, therefore, improve environmental health. As you know, the incidence of asthma is increasing and it has been suggested that much of this is due to environmental pollutants found in the air. In order to ensure that “Easy Breathe” operates successfully, it will be important that pollutants from the ground and soil are easily directed to the machine’s opening, that materials are filtered, such that only the pollutant of interest and not non specific materials enter, that pollutants are, indeed, converted to non toxic materials and that maximum sunlight is available. It will also be important that the machine is affordable and, already, you’ve addressed this. Finally, because environmental pollution is a global problem, you’ve addressed the availability of this instrument to less developed countries and this is great! You have done a great job in researching and showing the importance of using energy from the sun as an alternative to our growing dependency on fossil fuels and showing how it might be possible to remove pollutants from the air, using this model. Again, I commend you on doing a great job and I wish you much success.

                                                                   Sincerely, Marian Johnson-thompson

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