Component 1

 

Task One: Describe in detail the problem your team selected and explain why it is important for your team to investigate the problem.


        In today’s society, we produce a lot of garbage just through daily life.  From eating a bowl of cereal at home to a factory making a pound of plastic, it is inevitable.  What happens to all this garbage?  It’s put in giant landfills left to rot away and decompose.  It also takes up valuable space and kills the environment.  Decomposing can take years, and in that time all the garbage just kills the earth.  If there was a way to decompose all the garbage in only a day then garbage disposal would not be an issue.  Not only would the earth be cleaner, there would be more space to work with.  That is what we decide to fix with our device.


Task Two: Describe how your team decided on the problem you are investigating and explain what steps you took to narrow the focus of your investigation.


        The average American produces 4.5 pounds per day, which is a substantial amount. In a lifetime, about 90,000 lbs are produced. This is almost twice as much trash per person as most other major countries.  The pollution from landfills all over the world is harmful to humans and the environment. We have brainstormed and tried to come up with a solution to combat this problem. All 3 of us agree that this is a growing problem, and proposed the idea of converting biomass into useable energy. Currently, some biomass is being used to produce energy. For example, ethanol is being burned to produce ethanol, which is an alternative to fuel. In doing so, gasoline is being saved. Since biomass is produced every day, it is the easiest source for energy. We narrowed our focus to how to produce energy from biomass. To produce energy, we plan on burning the biomass in a specialized container. Since this is currently being done, we plan to install these specialized containers in households. This growing problem came to our attention, and we agreed on making a product on a much smaller scale. Instead of turning large amounts of biomass to energy, we plan on doing a similar process, but on a smaller scale. 
http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html


Task Three: two geographic sites or two population groups have been affected by the problem your team identified Locate and document (using facts and figures) and describe how: two organizations, educational institutions or research facilities are doing significant research to solve the problem your team identified. 


        The biggest landfill in the world is not on land. In fact, it is America’s very Pacific Ocean and is called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. This gyre gave birth to two more large garbage masses, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, sometimes collectivelyalled the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California and the Western Patch is east of Japan and west of Hawaii. The two garbage patches are connected by a thin 6000 mile current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone. This garbage affects two main populations; marine life and tourists. According to the LA Times, “Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world's oceans. The United Nations Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. The world produces 200 billion pounds of plastic anually, and about ten percent ends up in the ocean floor.
Two organizations that conduct significant research to solve the problem Trash Energy identified are:

  1. National Renewable Energy Laboratory—This institution has conducted researches on renewable energies which includes waste incineration (http://www.nrel.gov/biomass/national_bioenergy.html)
  2. AVA econ industries—This organization deals with industrial and hazardous waste technologies. They developed/renovated the incinerator technology. (http://www.environmentalexpert.com/STSE_resultEach.aspx?cid=20773&idprofile=8146&section=2&word=waste+incineration

Task Four: Document (using two different sources based on facts and figures) what effect this problem has on people's lives.        

        Today’s society is greatly threatened by the amount of trash and the lack of energy. The society functions on energy. However, the United States cannot generate enough energy to support the household and private industries. In order to supply the demand of energy, the United States import energy from China. Thankfully, there is a solution to the problem. By converting trash to energy, the American society can supply energy and get rid of trash.



U.S. Energy Consumption by Fuel (1980-20 30) (quadrillion Btu)

 

1990

2002

2003

2010

Oil

40.5

46.3

47.2

52.3

Natural Gas

23.2

28.4

28.3

30.6

Coal

20.7

24.0

24.4

27.3

Total Amount of Energy Consumption

It is reasonably to conclude that the use of electricity has increased. Although the graph does not directly illustrate the increased usage of electricity, it is implied by the increased use of energy consumption.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/forecasting.html


Task Five: Document (using two different sources based on facts and figures) the impact the problem has on the economy of our nation or on your community.


         Landfills take up a lot of land, and since land is scarce, it costs a lot to dump garbage in landfills.  And with the demand of disposing garbage increasing, more land needs to be bought.  Since the land is expensive, it costs more to dump garbage and the cycle continues.  It costs $82 a ton to dump trash in landfills, up from $65 a ton in 1997.  The price is only going to increase and will soon be too expensive for some businesses to dump trash.  With an easier way to dump trash that will give energy at the same time would help the economy and solve the problem.
http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-facts.html

http://www.zerowasteamerica.org/Landfills.htm