METRA has been aware of the excessive diesel fumes for some time and recognizes the problem.
Michael Tupper, acting Executive Director for METRA was quoted as saying, “If we can find a better filter for our train cars, we’ll do that right away. If we need new, more powerful ventilation fans in the train stations, that will take longer. Obviously something that costs a lot of money, we need to find the money to pay for it.“ Tribune, 11/9/2010
Chicagoans deserve Clean Air, not just Cleaner
Michael Hawthorne, Environmental reporter, Chicago Tribune reported in his headline Jan. 14, 2011 article , “Metra promises fresher air soon”, that METRA has initiated an internal air quality study and intends to replace some filters and replace older engines in the future.
Why the need to initiate a study? Modern technology can measure air quality every day, continuously, across all areas and provide information to the public in real time via a mobile app. We all ride the trains to save money, lower traffic congestion, lower GHGs, and lower our stress levels; but, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health.
Traditional, incremental air quality approaches are to replace the current in-service filters with a better filter that captures smaller particles than the first. We tend to think of diesel pollutants as that dark blue cloud we see extruding from exhaust pipes. Traditional filters are very good at catching the pollutants that we can see but miss catching those that we can’t. Why not strive for Clean Air, not just a little cleaner air?
What can be done, and done now, to really clean up this mess?
The 2010 Nobel Prize for physics went to two researchers for their efforts in manufacturing a carbon-based nanomaterial, Graphene. Graphene is “hydrocarbon sticky” and customizable with an absorption rate of 60:1 times its mass.
METRA should leverage recent advances in graphene nanomaterial to remove the hydrocarbons, diesel fumes, and create super nano-filters that catch what common filters miss. Graphene enhanced filters utilize nano-platelets which create “millions of filters at the molecular level”. Since the graphene enhanced filters work at the molecular level, where air borne hydrocarbons exist, the invisible particles will attach to the filters. Imagine a 60 to 1 improved diesel exhaust contaminant removal from the air.
How much more inspiration do we need than the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics at our doorstep and and a stepping stone to the solution. Now, consider the amazing resources at our fingertips in Chicagoland starting with METRA’s commitment to safely transport the public. Add to that some brilliant entrepreneurs, local Clean Energy advocates and the phenomenal nanotechnology groups at Argonne, Northwestern and U of I …
This problem can be solved, but we need to move out of the box, innovate and reach for spectacular results.
Rocket science? No, just new science!
Recognized by Scientific American as one of the Top 10 World Changing Ideas (Dec2010), Stanford Associate Professor, Yi Cui, has combined graphene nanomaterial with silver nano-wires applied to common filters, purchased at Wal-Mart, to clean polluted water of hydrocarbons and bacteria contaminants. (gizmag) METRA should look to these applied nanomaterial processes for inspiration to create a real solution. They should work with groups to functionalize graphene nano-platelets for adhesion to off-the-shelf air filters and use these to clear the air in passenger cars and at the station hub.
My passion and bias; clean world advocate and graphene supplier.
In December 2010, we submitted an entry to the Clean Energy Trust’s Clean Energy Challenge to do just this; create graphene enhanced filters to clean up METRA diesel fumes. You can view a summary of that entry at: http://www.ucsupply.com/news.html
I am a principal in UC Supply, a new nanomaterial supply startup firm providing high-quality, affordable, bulk quantity graphene. UC Supply provides graphene nanomaterial; high purity (96%+), 10 nano-layer and at commercial quantities from 1 to 1,000s of kilogram. We help others discover the tremendous potential of nanomaterial to impact their products and businesses.
We need to think out of the box, push the envelope and clean the air.
Tomorrow night starting at 5pm 250 Chicago-area professionals working in the clean economy will gather for the next Chicago Clean Energy Alliance Event.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania said Tuesday it has issued a request for proposals from companies seeking money to develop and market alternative and clean energy technologies.
The state-funded, Philadelphia-based economic development organization said it can award up to $50,000 apiece to companies that employ fewer than 500 people, are located in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia counties, and are trying to commercialize clean and alternative energy technologies.
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative and Clean Energy Technology Development and Commercialization Initiative.
Companies must match the amount of money they apply for, preferably in cash. The money they put up can’t come from the federal government.
Companies must submit a notice of intent to apply by April 7 and a completed proposal by May 4.
The request for proposals can be downloaded here.