By ZORA SABHARWAL LAKHERA
The theme of the 2019 /2020 FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics championship is City Shapers, and Team No Signal from The Cube School of Technology on Gerrard Stree East decided to take on the issue of greenhouse gases for their entry in the competition.
The team members learned many facts about Toronto and Canada, and discovered that direct and indirect household emissions accounted for 46 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2004.
Overall, these emissions increased by 13 per cent between 1990 and 2004, from 285,884 kt to 321,727 kt. This rise in carbon pollution has increased even more in recent years and shows no signs of stopping.
Also, Toronto Public Health estimates that because of this, air pollution in Toronto currently contributes to 1,300 premature deaths and 3,550 hospitalizations annually.
“We were astonished by the impact greenhouse gas emissions had on our everyday lives. I don’t think that any of us knew how much of an impact we make, and as soon as we saw the numbers, we knew that we had to do something,” said Grade 8 student Liam Sulev.
Each year the FLL challenges robotics teams from around the world to come up with solutions to challenges using technology. The theme of this year’s competition was how to create ways to help plan better futures for cities.
Team No Signal researched many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and made a number of different prototypes for their entry in this season’s FLL competition.
They used the engineering design process and after many long hours of work, they made their invention, the GREENO2. It is an appliance designed to suck carbon from the air inside your home effectively using NETS (Negative Emissions Technologies).
It is attached to a homeowners’ return vent that is typically located on the side of the house. The GREENO2 resembles a standard box. It uses no power as it harvests the strength of the air vent being spilled out of the home and directs the air into the GREENO2.
Scientists at The University of Southern California developed an easy-to-make material that can scrub large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, this solution is fumed silica, impregnated with polyethyleneimine (which is a chemical compound that can capture CO2 from the air). These chemicals release CO2 when heated.
The walls inside the GREENO2 are covered in silica solution, so when the air is flowing through it, the Silica solution traps the CO2.
Team No Signal also automated the capture of CO2 by including a CO2 sensor. Once the walls are full of CO2, the vacuum and heater are activated.
The CO2 is sucked in by the vacuum when the silica is heated inside the box chamber of the GREEN O2.
Co2 is then put into a cartridge that will be delivered to companies that turn CO2 into products, like soap or pots. Once the cartridge is full the process will start all over again. Now, homeowners can effectively use NETS, Negative Emissions Technologies.
This automation also comes with an app.
“The app shows three key pieces of information. One is how much CO2 you’ve reduced from when you first bought this product. This tackles the human achievement feeling. Two compares your progress to others who own a GREENO2. This motivates our competitive sides. And three shows you your CO2 level. This keeps you up to date and helps you track your progress,” explained Grade 8 student Jasmine Sheik-Deeb.
No Signal has been a robotics team for three years and they have qualified to compete in the FLL provincial championships every time including this year.
The FLL provincial championships are set to take place this Saturday (Jan. 11) in Oshawa.
Team No Signal is supported by a number of companies including Clean O2, Fingerprint Publishing, Wonder House, and more.
“I really do think the GREENO2 can make a huge difference in the world today and really hope it does,” said Grade 6 student Ava Bhatti.