Power Solution Fluency Assignment:
Electricity, we all know what that is right? It’s the thing that powers all our homes, buildings and devices. It is all around us, of course you know what it is! But did you know about the problems that can arise from electricity?
Today, my partner and I will address a problem that has to do with electricity and together, we will use solution fluency to try and come up with a creative solution to our problem.
DISCUSS OUR IDEAS ~
First things first, we needed to come up with a problem that had to do with electricity. Then, we must turn our problem into a question that we could answer using solution fluency. Some of the possible questions that we came up with were these:
- How can we reduce the number of local power outages?
- How can we incorporate solar energy into our city?
- How can we reduce our electricity use?
- How can we create electricity from renewed sources?
- How can we reduce the amount of natural gas we use?
The question that we thought was the most relevant and useful was the last one; How Can We Reduce the Amount of Natural Gas We Use?
DEFINE THE CHALLENGE ~
Despite its misconceiving name, natural gas is a fossil fuel. Natural gas releases many harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and methane, and although it isn’t as bad as coal, it still can cause serious harm to our environment.
Besides its environmental issues, natural gas has other major flaws to it that make it an unfavourable choice of energy. As mentioned before, natural gas is a renewable source of energy, meaning it is very hard to obtain. It could take up to years to produce a litre of it, and the world is quickly running out of it.
One example is our own school. Recently, the school board sent out an email to all the staff of Riverside Secondary, telling them to turn down the temperature of the school by two degrees. This is because we are using too much natural gas and it is running out. While this may not seem like a big deal right now, if we continue to use the natural gas, we will eventually have to bring our temperatures down by more than two degrees.
Not to mention the increasing tax on gas. In BC, people pay about $1.49 per each litre of gas that they use, and some people use up to 500 litres a year! If we made our own gas, we wouldn’t have to deal with paying for gas.
Our challenge was to try and find a way to create and use our own homemade gas, made from home. Not only will we get free gas, but it would be easily farmable and less harmful to the environment.
DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE TOPIC ~
Through research, my partner and I found that many different inventors and engineers have found an innovative way to reduce the use of gas: electric cars. Electric cars run on electricity, so they don’t need gas to start. This was a good idea since most of our gas is used by our cars, since we need to transport ourselves.
These inventors all wanted to use less gas, and one of the solutions that they came up with was electricity. So, using the steps of solution fluency, they were able to come up with the idea of putting electric generators into cars to make them run. Through this, they were able to reduce the use of gas.
Another thing that has been invented to reduce the use of gas are electric microwaves and ovens. Originally, microwaves and ovens used gas to run, because gas has a very powerful heat capability and it wasn’t hard to make ovens that run on gas. However, using the electricity that we can generate nowadays, innovators were able to design microwaves and ovens that ran on electricity.
The electricity development has improved so much over the past century that we are now able to create things we never thought possible. Our electricity has enough power to heat an oven or microwave just as much as gas. So, this is another thing that we can use to reduce the use of gas.
DREAM AND GENERATE SOLUTIONS ~
Our group wanted to take baby steps to generate a solution. Firstly, we did some research about how some communities fix their residents’ gas bills. We found that in Port Coquitlam, there have been some heat reductions rules created so that we could use less gas to heat certain areas.
We came up with two ideas, and for each of us to understand the ideas, we drew them out.
Here was the first idea, using an apartment building as an example:
We thought about creating a way to incorporate hydro electricity into our gas usage. Basically, one idea was to use pipelines (the orange lines) to collect rain water when it rained. We wanted to use rainwater since we live in Port Coquitlam and it rains so often here. Those tubes would then lead the water to a big enclosed barrel. Then, a turbine that is already inside the barrel would generate electricity from the water, and the electricity would power different houses.
The whole installation shouldn’t cost too much. If everyone in the building pitched in some money, they should have enough money to build it. If someone living in the apartment didn’t want this installation, then they would not need to pay for it, and they just would not get a tube attached to their apartment.
This idea is very good, however, there is a major flaw in the system. Powering the building was completely based on whether it rained, and it does not rain that often in the summer.
We decided that gas energy should still be connected to each apartment, so if someone used up all their hydro electricity or if it didn’t rain for a while, they would automatically switch back to gas. Of course, this means that they would still have to pay for gas, but it would not be as much as before.
Here was the second idea:
In this idea, the plan was to generate energy by using biomass, like compost. Basically, what would happen is that compost would be put into a big burner, and the burnt compost would turn into a type of gas called biofuel. This gas is renewable and can be made quite easily. The energy that biofuel produces would then be used to power stoves, lights, and other things that run on gas.
This is more of a refined idea compared to the last one because this one is based on factors that we can control, like how much compost you put into it. While the other idea was based on uncontrollable factors, like the weather. Also, everyone eats food and most people have compost that they just throw away anyway, so this idea gives use to that extra garbage.
However, there are flaws to this one as well. The first problem is that making burners would cost a lot more than the first plan, but at least the energy would be more efficient. Another huge issue for this one is that you would need gas in order to power the burner. If you pay for gas to power the constantly working burner, you would just be spending as much as you regularly do, and if we used the energy that the burner generated, there would not be enough left over to power the house.
DELIVER A SOLUTION ~
Finally, we decided the best plan would be to combine the good parts of both of our ideas together to come up with a final refined idea. We used an apartment in this example, but the same idea could be applied to homes.
This is how our final idea worked. We decided that from our first idea, we would add pipelines to the apartment, and rain water would be collected when it rained. All the water would go to the barrel with a turbine on the bottom.
Then, when the barrel starts filling up, the turbine would move, creating energy. This energy would then be separated into each apartment (or room, if it is a single house), and the energy would be used to power a burner that each apartment would have (or each apartment that would want it). Then, the people in each apartment would place compost into the burner, creating energy that would power lights and ovens. If there was to be no more rain, then the energy would still be brought on from the burner.
We think that this is a great idea because we are using a renewable source of energy to power the home, so we won’t run out of energy for a long time. This is also a greener option, and a much cheaper one too.
I think our group did very well on the discussion, because even though we could not decide which plan was the best, we still used both ideas and came up with a final solution.
Another thing that we did well was that we did lots of research before starting anything. If we were to come up with a plan, we researched it first to see if others had already come up with a solution for it. We also needed to research a lot because we wanted to come up with something that no one else has, so that the whole plan would be only our thinking and absolutely no plagiarism.
One thing that could have went a bit better was diving a bit deeper for our question. Our very first question was “how can we reduce our gas bill?”, which at first seemed like a very good idea. But after some research, we found that there was so much more that we could have said instead and so we made our question harder to find on Google by diving deeper. Instead of just looking for ways to lower our gas bill, which of course there are plenty, we wanted to find a way to lower our gas bill and use innovative technology to create energy using a different source of power, which we used. Our different source of energy was water and compost.
DEMONSTRATE SOURCES THAT WERE USED ~
Here are the sources that my group used to complete the steps of the solution fluency.
All pictures were drawn by the members of the group.
The Canadian Encyclopedia: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/hydroelectricity
Burning Man: https://burningman.org/event/preparation/leaving-no-trace/composting/
Renewable Energy Hub: https://www.renewableenergyhub.co.uk/rainwater-harvesting-information/how-does-rainwater-recycling-work.html