Cars are America’s largest source of CO2 emission, amounting to 1.9 billion tons of CO2 per year. In an age when the apocalyptic consequences of climate change have been scientifically proven, the fact that such environmentally destructive devices are so prevalent indicates a technological deficiency that should have been addressed years ago. Our primary goal was to reduce the amount of vehicle CO2 emissions directly from the source – the car exhaust pipes. Additionally, our secondary goal was to provide strong incentives for corporations and individuals to use our device so that they support our goal of reducing CO2 emissions.
What it does
The ARC Scrubber is fed exhaust directly from a vehicle exhaust pipe. This exhaust air, composed of N2, H2O, CO2, and particulate matter, passes through a turbine that powers the onboard control system. The exhaust passes through two filter levels: first, it passes through a filter that removes particulate matter. This particulate matter is linked to smog, asthma, and other respiratory issues. Next, the exhaust passes through a honeycomb lattice filter and electrolysis chamber covered in a palladium catalyst and containing Ag electrodes. This filter converts CO2 into a variety of useful carbon compounds useful chemical feedstock for labs and factories, ranging from C1 to C9 in size. This chamber reduces CO2 emissions by up to 95% and the resulting carbon compounds are stored in a cartridge that can be sent back to the device manufacturer so the carbon compounds can be used in factories, thus eliminating factory waste. The Qualcomm Dragonboard control system, powered by turbine and backup batteries, collects GPS, temperature, and air quality (before and after filtration) data and reports it to the Google Cloud Platform when a Bluetooth/WiFi connection is established. The system integrates with Google Cloud Platform for car companies and individuals to view analytics and personal data. The system also integrates with a web platform where this information can be viewed.
How we built it
We built the Arc Scrubber prototype using SolidWorks and the Qualcomm Dragon Board. Using Solidworks, we were able to create a scrubber model with specifications to accommodate for the exhaust and Dragon Board circuit. It was 3D printed to display the size and filtration system that was built into it for visual representation. As for the Dragon Board, we were able to attach a grove shield to the Dragon Board 410c. This grove board had a temperature and air quality sensor wired into the respective pins. The program was written in Python on the QTerminal program the sensors to collect data periodically. The Dragon Board is inserted into a specific portion of the Scrubber to collect and record data.
Challenges we ran into
One of our main concerns upon brainstorming the usability and drive for users to purchase was, “How will this differ from other eco-friendly devices and create a more approachable item for users to buy”. Although the overall idea of our product will greatly benefit not only the environment, but companies as well, we were puzzled on how we can get users to actually invest in this product. This was one of the most challenging aspects as the awareness of Climate Change and its effects are present, but the drive to actually enact into those solutions and purchase innovative equipment to better the environment isn’t very acted upon. Moreover, upon reviewing other solutions that are in the market, such as Electric Vehicles, and their relation to the government, we quickly began to brainstorm how we could take advantage of those benefits they receive. Through ARC Scrubbers, we can provide incentives to car companies such as tax reduction for companies or providing tax rebates to the consumers. All in all, this would enable both the government and the consumers to react positively and essentially invest in our product for the overall benefit of the world.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
By tackling these challenges, our group is extremely proud of using our different background skills such as biomedical engineering, economics and computer science to build the ARC Scrubber. By utilizing all of these skills, the construction of the ARC Scrubber was possible and the programming of the Dragon Board was well executed. A complicated accomplishment that was executed through this challenge is that the data that is collected from the dragon board is transmitted to the Google Cloud Platform and stored so that the analytics can be performed. The physical product was created using Solid Works and 3D printed. Another accomplishment that we are extremely proud of is the removable and replaceable filter cartridges that was implemented into the design of the ARC Scrubber. Finally, we developed a strategy to pitch the product to the US government and other governments to incentivize the use of our product. A combination of these efforts make the ARC Scrubber a reliable and efficient prototype to reduce the pollutants produced by vehicle exhaust.
What we learned
By tackling this challenge we learned various skills that were applied to the construction of the ARC Scrubber. As a team, we became knowledgeable about the pollutants emitted from vehicle exhaust and how to counter it using the Scrubber prototype. We learned how to utilize the IOT software of the Dragon Board to collect and transmit data via bluetooth. Not only that, but to also program the sensors using Python code instead of arduino. Also we learned how to store the data collected onto the Google Cloud Platform periodically. Finally we also learned how to navigate the domain.com website to our specifications and display the information that was collected.
What's next for ARC Scrubber
Hopefully, the next step for ARC Scrubber would include expansion in many ways. Air pollution is not only limited to personal vehicles such as cars, but also vehicles such as boats, trains, and busses. At ARC Scrubber, we will definitively attempt to expand throughout the United States and increase the awareness of emission pollution and to create a country wide policy which will lead to the elimination (or close to) of air pollution. If this device is easily implemented into cars, we can also implement this strategical access to all of the varying vehicles, so it would not consume much of the users time. Also, if the applicability would spread throughout the government, our aim would be to essentially create a law which creates a demand for the usability of this product. Lastly, the next step forward would be to create automatic replacing cartages, so the input from the actual in eliminated. This would lead to them annually replacing the entire scrubber upon inspection of the users car.