Monday, December 3, 2012

Robin Hood and the Joule Thief, Raiding the Rubbish to Help the Poor


(The above video "Hangout with an inventor for #deSTEMber" is the live feed of the National Geographic/Google Science Fair Google + Hangout where NG Emerging Explorer T.H. Culhane shows how to build the Joule Thief and run a superbright LED off of aluminum can tabs and zinc drywall screws, creating the "Solar CITIES Tab Torch" that he used in Nepal on an expedition. The video also shows how to make a homopolar motor and a lemon battery)


On a dark frigid spring night in a frozen mountain pass in the Himalayas, my pup tent covered in snow, 5000 meters above sea level, I lay in my sleeping bag reading a comic book. My source of light?  5 super bright white LED bulbs lit by a chemical reaction between a soda can tab, some wood ash from the Sherpa fire, and a stainless steel scouring pad.

We were on a National Geographic/Blackstone Ranch/Mountain Institute sponsored Expedition to a remote village in the Hinku Valley not far from Mt. Everest, but well off the beaten path, 6 days trek across the steep icy mountain range from Lukla.

Our goal was to share ideas for renewable energy generation with the villagers and help build capacity in the region to help them live sustainably in their homeland even as their  forest resources dwindle and the climate changes.

We found that there was already widespread use of solar electric panels thanks to a government sponsored program and the work of many NGOs over the years, but for many families the cost of the panels was still a barrier.

Perhaps worse, the cost and weight of batteries, and the hassle of getting them up the narrow and dangerous mountain passes,  made storage of the electricity produced by the  few hours of sunlight they received a daunting  prospect. And because they need the few small  photovoltaic panels they had to keep their own batteries from deep discharge and ruin, they charge the few trekkers who come through on the way to Mera Peak  between 3 and 5 dollars an hour to charge their batteries.  As a consequence most trekkers brought many non-rechargeable batteries with them for flashlights and cameras, which, once spent, one can find lying scattered along the trail.

The trekkers also are fond of canned sodas and beer, and warm spaghetti,  and because of the extreme costs of transporting anything in the region, the aluminum  cans and aluminum dinner plate foil  only go one way -- up.  They get consumed in the lodges and dumped in garbage pits by the river, never to return to Katmandu for recycling.

Looking at the trails in the Khumbu and Hinku Valleys over the past two years through the eyes of the Zabaleen trash recyclers, I began to ask if there was a way to make use of all the discarded batteries and aluminum foil and can waste throughout the region.

After experimenting a bit I found that indeed there is a lot we can do with that 'garbage' because it contains a lot of embedded chemical energy.  The key to getting that energy out and making it useful turns out to be the humble "JOULE THIEF CIRCUIT".

A Joule Thief is a very simple thing to build.  All you need is:

  • A Blue or White LED (Other colors are fine, too)
  • 2N3904 Transistor or equivalent
  • 1k Resistor (Brown-Black-Red)
  • Toroid Bead
  • Thin wire, two colors (magnet wire works, .6mm)
  • Alligator clips and/or a breadboard
Here is a simple diagram of how to build it from http://trailfriendlyradio.blogspot.de/2008/12/ki6sn-trail-friendly-joule-thief.html

Picture 1
And here is their photograph of theirs:

Picture 2


When I did my first build I used the instructions and schematic from the "Evil Mad Scientists" at  http://www.evilmadscientist.com/2007/weekend-projects-with-bre-pettis-make-a-joule-thief/

I find their schematic very helpful:

Picture 3

The have a lot of great instructional photographs to show you how to build a Joule Thief step by step, so I highly recommend you click on their link above.  They show how to wind the torus with wire.  My recommendation is that you cut a piece of double stranded wire about the length of your arm and thread it through the bead and then start wrapping until you have 10 - 12 coils.  Twist two of the wires from opposite sides and opposite colors together and that gives you your wire to connect to the positive terminal of the battery of to the stainless steel pad (in the case of an aluminum can tab battery).

The contribution I've made recently to a siimple Joule Thief build is to show people how to do it without soldering, simply using alligator clips.  Here is my quick sketch and some photographs of my results:

Picture 4

Picture 5

I use seven different alligator clip wires and use colors to help make it easy to figure out what to connect where.   When using a battery I use small circular neodymium magnets for quick connecting of my wires to the battery terminals:

Picture 6

Picture 7
No soldering or clipping necessary as the magnets hold the alligator clips on to the battery terminals just fine.

Picture 8
The picture above shows one of the red alligator clip wires coming from the wound together leads of the torus to the positive terminal of the battery. The negative terminal of the battery, with the black alligator clip wire, goes to the negative lead of the LED bulb.

Below is a closeup of the LED bulb wiring:

Picture 9

The black wire coming from the negative terminal of the battery  is on the negative lead of the LED and so is a green wire which then goes to the collector on the transistor. On the positive lead of the LED is a red wire going to the Emitter on the transistor, and a yellow wire going to the red wire coming off of the torus bead (opposite the twisted pair).

Here is a close-up of the transistor; note that I refer to it with the flat side facing me and from left to right the leads are Emitter, Base, Collector. Note the white alligator clip wire going to the center of the Transistor, which is the "Base" and acts like a "switch" or a "valve", regulating the current going through the collector and emittor. Think of it as a faucet.

Picture 10

The following image shows that the white alligator wire is connected to the free white wire coming off of the toroid bead. You note that the red free wire coming off the bead goes to the yellow wire which we connected to the positive lead of the LED.  You also see that the twisted pair of opposite side red and white wires on the torus bead go to the red allligator clip wire that goes to the positive terminal of the battery.


Picture 11

In the photograph below we see that the white wire coming off of the torus' white wire is connected to a 1 KiloOhm resistor which is then connected to another white wire which goes to the base (center pin) of the transistor.

Picture 12

Picture 13
Picture 14

Picture 15
Picture 16

As you can see from the image below, the completed circuit is really easy to build, and enables one to light an superbright 3V LED from a single 1.5 Volt battery;


The fact that the Joule thief allows one to run a 3V LED from a 1.5 or 1.2 Volt battery would itself be astounding, because it means you only need half the number of batteries to get the same light.  That in itself is a tremendous savings (imagine only needing to carry half the number of batteries up to Mt. Everest in your backpack to get the same light!).

But it gets better!

Some of you are thinking "wait, maybe it enables you to use a single 1.5 volt battery to light a 3V LED instead of the usual two, but doesn't it just make that battery last half as long?

Great question, but the answer is that the Joule Thief, which works by building up and collapsing a magnetic field around the torus (which acts as an electromagnetic inductor) actually is more efficient than using a battery directly because it PULSES the energy to the LED.  You see the lightbulb shining brightly, but in fact it is turning on and off very rapidly as the magnetic field of the inductor builds up and discharges again and again. That means that though the light appears to be on all the time it is actually turning on and off and saving energy because it isn't on all the time.

But it gets even better:  It turns out that the Joule Thief enables the battery to keep supplying electrons to the light long after the battery is normally considered DEAD.  So the battery actually lasts much much longer than a normal battery.  And for this reason, in Nepal I was able to pick up dead batteries that tourists had thrown along the trail when they no longer ran their cameras, and use them to run my flashlight!

I've observed "dead" batteries working down to about 0.5 Volts.  Normally a 1.5 V battery is considered dead when it reaches 1.0 volts.  But the Joule Thief can "steal" the remaining energy much below that.

And that got me thinking -- could I use other sources of between 0.5 and 1.0 Volts to run a 3V LED?

I was experimenting with aluminum garbage  and a solution of lye made from wood ash from the Sherpa's fire (Potassium Hydroxide, used to make soap in the old days)  to create hydrogen (a chemical reaction I knew  about and used to show my students dating from when I taught Chemistry at Marlborough High School in 1989!).  Hooking a voltmeter up to the reactants to see what was going on I observed a voltage during the reaction of between 0.5 V and 0.9 volt.  So I lowered my concentration of lye to keep the hydrogen bubbling to a minimum and hooked everything up to a Joule Thief.

The reaction was astonishing -- I was able to light the LED to full brightness, just from one coke can tab and a piece of stainless steel.  I had, in fact, created an aluminum oxide battery. And I found that I could light not just one LED from this simple procedure, but 5, all super bright!

This meant that no matter I went in the world, as long as I had some aluminum can tabs in my pocket and could gather some hardwood or fruitwood ash from a fire and had my joule thief, I could run a flashlight indefinitely, never needing to worry about batteries again!  Each aluminum can tab lasted me up to 6 or 8 hours before needing to be replaced.

Here are some pictures of the reaction, using drain cleaner fluid (sodium hydroxide) as the source of lye:







 Note that when I press the aluminum tab down on a paper towel that has a few drops of lye on it and get it to touch the stainless steel scouring pad it produces 0.56 volts as it lights the 3V LED (a stainless steel  spoon, fork or knife,  will work instead of the scouring pad  as well, but more surface area gives more light!)

When you take the light out of the circuit you can sometimes get up to 1.2 Volts from the chemical reaction between the lye and the aluminum can tab.

I call this invention the "Solar CITIES Tab Torch" because it is a flashlight (Torch) that runs on Aluminum Can Tabs.  It will work on aluminum foil and aluminum yoghurt covers too, or aluminum dinner plates. But if you don't have aluminum, don't worry, it also works with Zinc -- so you can carry around a pocket full of drywall nails too, or plumbing pipe, or a bit of your zinc roof:




So the Joule Thief, coupled with my discovery in Nepal of the voltages I could produce from scrap aluminum or zinc and wood ash-based lye, now enables anybody in the world to light their world from garbage.

And that is why, as I sat in my tent all those frigid nights in the most remote areas of the Himalayas, I was never worried that I would run out of light, no matter how dark the days and nights, come rain or shine, so long as I had a source of garbage and ashes -- things we never seem to run out of no matter where we are in the world.  And that is why I could spend my time and energy reading comic books, rather than worrying about where the next civilized outpost was where I could buy batteries.

Electricity is all around us, and through the eyes of the Zabaleen, you can see it everywhere, if only we can, as the song goes, "look beyond the garbage in the streets to see the garbage in our minds", mental garbage that prevents us from seeing that everything we need is often already right in front of us!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Various bios for Dr. T.H. Culhane






Culhane Bio 1:

'National Geographic Emerging Explorer T.H. Culhane, Ph.D., first took courses at Mercy College, where his mother was a professor and Dean for 40 years, during summer breaks while studying Biological Anthropology at Harvard. He began his teaching career in 1987 at Dobbs Ferry High School, the same high school he had graduated from in 1980. He came back to Dobbs Ferry as a young Harvard Graduate returning from a Rockefeller Fellowship that had taken him for a year and a half to Borneo and Baghdad to research wilderness and urban ecology and development issues. Back in Dobbs he immediately started leading student field trips into the Wicker's Creek watershed in the Mercy College Woods, which was a former hunting ground of the Weckquasgeek Indians, to teach biology.
Culhane left Dobbs Ferry on a scholarship to the British American Drama Academy in London and Oxford and decided when he returned to the US to apply the principles of "drama in education" and take on the challenge of teaching science in inner city schools in Los Angeles. Experiencing a great success in merging academic and vocational education, bringing science alive through theatre,  animation, music and video production and computer games, Culhane continued working with 'at-risk' youth from 1989 until 1997, building a program called DEMMO Productions (Digital Engineering for Multimedia Occupations). He won awards as a NASA Challenger Fellow and a Space Science Teacher Trainer with the Jet Propulsion Labs and developed what became known as the "Eutopia Curriculum", which taught students how to design their own better world here on earth by learning about the science of biospherics and terraforming that NASA proposes to use to create habitable colonies on the Moon and Mars.
This type of long term thinking led Culhane to pursue Masters and Ph.D. degrees at UCLA in Urban Planning, working on issues of agroforestry, renewable energy and sustainable development and teaching a class in Global Environmentalism. To complete his doctorate Culhanespent years in Guatemala and then in Egypt, where he and his German wife lived in the historic Islamic slums teaching solar and biogas system construction and working with the Zabaleen garbage recycler community and where Culhane helped create the Wadi Environmental Science Center.
The Culhane's moved to Germany when they had their son 4 years ago and the Culhanes began working as adjunct professors at Mercy College teaching on-line courses in Environmental Psychology and Sports Sociology. With the help of National Geographic innovation awards the Culhanes expanded the work of their NGO, 'Solar CITIES', to several African countries, working on poverty alleviation issues and addressing deforestation and indoor air pollution through their kitchen-waste-to-energy-and-fertilizer initiative. Culhane was recruited by the US Office of Naval Research to spend the past year working with schools in inner city Washington DC and Los Angeles creating an environmental sensing robotics curriculum for underserved youth called PORPOISE ROBOTICS: Robotics with a Purpose. He now joins the Mercy faculty as a visiting professor eager to help establish a sustainable development institute at the school and bring students into the field around the world to apply what they learn at Mercy directly, through what is now known as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) to making a difference in people's lives both at home and in developing regions."


Culhane Bio 2:  

Thomas Culhane is an urban planner whose German-Egyptian non-governmental organization Solar CITIES, which he founded and runs with his wife Sybille, trains residents in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Africa and the Middle East how to build and install rooftop solar water heaters, biodigestors and other renewable energy, water, and waste management systems. Culhane lives in Essen, Germany but spends half of each year travelling to developing countries to learn about and continue developing appropriate emerging technologies that can be adapted to impoverished informal communities. As one of the recipients of the National Geographic Blackstone Innovation Challenge Grants, Culhane is working with Katey Walter Anthony and Alton Byers to develop more efficient food-waste-to-biogas reactors that can be applied to impoverished areas with cold, arctic alpine conditions. They are working with fellow National Geographic explorers Grace Gobbo, Kakenya Ntaiya, Beverly Goodman, Ken Banks, and Dereck and Beverly Joubert to apply these technologies to tackle deforestation in the remote and mountainous areas of Africa and Nepal and to help provide energy and food security in urban Israel and Palestine. For the 2011-12 Academic year Culhane, who is a Google Science Fair judge, was working with the Office of Naval Research on a program called "PORPOISE: Robotics with a Purpose" that teaches under-served youth how to create microcontroller-based environmental sensing and autonomous aquatic robotic platforms. He is now a visiting faculty researcher at Mercy College in New York.   Culhane is a 2009 National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

 Culhane Bio 3:

Thomas Henry Culhane, Ph.D.:

After graduating from Harvard with honors in Biological Anthropology, T.H. Culhane spent a year doing field-work in the primary rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra studying Orangutans and Seed Dispersal Mechanisms as a Michael Rockefeller Fellow and later worked as a science writer. He studied agroforestry systems in Guatemala for his Masters degree and studied  the micro-economics and micro-engineering of hot water systems in Cairo for his UCLA  Ph.D.  

Culhane spent eight years teaching science to inner-city "at-risk-youth" in the ghettoes of Los Angeles, developing award winning science curricula for NASA's Challenger Centre. At Hollywood High School T.H. Culhane helped build a "movie studio" for training youth in the production of science documentary videos. He created the "Melodic-Mnemonics: Science Education through Music and Multimedia" and DEMMO Productions „Digital Engineering for Multi-Media Occupations“ programs, teaching kids how to bring science textbooks to life through the magic of "Hollywood." While  a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA in ‚Environmental Analysis and Policy’ T.H. Culhane committed himself to equitable and sustainable development in his ancestral homeland in the Arab World. Together with his wife Dr. Sybille Fr├╝tel Culhane he lived in Egypt for five years, creating their NGO Solar C3ITIES.

T.H. Culhane, who is a visiting faculty researcher at Mercy College, New York, where he has been teaching Environmental Psychology for several years,  presented at the Aspen Energy Roundtable and the Aspen Environmental Forum and at UNESCO. He is currently a judge of the new Google Science Fair, and the Scientific American Science in Action Award, sharing his belief in the power of citizen science with a new generation.  

Recognized as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2009, T.H. Culhane now wears two hats, working as an urban planner whose non-governmental organization, Solar C3ITIES, works on community and family scale renewable energy, water, and waste management systems, and as a STEM robotics and environmental engineering curriculum developer working for Mercy College and for the Office of Naval Research, helping to ensure that under-served, minority and low-income youth around the world can realize their dreams in a world increasingly dominated by mechatronix technologies.

Culhane, who went to both Clown College and Harvard College and values knowledge and human potential in all domains, has trained residents of some of the poorest slums and villages, from Cairo to Palestine to Nairobi, Nepal and Nigeria, to build solar hot water and electric systems and kitchen-waste-to-cooking-gas biogas systems and is now teaching stakeholders from disadvantaged communities how to embed microcontrollers in their own Environmental Sensing Technologies.

He currently spends part of the year in California, working on renewable energy, robotics and multimedia projects and traveling to other developing countries to learn appropriate emerging technologies that can be combined with artificial intelligence and adapted to the challenges facing African and Middle Eastern informal communities. He seems to think Insinkerators and computer games can help save the world.

 Culhane Bio 4:

 T.H. CULHANE

Thomas Taha Rassam Culhane (a.k.a "T.H.") was born near the Museum of Science and Industry on the south side of Chicago to an Iraqi-Lebanese mother and an Irish-American father and developed his love of
engineering by almost religiously attending the museum's forward-thinking science exhibits.When his Newsweek journalist father, John Culhane, moved the family to New York, Culhane was chosen by
Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus president Irvin Feld to be the youngest graduate of their Clown College at the age of 13 and he joined the "Greatest Show on Earth" the following summer. In the circus, during the Cold War, Culhane toured with Russian and Chinese acrobats, with Elephants, Chimpanzees and other wonderful animals and people from every country and culture, who all got along.These experiences
instilled in Culhane a belief that all God's creatures, Great and Small, could cooperate peacefully and harmoniously toward the creation of joyful productions, and that science, art and industry could be the drivers of positive social transformation.After graduating with honors from Harvard in Biological Anthropology, this conviction was confirmed during a year spent on a Rockefeller Fellowship in
the primary rainforests of Borneo where Culhane worked with Harvard Professor Mark Leighton
studying orangutans and gibbons and then lived with Missionaries and Melayu and Dyak tribespeople. In the jungle Culhane found that most organisms in environments with large biodiversity and cultural diversity quotients adopted "evolutionarily stable strategies" that led to long term sustainability.This experience led
Culhane into "the urban jungles" of inner-city education in the ghettoes of Los Angeles where for nearly a
decade he applied his insights to working with multi-cultural "at-risk" youth and gang kids and
discovered that a focus on common urban environmental challenges and their technological solutions created a context for cooperation, improving young people's education and their peace making skills. (He and his wife, Dr. Sybille Culhane, who taught negotiation and conflict resolution at the Sadat Academy for Management Sciences, apply those insights to connecting Egyptian youth with Israeli Jordanian and Palestinian youth in workshops in cooperation with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Al Najah University.) 

In the late 1990s Culhane immersed himself in Urban Planning at UCLA,conducting field work in rural rain forest villages in Guatemala and earning a Masters in Regional and International Development. He then entered a Ph.D. program in Environmental Analysis and Policy to explore how recent immigrants from rural areas to inner-citycould transform their adaptive knowledge-base to facilitate survival in degraded urban environments while Culhane performed urban ecology experiments of his own in waste recycling, water and energy management and self-provisioning, living among the poor at the Los Angeles Eco-Village.  When his mother, Hind Rassam Culhane , a professor of psychology, returned to Iraq in 2003 to head an educational improvement program, Culhane, eager to find a good dissertation topic nearby, moved to Egypt to work on environmental science education and training among the urban poor. He chose to work with Professor Randall Crane on hot water demand among the poor as a topic for his Ph.D. and with the Zabaleen community of garbage recyclers on local construction of solar energy and food-waste-to-fuel biogas systems for his "Ph.-do". He believes this is home biogas and solar energy systems are the easiest and most logical first steps toward creating sustainable grass-roots industrial ecology systems, something that he feels could unite people of all faiths toward a common goal. He believes, in true circus fashion, that though things may get tough, "the show must go on."

He currently lives half the year in Germany and half in the US, with frequent trips to the Middle East and Africa to conduct field work and urban  permaculture systems training. 

 Culhane Bio 5:

Thomas Culhane is an urban planner whose German-Egyptian non-governmental organization Solar CITIES, which he founded and runs with his wife Sybille, trains residents in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Africa and the Middle East how to build and install rooftop solar water heaters, biodigestors and other renewable energy, water, and waste management systems. Culhane lives in Essen, Germany but spends half of each year traveling to developing countries to learn about and continue developing appropriate emerging technologies that can be adapted to impoverished informal communities. As a visiting faculty researcher at Mercy College and one of the recipients of the National Geographic Blackstone Innovation Challenge Grants, Culhane is working with fellow National Geographic explorers to apply these technologies to tackle deforestation and indoor air pollution and rural areas and to help provide energy and promote health and food security in urban slums.

 Culhane Bio 6:  (125 word version)

Thomas Culhane is an urban planner whose non-governmental organization “Solar CITIES” trains residents in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Africa and the Middle East how to build and install rooftop solar water heaters, biodigestors and other renewable energy, water, and waste management systems. Culhane lives in Germany, spending half of each year traveling to developing countries to learn about and continue developing appropriate emerging technologies that can be adapted to impoverished informal communities. A visiting faculty researcher at Mercy College and recipient of two National Geographic Blackstone Innovation Challenge Grants, Culhane is working with fellow explorers to apply these technologies to tackle deforestation and indoor air pollution in rural areas and to help provide energy and promote health and food security in urban slums.

Culhane Bio 7: (Sept 9, 2016)

 Dr. Thomas Henry "Taha" Rassam Culhane is a faculty member of the Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida, Tampa, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Religions Initiative  and the co-founding director of the not-for-profit educational corporation "Solar CITIES" which helps community stakeholders solve urban ecology and development issues surrounding waste-water, solid waste, food security and decentralized clean energy production. As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer since 2009 Culhane introduced his own designs for low cost  biodigesters to community leaders in  many African countries, including building with former Nigerian president Obasanjo at his home and community, as well as working in  schools and  communities in or next to wildlife reserves in Kenya, Tanazania, Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland to help stop deforestation, soil erosion, wildfires and indoor air pollution. He  has gone around the world teaching others to innovate, design  and construct their own home scale biodigester and vertical aeroponic systems out of low-cost local materials as part of his "food-waste-to-fuel-and-fertilizer" initiative.  For the past four years Culhane has been a Visiting Faculty Researcher and full professor at Mercy College New York,  teaching courses in Environmental Sustainability and Justice, Environmental Psychology  and Urban Ecology and leading students on "service learning" and "voluntourism" trips to share environmental technologies in impoverished parts of the Middle East and the Caribbean.  Culhane has been a Google Science Fair Judge for 6 years and has worked with the US Office of Naval Research and UCLA on STEM science education projects with at risk-youth.  In 2010 Culhane and the Palestinian Wildlife Society  introduced small scale biogas technology to stakeholders in the West Bank and Gaza through funding from the US Embassy, US AID and private foundations, and he has been working with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Alumni Network,  Engineers without Borders Palestine,  Al Najah University, and the Eco-village Network Global Campus,  and the HomeBiogas company in Palestine and Israel on a yearly basis since 2006, working to help ensure "peace through prosperity and permaculture" . Culhane got his Ph.D. from UCLA in Urban Planning, living with and  working on solar energy and waste management projects with the trash recycling communities of Cairo Egypt, and his Master's in Regional and International Development working on urban agroforestry issues in Guatemala.  His undergraduate work at Harvard included a year in the primary rainforests of Borneo, working on community ecology issues with hunter-gatherer tribes. His mission is to empower communities to regain ecological self-sufficiency and economic security through regenerative systems integration, believing that we have all the puzzle pieces to make thriving societies, and just need to come together and  put them together.

Culhane Bio 8: 250 Word Bio for Nat Geo Symposium Program 2016

Dr. Thomas Henry "Taha" Rassam Culhane is a faculty member of the Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Religions Initiative   and the co-founding director of the not-for-profit "Solar CITIES" which helps community stakeholders solve urban ecology and development issues surrounding waste-water, solid waste, food security and decentralized clean energy production. As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer since 2009 Culhane introduced his own designs for low cost  biodigesters to community leaders around the world  to help stop deforestation, soil erosion, wildfires and indoor air pollution. He travels to urban slums and remote villages teaching others to innovate, design  and construct their own home scale biodigester and vertical aeroponic systems out of low-cost local materials as part of his "food-waste-to-fuel-and-fertilizer" initiative.  Culhane has been a Google Science Fair Judge for 6 years and works on STEM science education projects with at risk-youth.  In 2010 Culhane  introduced DIY environmental technologies to stakeholders in Palestine,  and has been working with the US Embassy , the Blackstone Ranch Foundation, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies,  Mercy College, Engineers without Borders,  the Eco-village Network Global Campus,  and the HomeBiogas company in Israel, working to help ensure "peace through prosperity and permaculture".  Culhane got his Ph.D. from UCLA in Urban Planning, living with trash recycling communities in  Cairo Egypt, and his Master's in Regional and International Development studying urban agroforestry issues in Guatemala.  His undergraduate work at Harvard included a year in the primary rainforests of Borneo, exploring community ecology issues with hunter-gatherer tribes.

2 paragraph bio for USF Cuba conference:

Two paragraph Bio:

"Dr. Thomas Henry Culhane is a faculty member of the Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida, Tampa and the co-founding director of the not-for-profit educational corporation "Solar CITIES" which helps community stakeholders solve urban ecology and development issues surrounding waste-water, solid waste, food security and decentralized clean energy production. As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer since 2009 Culhane introduced his own designs for low cost  biodigesters to community leaders in  Brazil and many Latin American, Middle Eastern and African countries. His research involves closing the loop between food waste and food production, creating local resilient systems for poverty alleviation and wildlife preservation.

Culhane first visited Cuba for a week as a graduate student in Urban Planning in the year 2000, researching the country's leadership role in the agroforestry use  of the highly nutritious fruits, leaves and seeds of the indigenous Maya breadnut tree, Brosimum alicastrum.   Culhane spent time doing research in the Havana public library and in the field in Punta Maria la Gorda, where he also explored the relationship between coastal forests and Cuba's spectacular coral reefs. He looks forward to continuing the effort to create sustainable tourism opportunities that benefit local communities and environments".



Bio for Summit at Sea: 

Dr. T.H. Culhane is a professor of Environmental Sustainability and Justice at the Patel College for Global Solutions at University of South Florida, Tampa  with a passion for transforming food waste into fuel and fertilizer, harnessing this neglected form of Solar Energy to not only  cook food and heat water but to grow new nutritious food.  Culhane is the co-founder and president of Solar CITIES Inc., a not-for-profit environmental technology training organization that uses the trainer of trainers model to  teach members of  impoverished urban and rural  communities all over the world how to build their own home and community scale biodigesters and vertical aeroponics food production systems with the goal of eliminating all waste.

Culhane has been a member of the HomeBiogas team since befriending its co-founder, Yair Teller,  in 2010 while finishing his Ph.D. in urban planning  in the trash-recyclers community of Cairo, Egypt.  Over the years this friendship grew into a formal relationship in which   Solar CITIES,  Mercy College NY, the Arava Institute of Environmental Education  and HomeBiogas have worked together on projects for several years bringing students and stakeholders from around the world to engage in  biodigester education and HomeBiogas system workshops in the West Bank, Palestine, in Bedouin villages in Southern Israel, in the favelas of Rio in Brazil, in rural and residential areas of the Dominican Republic and in ecovillages, schools and homes in Portugal,  Germany and the United States.

As a National Geographic Explorer since 2009  who is also  instructor in the Patel College's Sustainable Tourism and Coastal Management courses, Culhane champions the use of small scale biogas to protect the health of our oceans, and has lectured and demonstrated biodigester technology on the Lindbland Expeditions National Geographic Explorer cruise ship, describing how the value they create for organic wastes not only prevents the use of firewood, charcoal that cause coastal erosion  and eliminates dumping at sea, but can solve  much of the plastic bag waste problem contaminating our oceans .  Most recently, Culhane and Solar CITIES have become members of the Clinton Global Initiative and are fulfilling a commitment, starting this December, to bring the Home Biogas solution to the Zataari Refugee camp in Jordan to make sure that food and toilet wastes are turned from grave health problems into solutions for healthier living. On sea or on land, Culhane and the HomeBiogas team believe their technologies are the missing piece of the sustainability puzzle that will help us fulfill our Sustainable Development Goals quickly and painlessly.



Bio for Patel College 2017:

Dr. Thomas Henry "Taha" Rassam Culhane  is a faculty member of the Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida, Tampa, director of the Climate Change concentration, and the co-founding director of the not-for-profit educational corporation "Solar CITIES Inc." which helps community stakeholders solve urban ecology and development issues surrounding waste-water, solid waste, food security and decentralized clean energy production. He is also a a board member of the Rosebud Continuum Sustainability Education Center in Land O Lakes, FL, where he and his wife live off-grid in an RV, using solar energy for electricity, cooking on food-waste derived biogas, recycling their shower water and growing a portion of their food hydroponically.  He is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and United Religions Initiative, bringing Food/Energy/Water Nexus solutions and systems thinking to areas in need.

As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer since 2009 Culhane introduced his own designs for low cost  biodigesters to community leaders in  many African countries, including building with former Nigerian president Obasanjo at his home and community, as well as working in schools and  communities in or next to wildlife reserves in Kenya, Tanazania, Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland to help stop deforestation, soil erosion, wildfires and indoor air pollution.
He  has gone around the world teaching others to innovate, design  and construct their own home scale biodigester and vertical aeroponic systems out of low-cost local materials as part of his "food-waste-to-fuel-and-fertilizer" initiative.  

For the previous five years Culhane was a Visiting Faculty Researcher and full professor at Mercy College New York,  teaching courses in Environmental Sustainability and Justice, Environmental Psychology  and Urban Ecology and leading students on "service learning" and "voluntourism" trips to share environmental technologies in impoverished parts of the Middle East,  and the Caribbean.  
 
Culhane has been a Google Science Fair Judge for 6 years and has worked with the US Office of Naval Research and UCLA on STEM science education projects with at risk-youth.  In 2010 Culhane and the Palestinian Wildlife Society  introduced small scale biogas technology to stakeholders in the West Bank and Gaza through funding from the US Embassy, US AID and private foundations, and he has been working with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Alumni Network,  Engineers without Borders Palestine,  Al Najah University, and the Eco-village Network Global Campus,  and the HomeBiogas company in Palestine and Israel on a yearly basis since 2006, working to help ensure "peace through prosperity and permaculture" . 
 
Culhane got his Ph.D. from UCLA in Urban Planning, living with and  working on solar energy and waste management projects with the trash recycling communities of Cairo Egypt, and his Master's in Regional and International Development working on urban agroforestry issues in Guatemala.  His undergraduate work at Harvard included a year in the primary rainforests of Borneo, working on community ecology issues with hunter-gatherer tribes. His mission is to empower communities to regain ecological self-sufficiency and economic security through regenerative systems integration, believing that we have all the puzzle pieces to make thriving societies, and just need to come together and  put them together.