UI/UX & Product Designer

Carbon Coin (Project @Treehacks)

Carbon Coin

Tomkat Prize for Sustainable Energy @Treehacks 2018


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Carbon Coin is a carbon currency system with measurement and prediction to help carbon emission control.

  • What I did: CAD design using Autodesk 360 and FDM 3D printer; Web App front-end using HTML/CSS and Javascript

  • Team Members: Ziru Ling, Ling Ye, Tianshu Cheng



Imagine your daily routine. You drive to work in the morning. After work, you drive home, turn on the air conditioner because it's cold, and start cooking dinner.

This seems pretty normal. However, do you know how much carbon emission you elicit on a daily basis? Do you know which portion of the current environmental issue are you contributing to?

Carbon emission is one of the major factors causing greenhouse effect and global warming. However, everyone looks at it as if it's not their own issue. It is hard to conserve our environment while not being able to hold individuals accountable for it.

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This is why we proposed Carbon Coin.

Here is a brief introduction:

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If you think about it, the carbon coin system actually contains all the characteristics of a normal currency system:

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And this is what we want people to do with it: People can spend it just as they are spending their money. They can transfer or request carbon coins just as what they do in Venmo. 

Also, government can adjust its currency value by controlling the total amount of carbon emission available. When the air quality is bad, instead of regulating the number of cars on a highway, the government can simply issue less carbon coins to individuals in total.


What We Did

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This is basically everything we did in 36 hours as a bigger picture.

I will provide details for each of the three parts in the following.



In order to demo our device in realtime, we imitated the carbon emitted from a car exhaustion pipe, and created the following hardware device:

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Our hardware contained two parts: electronics and a 3D-printed outer container.

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This is the CAD file I designed and built. The large circle on the top will hold the car exhaustion pipe, and the two small circles below will hold gas sensors.

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The whole measurement system works like this - every driver will be given a certain amount of carbon emission available every month, and the government will charge them for extra use of carbons if they exceed this amount.

Our device will be used to measure the carbon emission amount. If there is an excess, we will notify the users of the additional charge in their personal web account (elaborated later here).



We also developed a machine learning algorithm to predict future carbon emission amount based on current values. This prediction will be provided to government administrators to determine the total amount of carbon coins they want to issue every year.

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Putting it Together - User Interface

This is the web interface I built that puts together the data from both measurement and prediction.

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The Web App will have portals for both end users and government administrators. 

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The transaction is based on realtime measurement from our hardware device.

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The data center gave out predictions for administrators. All the numbers here are changing realtime.

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Our website is currently hosted on AWS. 

Try it out here!


Carbon Coin - Look Ahead

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Special thanks to my team for their devotion, and @Treehacks organizers for this amazing opportunity!!


P.S: For those of you who don't know, Stanford at 4am is AMAZING. There are tons of white birds and rabbits on the oval grass, and plenty of stars in the sky :)