Homemade cleaning supplies and eco-friendly bath mats are all well and good, but are these products really revolutionary enough to change the world?
With climate change and a world water crisis becoming more serious everyday, it’s good to know that inventors, designers, and scientists are all working toward green technologies that could really make a big impact- if we use them.
Here are some of the most interesting new ideas with the potential to change our lives in the next decade. Leave a comment tell us whether you think they’re the answer to some pressing ecological questions, or just sustainable fantasy…
Jet Fuel From Salt Water
The U.S. Military is one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels in the entire world, and they’re also responsible for the giant carbon footprint as a result. According to a recent report from Natural News, however, the Navy is investigating a method for transforming ocean water into jet fuel as a way to maintain U.S. military superiority even in the face of dwindling global oil supplies.
“The process involves extracting carbon dioxide dissolved in the water and combining it with hydrogen – obtained by splitting water molecules using electricity – to make a hydrocarbon fuel.
CO2‘s abundance, combined with concerns about global warming, make it an attractive potential feedstock, said Dorner, a Naval Research Laboratory chemist in Washington DC and first author of a new paper on the technique, says that CO2 is rarely used in the Fischer-Tropsch process because of its chemical stability.”
Petroleum-Free Plastic Made from Smart Mud
Plastic waste is abundant in countries around the globe, and causing a significant environmental problem thanks to its toxic nature and the thousands of years that it takes to break down naturally. Now researchers at the University of Tokyo, Japan, think they may have come up with an alternative for producing plastic that will eliminate the need for foreign oil and decrease environmental impact.
Nature, an international weekly journal of science reports that, “water and clay (2–3 per cent by mass), when mixed with a very small proportion (<0.4 per cent by mass) of organic components, quickly form a transparent hydrogel. This material can be moulded into shape-persistent, free-standing objects owing to its exceptionally great mechanical strength, and rapidly and completely self-heals when damaged.”
Crop Protection Without Pesticides
Desperate for a way to effectively combat the attack of insects and other pests that were invading their fields and destroying millions of dollars worth of crops, farmers greeted the development of chemical pesticides with supportive enthusiasm.
Now pesticide manufacturers are desperately scrambling to create stronger pesticides, as insects quickly learn to adapt and develop resistances to the previous formula.
“The son of an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor who built window screens following the war, Avi Klayman built upon his father’s trade to develop an advanced screening technique that would protect plants from deadly pests without the use of pesticides. His invention saved Israeli’s tomato crop from ruin following the white fly infestation of the late 1980s” (Natural News).
Since the protype, Klayman has since developed seven different varieties of highly specialized agri-nets, designed with micro-fibers construction to catch even the smallest insects (e.g. thrips), featuring photo-selective technology, making them suitable for everything from vegetables and flowers in greenhouses, to fruit trees and open field crops.
Street Lights Powered With Trash
Street lighting uses up to 5 percent of national energy in some nations – 38 percent of the total energy used in lighting (Global Change). Especially in large cities like New York or Los Angeles, street lights are absolutely necessary, and the task of replacing each light post with an energy efficient bulb is daunting. But what if the street lights could be designed to multi-task?
“Designer Haneum Lee has developed a promising new idea for lighting nighttime city streets by using discarded items as a power source for the Gaon Street Light – a lamppost powered completely by garbage.
The street lamp features a trash can at its base, which is intended for use by foot traffic. As pedestrians toss their garbage into the can, it’s automatically composted. The methane from the compost is then used to power the lamp. (Greenopolis).”
Of course a method for sorting compostables from trash that is toxic has yet to be worked out.
Image copyright Yanko Design © 2010
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