Categories
Materials Planet Care

147: Floating farm

Problem:

Energy is used to transport farm produce from the countryside to towns and cities and to keep it fresh during transit.

Solution:

A floating dairy farm


In June 2019, a Dutch property company called Beladon launched the world’s first floating dairy farm anchored to the ocean’s floor in the middle of Rotterdam’s Merwehaven harbour. 40 Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows are milked by Lely robots to produce 1700 pints (800 liters) of milk a day.

Peter van Wingerden, an engineer at Beladon, came up with the idea in 2012 when he was in New York working on a floating housing project on the Hudson River.

While there, Hurricane Sandy struck, flooding the city streets and crippling its transport networks. Deliveries struggled to get through and within two days it was hard to find fresh produce in shops. Seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy van Wingerden was struck by the need for food to be produced as near as possible to consumers.

The top floor of the cow garden houses greenhouses for clover, grass, and other crops that feed the cows; the middle level is the animals’ floating home, a grassy enclosure meant to resemble a natural garden, but populated with artificial trees.

The cows called Karma, Courage, and Sustainabetty are free to roam in and out of their stalls, and also have the option to graze on solid ground in an adjacent field they can access via a ramp. Lely Robots provide them with fodder and brush them down. Finally, the bottom floor contains a processing plant, turning fresh milk into consumer products, including yogurt and, possibly, Comté-style cheese.

All of this futuristic food manufacturing is happening behind glass walls to literally emphasize transparency. School children and consumers are being invited to tour the farm and watch robots milk the cows and pick up their waste, which is used as fertilizer or converted into energy for on-site use.

To power it, the farm uses solar and wind energy from rooftop windmills and solar panels, while artificial trees with real ivy provide shade for the cows and reduce energy consumption by cooling the space.

One of the Dutch farming organizations that collaborated with Beladon is planning to take the same concept to other cities, and is already developing a floating vegetable and egg farm. Before they move on to chickens, however, they will hopefully have solved one current problem: what to do about that distinct animal farm odour.

The cows arrived on board in April 2019. No matter how much rain falls, no matter how high sea level goes, this farm can always produce life-essential, healthy food. By August, floating production was more than 160 gallons (600 litres) of milk a day.

Van Wingerden has talked to food companies and developers seeking to bring buoyant dairies to Singapore, Dubai, and New York.

Tomorrow’s solution: recycling old fiberglass boat hulls

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Planet Care Human Effort Materials

146: Faux fur

Problem:

Should animals continue to be killed so their pelt is transformed into fur clothing? Since animal fur is treated with heavy dyes and chemicals including chromium and formaldehyde (both of which are highly toxic), it is slow to biodegrade. The bodies of fur animals are just wasted since they are not eaten, while their poop and blood are dumped into water systems as waste. Equally, faux fur made of plastics and acrylics is slow to biodegrade.

Solutions:

Artificial – “faux” – fur


Ecopel, a Franco-Chinese company, has developed a faux fur material made from recycled plastic bottles using a collection system internalized at the company’s mills in Asia. Ecopel works with more than 1,000 employees.

The fiber used, MODACrylic or polyester, allows the creation of a eco-friendly product. The resin is enriched with natural fibers such as cotton or hemp, to bring luster and softness. Ecopel is used by famous brands such as Gucci, Calvin Klein or Tommy Hillfiger and many others.

Fashion designer Stella McCartney OBE also uses a beauty-without-Cruelty Fur-Free-Fur product. In 2019, by Her own decision, the mink lining of a coat that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II wore to Slovakia in 2008 has been replaced with faux fur.

Bolt Threads,whose products are made using mushroom-based leather, are collaborating with McCartney, Kering (the fashion house behind brands like Belenciaga, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta) and Adidas to create consortium to create a new range of faux fur.

In Russia, Sergey Leonov at the School of Biological and Medical Physics, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology successfully bioengineered animal pelts and hides in petridishes. Such vertebrate cells used could come from an antelope, cheetah, chinchilla, crocodile, ermine, leopard, lynx, lion, marten, mink, sable, and stoat, indeed all species killed for their pelts. Marie Vlad has started up Furoid to make and sell the product.

What you can do: Do not use real fur unless it’s a hand-down, instead buy faux fur.

Discover Solution 147: Farms that float

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Categories
Materials Your Home

145: Recycling false teeth

Problem:

Dental crowns, bridges, and PFMs are alloyed with gold, platinum, palladium, and silver, nylon and acrylic. When their wearer changes them or dies, they must be recycled in order not to end up in the landfill.

Solution:

In 2006, Isao Miyoshi was running a dental laboratory in Sakado, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Every day, he visited the dentistry department at the local Meikai University Hospital, where he collected dozens of plaster impressions of people’s gums and their remaining teeth. Back at Miyoshi’s lab, his 12 dental technicians then crafted new dentures as replacements for the patients’ lost teeth.


But then 63-year-old Miyoshi came up with a solution. In his lab, they were making about 30 new dentures a day. People on average get new dentures every three years, because the condition of their teeth changes. Once the new ones are made, dentists usually give the old ones back to the patients. But most people don’t know what to do with them and they end up keeping them in a drawer.

That’s really a waste of something useful.

What if he were to collect crowns, bridgework, dentures, inlays, clasps, gold teeth and other metal extractions, then remove the metals and re-sell them for recycling while discarding the rest.

With 5 grams of these alloys worth around 2,000 yen, once they are separated from the dentures recycle used dentures, if all of the 3.6 million dentures with precious metals discarded each year in Japan were recycled, they would be valued at up to 7 billion yen (roughly $83.3 million).

Miyoshi founded a non-profit Japan Denture Recycling Association and it was not long before the program was able to donate all its earnings to UNICEF and has since given over $400,000 to charity

Founded in 1892, Garfield Refining in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the oldest and most respected precious metal refineries in the world. Recognized in North America as DentalTown’s “Best Dental Scrap Refiner” for 9 years in a row, for Garfield refining is recycling.

In England, Simple Refining, a family run company based in Cheshire, also specialises in gold refining and recycling of dental scrap. While in France a D3E (ou DEEE) dentaires are recycled Récyclum (formerly Recydent)

What you can do: Ensure that yours and your family’s false teeth etc are sustainably recycled.

Discover Solution 146: Faux fur

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Materials Human Effort Planet Care Your Home

143: Face masks – recycling

Problem:

Face masks, part of personal protection equipment (PPE) in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, are also proving a major new source of pollution, with used masks seen littering streets, countryside and waterways across the world. Once used, they can be destroyed at CO2 producing hazardous incineration plants or landfilled, publicly and privately.

Solution:

When Plaxtil in Chatelleraut, Vienne France was started up in 2017, it had specialised in the circular economy of recycling clothes by turning them into a plastic-like material. Since June 2020, it has transitioned to recycling masks.


First, they are collected and placed in “quarantine” for four days. They are then ground down into small pieces and subjected to ultraviolet light to ensure they are completely decontaminated before the recycling process begins. The masks could be turned into a vast array of different objects, but for the moment Plaxtil is turning them into products that can be used in the fight against Covid, such as plastic visors.

At first the French company collected 70,000 masks from the 50 collection points that we ourselves set up in the city, producing between 2,000 and 3,000 recycled products. Since July, overwhelmed with requests, Plaxtil has been in contact with the public authorities to set up a national mask recycling channel.(plaxtil.com)

Not far from Plaxtil, is Elise in Lille who have transitioned their conventional waste collection business (from paper to furniture, batteries or even computers) to make COVID-19 waste bins placed at around fifty collection points in Lille alone.

When the bags are full, they are carefully closed and picked up by Elise’s collectors then sent to their premises to be treated in energy recovery. Elise has been able to treat around 200,000 masks for a total weight of 739 kg.

A third company Cosmolys, also near Lille, recovers the polypropylene contained in the masks to produce granules for making garden furniture.

What you can do: Dispose of your masks in an eco-friendly manner.

Discover Solution 144: The Fairphone

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Materials

139: EnergyXchange

Problem:

Electrically powered ceramic kilns, heated to temperatures of around 1000°C over ten hours, consume a great deal of energy. For just one firing, smaller kilns that operate on a 120-volt standard household outlet will typically draw between 1.5 and 1.8 kilowatts whereas a medium-sized kiln will draw around 5 kW or 8 kW.

Solution:

From 1994, the decomposing garbage (approximately 40 to 60% methane) from a landfill outside Burnsville, nestled in the Black Mountains of western North Carolina, USA was transformed into a source of fuel for pottery kilns, glass furnaces, and greenhouse aided native plants.


Since 2000, the EnergyXchange (now called Earth to Sky Park) has provided rental studio space to over 20 resident artists in a Glass studio and a Clay studio. For the ceramic artists most of the attention has been focused on the gas-fired ceramic kiln which is fueled with the methane gas captured from the landfill.

Discover Solution 140: Enhanced rock weathering

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Materials Carbon Capture

131: Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (“EC3”)

Problem:

Over the average 30-year lifecycle of a new building completed in 2019, roughly half if its carbon materials will come from embodied carbon. Considering that materials used for construction are estimated to consume 75 % of all new materials annually by volume, the case for reducing the carbon emissions embodied in building materials is clear.

Solution:

For Skanska of New Jersey, the USA’s investment in addressing the embodied carbon challenge began in 2016, through its ongoing internal Innovation Grant program. Stacy Smedley, regional director of sustainability for Skanska’s building operations based in Seattle, Washington, received funding to research and establish embodied carbon benchmarks in partnership with the University of Washington’s Carbon Leadership Forum.


Working with with Phil Northcott of C Change Labs in Coquitlam, British Columbia, the program called was jointly seed-funded by Skanska and Microsoft.  They determined that a collaborative, open-source solution, backed by a comprehensive database of digitized Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)  was the best way to maximize the impact of this groundbreaking tool in reducing global carbon emissions.

There are over 16,000 materials in the database, including concrete, steel and gypsum. Professionals, contractors, and owners needing actionable data to make informed decisions about climate impact and performance will benefit.

In the fall of 2019, Skanska launched the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (“EC3”) web tool for a non-profit alliance of AEC firms, manufacturers, foundations, and building owners including the Carbon Leadership Forum, American Institute of Architects, American Institute of Steel Construction, Skanska, Autodesk, Arup, Interface, the MKA Foundation, Charles Pankow Foundation, ACI Foundation, Microsoft and 30 other industry leaders. (usa.skanska.com)

In 2020, Costain-Skanska Joint Venture (CSjv) and Skanska-Costain-Strabag have developed the EasyCabin EcoSmart ZERO for building sites, its hydrogen and solar power replacing the traditional diesel generator. to achieve Skanska’ commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

What you can do: Inform builders and architects in your region about EC3

Discover Solution 132: Energy communities

Categories
Your Home Materials

130: Elevating house

Problem:

IPCC scientists expect a warming world to lead to more extreme rainfall, exposing an additional 250,000 to 400,000 people in Europe to river flooding, and potentially up to 5.5 million per year to coastal flooding.

Solution:

Since 2016, Tom Kelly and Graham Hicks of the UK-based Larkfleet Group, have been working on an experimental house that could rise on jacks above floodwaters. The 72 tons (65 tonne) house could be raised 4.5 ft. (1.5 m.) in less than five minutes.


In October 2017, South Holland District Council Planners gave permission for Larkfleet Homes in Lincolnshire, to build a test house in a paddock in Weston Hills near Spalding. Oddly, the developers, who believe it is the world’s first such home, have not been allowed to place it on a flood plain. If tests are successful the house could provide a model that would enable housebuilding on thousands of sites across the UK which at present cannot be developed because of the risk of flooding.

Once built, experiments with raising and lowering the house, including testing long-term maintenance and operation of the jacking system, will take place. Because the house will be of modular steel-frame design it can then be disassembled and re-erected on another site on conventional foundations as a family residence.

It is anticipated that houses of this design would be jacked up well ahead of the arrival of flood waters, based on advance warnings from organisations such as the Environment Agency. Rooftop solar panels and a battery would provide the house with some continuing electricity supply when raised above the ground and the water and sewage would remain connected through flexible hoses.

However, it is not envisaged that residents would remain in occupation during floods. Instead, the householders would pack up, lock up and jack up the home before taking refuge in temporary accommodation on higher ground elsewhere.

What you can do: Search out protective solutions if you choose to live or work beside seas or rivers.

Discover Solution 131: carbon footprint calculator for builders

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

121: Edible water bubbles

Problem:

About 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are produced in the United States each year, and most are discarded. The properties that make PET useful as a packaging material (stability and durability) also make it resistant to breaking down after its useful life is over.

Solution:

Edible water bubbles.


The idea of an edible biodegradable capsule for artificial edible cherries, soft sheets, and the like, called spherification, was first patented in London by Unilever engineer William Peschardt in 1942. More recently the method was introduced into modernist cooking by Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

The most recent adaptation has been made by Pierre-Yves Paslier of Skipping Rocks Lab. Paslier started his career as a packaging engineer for L’Oréal in the daytime and hacking 3D-printers in his living room at night.

He then decided to study design at the RCA and in 2013, he co-designed one of the first consumer delta 3D-printers. Paslier left L’Oréal in 2012 to start a Masters degree in innovation, design and engineering at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, where he set about brainstorming non-plastic container designs.

He and classmate Rodrigo García González studied the properties of watermelons, tomatoes, coconuts and tapioca to understand how natural foods hold liquids. They finally settled on seaweed as their material of choice.

They called their edible water ball, made by dropping ice into separate solutions of calcium salt and “Notpla” a brown sodium alginate, the Ooho.

You can drink them by tearing a hole into the skin and pouring the water into your mouth, or they can be consumed whole. Containing 100 ml of liquid, the balls can be produced by a compact machine at their point of sale, eliminating the need for cups.

In 2014 Paslier and Gonzales founded Gravity Sketch, a VR 3D design platform and Skipping Rocks Lab, a sustainable packaging company, in London’s East End.

A crowd sourcing campaign as well as its accompanying YouTube went viral enabling Skipping Rocks to raise more than US$ 1 M from 1,000 investors in a mere three days. The manufacturing processes are covered under a Creative Commons license, making the recipe freely distributed and readily available for anyone to use.

In July 2018, they launched sauce sachets made from the seaweed material, which were on a six-week trial at 10 London takeaways with the delivery service Just Eat. Following the success of the trial, 10 London restaurants further trialled this product for 8 weeks, which is expected to prevent approximately 40,000 plastic sauce packets from entering homes.

Ginger and fruit juice shots were delivered to Selfridges department store, and the product was sold at UK music festivals as edible alcohol shots, including espresso martini and tequila sunrise.

In April 2019, when more than 41,000 people running in the London Marathon reached reach mile 23, thanks to Lucozade Ribena Suntory, they were handed Oohos instead of bottles. However, a video surfaced that showed streets strewn with plastic waste after the race was over.

That September, the Harrow half marathon in London replaced single use bottles and cups with Oohos. Paslier and Gonzalez are now experimenting with on green alternatives to cling film and the plastic liners used in throwaway coffee cups and ways to replace plastic toiletries bottles in hotel rooms.

What you can do: Discover Oohos or plan for the extended use of bottles and flasks.

Discover solution 122: The Climate Clock

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Human Effort Materials

120: Edible packaging

Problem:

Seafaring turtles and gulls die, ensnared and poisoned in the net like plastic rings that yoke six-packs of canned beverages together.

Solution:

Edible and 100% biodegradable six-pack rings.


In 2012, Chris Gove and Justin Jeffers founded of SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, USA with a mission to not only brew good beer, but to give back to our oceans.

As part of this initiative, in 2017, they developed six-pack rings E6PR which are 100 % biodegradable and edible, constructed of barley and wheat ribbons from the brewing process. E6PR is said to provide the strength necessary to hold cans through distribution.

The carrier is also designed to be compostable, both on land and if left in a water system where the organic materials are said not to harm wildlife upon ingestion. Packaging is done on-site with the brewery’s in-house canning line, as well as their new in-line labeler for seasonal and special releases.

It took about 18 months for the sustainable packaging to be fully adopted throughout all of SaltWater’s distribution network. The rings developed by E6PR are now used by 35 brewers across the globe, including in Africa, Europe, and Australia.

The industry has yet to settle on a single supplier or format that could fully replace plastic six-pack rings. In 2018, Corona became the first major global beer brand to pilot E6PR’s technology, they are also considering interlocking cans that can screw into each other.

Molson Coors has vowed it would aim for all its packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by 2025. The Coors Light and Miller Lite brewer says an increased focus on finding sustainable packaging solutions is coming from all sides: consumers, retailers, and investors. They commissioned manufacturer Footprint to make compostable, biodegradable rings for a small test run of the craft brand AC Golden in Colorado.

Carlsberg is working with German supplier NMP Systems GmbH in using glue to adhere cans in a production method that the Danish brewer says would avoid using 1,200 tons of plastic annually, or the equivalent of 60 million plastic bags, once fully adopted. Carlsberg is also tinkering with the inks on labels to improve recyclability, using recycled materials in wrapping where plastic is needed and ending coal use at nine breweries in China as it aims for zero carbon dioxide emissions. (nmp.khs.com)

John Kell, “Beermakers Are Experimenting With New—and Sustainable—Six-Pack Designs,” Fortune, September 2, 2019.

What you can do: When buying cans or bottles of beverages, make sure that the packaging is biodegradable.

Discover solution 121: Edible water bubbles aka Ooho!

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

119: Edible cutlery and crockery

Problem:

Plastic cutlery is a major contributor to the growing plastic waste crisis. An estimated 40 billion plastic utensils are used and thrown away each year in the United States alone. 122 millions tons (111 million tonnes) of plastic waste will have nowhere to go by 2030 due to Chinese import ban.

Solution:

Edible cutlery made of flour, and rice and wheat.


In 2005, Narayaana Peespaty, an agricultural scientist specialising in groundwater research, was on a field visit to Mahabubnagar, a drought-prone district in Telangana, India. Peesapaty had ordered a jowar roti millet bread for lunch. He arrived late. The roti had become cold and hard. Forced to break the roti and scoop the dal and curry with its pieces, crunching into them, Peeseapaty realised if a two-dimensional spatula can work, then why not a three-dimensional spoon?

Plastics should not be used for handling food, since they contain chemicals with toxic properties that leach into what we eat. Peesapaty founded a company called Bakeys to produce edible cutlery, made primarily from jowar, a millet flour, and rice and wheat flour in three flavours – savoury, sweet and plain. Tasting like crackers, even if they are not eaten, they are safe to dispose into the environment, as they are biodegradable.

The company has expanded to smaller spoons for soups and desserts as well as small bowls and pots. By 2011, Bakeys had manufactured over 1.5 million edible spoons made from rice, wheat, and millet in eight different flavours: sugar, ginger-cinnamon, ginger-garlic, celery, black pepper, cumin, mint-ginger, and carrot-beetroot.

Several materials such as wheat bran, rice bran, sorghum, corn, etc. are being used for manufacturing of edible cutlery and edible tableware. It is baked at high temperature and is non-polluting from production to disposal. Over 10,000 edible knives, spoons and forks are made per day by a growing number of companies.

For example, Mede Cutlery Company in Zhejiang, China manufactures edible cutlery in attractive colors with new flavours of purple potato, sesame, and corn. Biotrem’s wheat bran tableware production process was invented by Jerzy Wysocki in Poland After only two years commercialising it, Biotrem already produces 15 million pieces a year and they are currently under expansion.

Since 2017, Eclery Foods in Hyderabad, Telangana, India has a fully automated process enabling a capacity of 200,000 spoons per day, which expected to double by November 2018.

In France, former student at the AgroParisTech, Nicolas Richardot, has started up Tassiopée in Normandy, France to manufacture an edible coffee cup, made of biscuit with an inside chocolate coating. As an alternative to plastic cups, once the coffee has been drunk, the cup can be eaten.

In Auckland, New Zealand, the burger chain Better Burger teamed up with Innocent Packaging to create plant-based and compostable packaging for their burgers. The wafer paper packaging made from potato starch and water encouraged their customers to eat everything on their plate, rubbish included. The wrappers are made of potato starch with a taste reported to be similar to a “potato version of a prawn cracker”.

On International Earth Day (April 22, 2018), 500 burgers sold at the chain’s Mount Eden restaurant were wrapped in the material. They even went the distance and used edible ink to brand the packaging, adding their logo and a fun design. Although pitched as a one off activity to raise awareness for the challenges of the environment, since October 2017, Better Burger have saved more than 366,000 plastic items from going to the landfill from its outlets.

What you can do: Stop throwing away single-use cutlery and crockery, try out an edible version.

Tomorrow’s solution: Edible packaging

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Human Effort Materials Planet Care Your Home

117: ecovelopes

Problem:

Traditional manufacture of envelopes were not concerned about the source of their paper nor of the chemical after-effects of their glues.

Solution:

Recyclable and biodegradable automatic insertion envelopes.


In 1997 Emmanuel Druon and a small team set up a factory they called Pocheco in Forest-sur-Marque close to Lille, northern France. Their goal was to manufacture ecovelopes, recyclable and biodegradable automatic insertion envelopes, while creating zero waste during the operation.

Druon based his organisation on “Ecolonomie”, where instead of a hierarchy, there is a four-strong steering committee. Paper is sourced from sustainable managed forests, unbleached and lighter weight, with solvent free ink and glue. The amount of paper waste from envelope cutting is sold and then recycled.

The vegetal roof of the plant hosts several beehives and also recuperates rainwater, which is then used both to dilute ink, clean chines and to supply water for the toilets. This water, polluted by the ink is then sent to a station where it is cleaned by 80 bamboos, then sent back to the building, ready to be used again. Energy from the machines is used to heat the factory, while solar power contributes to electricity.

Before long Pocheco were manufacturing some 2 billion ecovelopes per year. Also part of his Ecolonomie aproach, Druon collaborated with a Finnish paper manufacturers (UPM) so that every time one tree is cut down to make wood pulp , another four are planted in return, working out at 300,000 trees per year.

Pocheco’s Canopée Reforestation: Association for reforestation of the Northern Region of France has seen some 7,000 trees planted since 2009.

In 2019, Adare Post, producers of more than 115 million envelopes with transparent windows, partnered with Pocheco to produce windows made of pulp instead of plastic film. This made these business ecovelopes 100% recyclable and biodegradable, saving some 30 tonnes of plastic landfill waste every year. In the face of internet emails and text messages, Pocheco has also diversified to producing bags for use by pharmacies.

What you can do: Use recyclable and biodegradable envelopes and packages.

Tomorrow’s solution: Sunfire, fuel made from carbon dioxide

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

114: Eco-City

Problem:

The history of the Planet is one of unending conflict between creeds, politicians and nations where the world’s resources are plundered indiscriminately.

Solution:

Auroville,: City of Dawn


In the 1960s, Mirra Alfassa, a 90-year-old a spiritual guru, known as “the Mother”, dreamed of a place where humanity can live united, in peace and in harmony with nature, beyond of all beliefs, political opinions and nationalities.

She asked French architect Roger Anger to design an experimental eco-city in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the Union Territory of Puducherry.

She called it Auroville (“City of Dawn”). The inauguration ceremony of Auroville in 1968 was attended by delegates of 124 nations, who brought soils from all parts of the world. In the mixing of these soils, known as a Yagna began the journey of one-ness.

Endorsed by UNESCO and the Government of India, Auroville is now famous for being known as the most environment friendly and pollution free city of India.

Construction materials used are mainly organic and natural including wood, mud, grass, stabilised earth bricks and fired bricks. In the early 1960s and 70s, a small group of pioneering residents took up extensive tree planting to rejuvenate the barren land and harvest rainwater. There is now a forest of over two million trees and some of them exotic.

Since then, Aurovilians (residents of Auroville) have been constantly experimenting with new ideas and solutions in areas of forestation, organic farming, renewable energy, water management, waste treatment, building technologies and environmental awareness programs among others.

Auroville’s EcoService collects waste from 2/3rd’s of the Aurovilians while the remaining 1/3rd prefer to dispose waste in their own way. 60% of the waste collected is recycled while the rest 40% is land filled. Auroville is working towards a zero waste policy.

In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which was conceived by Alfassa as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection”.

Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquility of the space and the entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called the Peace area. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as “a place to find one’s consciousness”.

Matrimandir is equipped with a solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens. When there is no sun or after the sunset, the sunray on the globe is replaced by a beam from a solar-powered light.

There is a solar kitchen equipped to cook for over 1,000 people everyday primarily uses the energy generated from the largest solar collector in Asia developed and build indigenously at Auroville.

Windmills, mainly used to pump water, are a common sight in Auroville along with many solar power panels that provide energy to almost everything in Auroville, ranging from the street lights to the big town hall. Bicycles or motorised 2-wheelers (and some electric 2-wheelers) can be rented.

As of January 2018 Auroville had 2,814 residents (2,127 adults and 687 children) from 54 countries with two-thirds from India, France and Germany

What you can do: Visit and stay at Auroville and/or apply its solution to your local community.

Tomorrow’s solution: Eco-friendly boat moorings

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Energy Materials

113: Ecocapsule

Problem:

Most homes are dependent on an external supply of electricity, even most caravans and mobile homes which are limited to a campsite. Tents also have their limitations.

Solution:

The ECOCAPUSLE off-grid-no-footprint microhome.


Soňa Pohlová obtained a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) focused in architecture and urbanism from Slovak Technical University, Bratislava, Slovakia and Arquitectura La Salle, Barcelona. With Tomáš Zácek, Soňa co-founded Nice Architects in Bratislava.

In 2009 they submitted a bid for a competition to design a luxurious mobile home that could operate off-grid and leave no trace. During the next five years, Nice Architects were working on the technological and product design of the Ecocapsule in order to bring the best possible product.

By 2014, the development of technology for the Ecocapsule was ready. It is designed to produce more energy than it consumes, as long as the external temperature remains between 4 °F (−16 °C) and 104 °F (40 °C).

Energy for the pod is renewable, sourced through an 880-watt (1.18 hp) solar cell array and a silent 750-watt wind turbine, which is then stored in a 9,744-watt-hour (35,080 kJ) battery that can hold four days worth of electrical charge batteries for later use.

With this energy, the pod can be off-grid all-year-round, and can even charge an electric car. Other energy-conservation features of the dwelling are its high-efficiency climate control system and a heat exchanger that uses exhaust air to warm fresh incoming air.

The Ecocapsule also harnesses rainwater with its 25.3-US-gallon (96 liter) reservoir, which is located beneath the dwelling’s floor. The water is cleaned via a pre-filtration system and two UV LED lamps.

Drinking water is also provided by filters installed on the faucets. The Ecocapsule also features a waterless separating toilet. The Ecocapsule has a central computer that monitors its electricity and water levels, and can be controlled via a mobile app.

The Ecocapsule should allow its occupants to live off the grid for several weeks to several months

On May 28, 2015, nice&wise (ex-Nice Architects) publically unveiled their Ecocapsule at Vienna’s Pioneers Festival after six years of development.

Limited to 50 customers from the USA, Japan, Australia and EU, at a price of US$98,000, the patented Ecocapsule is a luxury item for one to two people, but other potential applications include a disaster-relief shelter or a scientific research station.

By July 2015, thousands of pre-orders had already been made and interest generated among celebrities such as Susan Sarandon.

In January 2018, the company launched production of the First Series Ecocapsules, limited to 50 pieces. The first micro-home is available for rent to the general public in Bratislava, positioned on a footbridge in the Zuckermandel district, with a beautiful view overlooking the Danube river.

A second Ecocapsule was set up in the Netherlands. The company is now working the the Second Series Ecocapsule.

What you can do: If you enjoy camping, make it as eco-friendly as possible.

Tomorrow’s solution: Auroville in India

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Materials Human Effort

103: Drainage socks for plastic waste recuperation

Problem:

For years, many towns all over Australia have been battling with waste such as plastic containers, bottles, paper and vegetation discharged into the city’s waterways by stormwater drains.

Solution:

The drainage sock.


In Kwinana, a town of 40,000 inhabitants, just south of Perth in Western Australia, they considered a drainage sock as developed in the early 1990s by a fisherman based in New South Wales, then acquired by the South Australian-based Urban Asset Solutions.

The 35 in. (90 cm) wide black polyethylene sock has of a stainless-steel sleeve extension and is cleverly designed to pull shut like a drawstring bag when full.

In March 2018, Mayor Carol Adams and Kwinana Council installed two Ecosol Net Tech drainage socks over stormwater drains in the local Henley Reserve. Later, by removing them full of plastic waste and pollutants, they effectively eliminated the risk of flooding during peak-flow storms, particularly in areas where road drainage is discharged into public open spaces and wetland reserves.

During the trial, 815 lbs (370 kg) of debris consisting of food wrappers, plastic bottles, sand and tree leaves was cleaned out of the nets, the plastic sent off for recycling.

While three more locations were identified as suitable drainage points for further nets to be installed following the trial’s success, images posted by the Kwinana Council on social media went viral worldwide, scoring over 25 million views and obtaining enquiries from New Zealand, the USA, Chile, Brazil, many European countries, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Zambia and China.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring City of Cockburn has become the first West Australian council to build a new road out of recycled plastic. About 40,000 single use plastic bags collected by supermarkets across Australia were melted into an asphalt mix used to pave a laneway in Port Coogee.

What you can do: Tell your town or village hall about the Kwinana drainage sock.

Discover Solution 104: Drones on the farm.

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

102: Dopper bottle

Problem:

Single-use plastic bottles end up in landfills.

Solution:

The Dopper bottle


Merijn Everaarts lived near BloomendahlSee beach in Haarlem, North Holland Province, the Netherlands, where he daily saw plastic bags and bottles either left by holidaymakers or washed in by the tide.

In October 2009, after watching a documentary about ‘plastic soup’ Merijn joined in the search for a solution for plastic waste and a better plastic use lifestyle.

Merijn, an entrepreneur in the event and marketing business, joined the local Haarlem Legacy, a group of 25 creative people who were pitching ideas every few weeks to make the perfect disposable plastic bottle for tap water.

In 2010, Merijn launched a design competition. Rinke van Remorte, working at VDL Hapro having graduated at TU Delft, won that competition. Remorte beat nearly a 100 other contestants because he provided a sleek and clean design while also making it durable (lasting up to five years).

The name chosen was Dopper. From the 16th Century, a dop as a kind of hat inspired by the Middle Dutch dop or dopper meaning shell, or goblet or pot. The first real Dopper bottles (certified B-Corp), were released on October 10, 2010, also known as Durability Day which created a lot of media attention. A Dopper bottle prevents 40 single-use water bottles from entering our oceans.

In 2017, 1,687,598 Doppers were sold. The  Dopper Foundation conducts an annual Change maker Challenge where students doing Masters in any Dutch university can apply and participate. The participants should select a topic for thesis either on water management or plastic waste. With 5% of the net proceeds, since the very first water bottle was sold, Dopper has been donating to the Simavi water projects in Nepal.

They are part of the WASH programme. By installing water points and toilets, tens of thousands of Nepalese people now have better access to drinking water and sanitary facilities. Dopper Foundation started in the southern district of Ruphendi, and in the Gorkha and Baglung districts for 20.000 people. When they teamed up with local partner Sebac, they extended their projects to the Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha districts.

In 2018, Dopper introduced an insulated water bottle. Designed to keep drinks hot or cold, this is the first insulated bottle the company has added to its line. According to the company, the bottle will keep drinks hot for 9 hours and cold for up to 24 hours and holds 17 oz. (0.5 liter) of liquid.

That June Dopper Foundation and National Geographic Encounter unveiled a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge in Times Square made with 5,000 single-use plastic water bottles to turn the tide on plastic pollution through Art and education. The plastic bridge replica represents the scale of bottles sold in a split second – 5,000. (dopper.com)

What you can do: Use Dopper and other re-usable bottles such as thermos flasks.

Discover solution 103:

Catching the city’s waste, with giant socks.

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Carbon Capture Energy Human Effort Materials Mobility Planet Care Your Home

Solution 100

Solution:

100 days ago, on September, 1, 2020,  we began publishing one solution per day about cleaning up, repairing and protecting our Planet, with the bottom line of “What you can do!” If you look at our growing Encouragements page, you will see several approving comments for our simple approach. We welcome comments for all who visit our pages, not only on this website, but also your “likes” on our dedicated Facebook page, and you can also find us on Instagram and Twitter.

Onwards to 200 solutions!
Kevin, Jeff, Helen and Josh

What you can do: Follow and share 366solutions and tell your friends about ways we all can clean up, repair and protect our planet!

Discover solution 101: Documentary films to make us aware

 

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Materials Carbon Capture Your Home

91: Cross-laminated timber

Problem:

The dependency on concrete and steel to build everything from homes to sports stadiums comes at a severe environmental cost. Concrete is responsible for 4 – 8% of the world’s CO₂ emissions.

Solution:

Cross-laminated timber.


Some architects are therefore arguing for – and pressing ahead with – a return to wood as our primary building material. Wood from managed forestry actually stores carbon as opposed to emitting it: as trees grow, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. As a rule of thumb, 35 cubic ft. (1 cubic meter) of wood contain around a tonne of CO² more or less, depending on the species of tree.

Cross-laminated timber, or CLT, has become the primary material on the construction site. It is an “engineered wood”, the planks of which are made stronger by gluing them in layers of three, with each layer perpendicular to the other. This means that the CLT does not bow or bend, it has integral strength in two directions allowing the manufacture of plates or surfaces – or walls.

It is a plywood made of boards that can reach enormous dimensions: between 7.8 ft. (2.40 m) and 13 ft. (4.00 m) high, and up to 40 ft. (12 m) long. CLT is a renewable, green and sustainable material, since it is made out of wood and does not require the burning of fossil fuels during production. CLT, however, is below 1% adhesive, and typically uses a bio-based polyurethane. The planks are bonded together under heat and pressure to fuse that small amount of adhesive using the moisture of the wood.

CLT was first developed and used in Germany and Austria in 1994 after Austrian-born researcher Gerhard Schickhofer at Graz University of Technology presented his PhD thesis research on CLT, “Starrer und nachgiebiger Verbund bei geschichteten, flächenhaften Holzstrukturen” (“Rigid and resilient composite in layered, flat wood structures”).

This was partly in response to the death of the furniture and paper industries. 60 % of Austria is forest and they needed to find a new sales outlet.

Indeed it was Austria which published “Holzmassivbauweise”, the first national CLT guidelines in 2002, based on Schickhofer’s extensive research. These national guidelines are credited with paving a path for the acceptance of engineered elements in multi-story buildings.

Many CLT factories in Austria are even powered by renewable biomass using the offcuts, branches and twigs. Some factories produce enough electricity to power the surrounding communities. (tugraz.at)

Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT) and Dowel-Laminated Timber (DLT) have been revived, while stick-framing started looking good again because it is so efficient in its use of wood.

An increasing number of architects now build tall with CLT, allowing the construction of buildings with up to 30 floors for the 180 ft. (53m) Brock Commons Tallwood House, in Vancouver, in Canada, up to 18 floors in Finland and in Sshickhofer’s native country, the 276 ft (84m), 24-storey ‘HoHo Tower’ nearing completion in the Seestadt Aspern area of Vienna, Austria.

76 % of the latter structure will be constructed from CLT, which will save a 2,800 tonnes of CO₂ emissions over similar structures built out of steel and concrete. Moreover, 1 m³ of concrete weighs approximately 2.7 tons (2.5 tonnes), while 35 cubic ft. (1 m³) of CLT weighs 882 lbs (400 kg) and has the same resistance. The same goes for steel.

Completed in March 2019 after two years of construction, the 280 ft (85.4 m) “Mjøstårnet” 18-storey skyscraper, located in Brumunddal, some 60 mi (100 km) north of Oslo is built in CLT. It takes its name from Lake Mjøsa, on the edge of which it was built.

Designed by Voll Arkitekter its timber was located and prepared within a radius of 10 mi (15 km) around the tower. Containing apartments, hotel, a 10,760 ft² (4,700 m²) swimming hall. office space and a restaurant, it has been declared “The Tallest Timber Building in the World.” by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

In 2019, Gerhard Schickhofer, Head of the Institute of Timber Engineering and Wood Technology at Graz University of Technology, was awarded the Marcus Wallenberg of SEK 2 million (US$ 209,000).

What you can do: Live and work in buildings constructed using CLT

Discover Solution 92: Crowdfunding for Planet care

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Materials Planet Care

90: Crop fertilizer from recycled batteries

Problem:

Every year 6,600 tons (6,000 tonnes) of alkaline batteries are sold annually around Australia and the Battery Stewardship Council estimates that at the end of their useful life, 97% of these spent products are thrown away and end up in landfill sites where they leak into the soil, causing pollution.

Solution:

Recycling battery elements as crop fertilizer.


Envirostream is an Australian company that produces a mixed metal dust (MMD) containing cobalt, nickel, lithium and carbon from a 3,300 ton (3,000 tonne) per annum lithium-ion battery recycling plant and ships it to a South Korean company – SungEel –  for refining into chemicals that will be incorporated in new batteries.

In 2019 Envirostream began to assess the use of zinc and manganese, obtained from recycled alkaline batteries, as micro-nutrient supplements in fertilisers. It conducted an initial round of “glasshouse pot trials”, growing wheat in a variety of controlled scenarios including using the recycled zinc and manganese separately as fertiliser sulphates and a combination of the two metals as fertiliser grade sulphates. Testing was also conducted on growing the wheat using no fertiliser micro-nutrients.

From this, field trials are being carried out in near the rural town of Kojonup around 160 mi (260 km) from Perth in the wheat belt of Western Australia, a region that produces about 15.4 million tons (14 million tonnes) of grain annually and serves as a major contributor to Australia’s exports.

The Kojonup site was selected for its low pH, as well as accompanying zinc, manganese and phosphate deficiencies. Adding zinc would assist in making chlorophyll. In addition to Australian field trials, Envirostream, 74% owned by Lithium Australia,  intends to conduct further trials overseas in jurisdictions outside Australia which means seeking out partners willing to explore.

Prior to this in 2018, in Kärsämäki, central Finland, a team led by Mikko Joensuu and Joni Rahunen created a cleantech company called Tracegrow to recycle batteries made in Finland and also use the zinc and manganese to enrich soils for growing food crops.

Batteries are first crushed, then filtration and purification processes remove toxic elements such as mercury and nickel. It is important that these do not end up in the fertiliser as they could make their way into the food we eat so testing of the final product is rigorous. Once removed, they are sent on to be safely disposed of by hazardous waste treatment plants.

Initially, Tracegrow’s ZM-Grow fertiliser was used on tomatoes, cotton and avocados with promising results. On March 30th 2020 Tracegrow was granted an international patent and signed up a distribution partnership for Australia and New Zealand with ReNutrients PTY Ltd.

What you can do: Dispose of your used bateries, single use or recyclable, with care, as they may well bear fruit.

Discover Solution 90: cross-laminated timber

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Materials

87: Cork e-friendly building material

Problem:

Solution:

The cork oak tree (Quercus suber) has a much more impressive layer of cork bark. It’s this tree that cork is sourced from. The cork oak tree is native to the countries in the Mediterranean region.


The forests of the Mediterranean region evolved to thrive despite the low rainfall and frequent brush fires: hence Morocco, Algeria, France, Italy, and Tunisia all grow cork oak trees, but Portugal and Spain are the world’s biggest suppliers. Cork does not absorb water or rot.  Likewise, if left uncoated – it is naturally fire resistant.

Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans referenced cork as a preferred material for stoppers used with wine and olive oil. The Romans also recommended making beehives out of cork, because of its low heat conduction; they employed corkwood planks in the construction of their homes, proved ideal for flooring and insulation sheets due to its noise as well as shock adsorption attributes.

Cork harvesting takes place for the first time when a tree reaches maturity, which is usually at about 15 to 25 years of age. The specially trained harvesters will first measure the tree’s circumference to ensure it’s at least 70 cm when measured from 1.3 meters above ground level. The harvesting itself takes place from about the middle of May to the end of August. This is when the cork oak trees enter their active growing phase.

Although the primary market for the material today remains bottle stoppers—which comprise some 60% of leading Portuguese cork producer Corticeira Amorim’s exports—architectural applications are once more on the rise. Panels and strips are not the only formats for cork façades. Cork is used to make bricks for the outer walls of houses, as in Portugal’s pavilion at Expo 2000.

Albacete, Spain–based coating company Decoproyec makes Projected Cork, a spray-finish material composed of fine cork granules and vegetable resin in a water base. When applied to building envelopes, the resulting stucco-like finish is waterproof and well-insulating, yet also breathable and resilient. Projected Cork resists cracking and splitting, and is capable of extending up to 33 percent beyond its original surface area.

What you can do: Apart from drinking organic wine from genuinely corked bottles – search out other cork objects such as furniture for your home and office.

Discover  Solution 88: being warned about solar flares

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Human Effort Materials

85: Eco-friendly Christmas trees

Problem:

Plastic Christmas trees, silver, white or green, made with petrochemicals, take centuries to break down in a landfill, as does metal coated wrapping paper.

Solution:

Real trees


Getting a live Christmas tree with the root ball attached is by far the most eco-friendly Christmas tree, because you can plant it out and watch it grow over the years

The Marldon Christmas Tree Farm on the edge of Paignton, Devon, England, selling half a million trees a year is just one example. The trees are all grown as organically as possible. Used trees and those that don’t make the grade are mulched and turned into compost – making the soil for future generations of trees.

Marldon is linked with a group that grows 10 million a year, all of them capturing carbon dioxide before finishing in homes.

Christmas over, many town councils offer a system for communal recycling and mulching.

As for the coloured lights on the tree, these can be LED, while the tinsel decorations can be made from bio-materials such as straw, bamboo, felt, wool, cardboard, then stored away until next Christmas.

As for the presents brown paper and hemp string can wrap up eco-friendly gifts, while food and drink can also be organically produced.

A Frugal Christmas can also be a Happy one!

What you can do: Make sure that your frugal Christmas is fun!

Discover Solution 86: Regrowing coral reefs

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Materials

80: Bio-bricks made without kilns

Problem:

Traditional brick-making requires blasting clay in kilns at 2,000 degrees for several days, thereby releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere About 8 % of all global carbon emissions come from brick manufacturing, according to estimates from the EPA.

Solution:

Carbon-dioxide-free bricks.

In Durham, North Carolina, since 2012, a team led by Ginger K. Dosier and her husband Michael of bioMason have developed a building brick whereby sand placed in molds is injected with bacteria, which are then fed calcium ions in water.

The ions create a calcium carbonate shell with the bacteria’s cell walls, causing the particles to stick together. A brick grows in three to five days.

Dosier studied architecture at Auburn University and as a graduate student at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. While working for an architectural firm in 2005, she was tasked with looking into green alternatives for building materials. She later moved to North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park to teach architecture at North Carolina State University.

In 2009, Dosier, whose mother was an engineer and father worked for NASA’s shuttle program, started to investigate potential ways to make masonry more eco-friendly. She looked at how coral was able to make these incredible structural formations that could withstand water and erosion and began really researching how it was able to grow.

She took her research to scientists in Research Triangle Park and beyond to see if the process could be replicated to create bricks. Their opinions were nearly unanimous: it could be done, it just had not been attempted before, at least not on a large scale. bioMASON’s bricks can be customized to glow in the dark, absorb pollution, or change color when wet.

In 2016 bioMason collaborated with Ecovative Design of Green Island, New York to produce all-grown furniture. While the table top was a bioMason brick, the legs had been grown using mushroom technology.

After being left to grow in a former in a dark place for about five days during which time the fungal mycelial network binds the mixture, the resulting light robust organic compostable material can be used within many products, including building materials, thermal insulation panels and protective packaging.

In 2017, bioMason moved into a new facility in Research Triangle Park giving it a capacity to grow 5,000 bricks every two days. Dosier has signed licensing agreements with two U.S.-based manufacturers of construction materials.

bioMason have also developed kits, compositions, tools and methods for biologically cemented structures, used in the farming of bivalves, such as oysters and clams, and also other marine and fresh water invertebrates such as sponges, and other commercially worthwhile sessile organisms.

These kits can also be used for erosion control of beaches and underwater surfaces, for the formation of foundations such as footings for pier supports, marine walls and other desirable structures.

bioMason have also developed cyclic industrial process to form biocement. This involves decomposing calcium carbonate into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide at an elevated temperature, reacting calcium oxide with ammonium chloride to form calcium chloride, water, and ammonia gas; and reacting ammonia gas and carbon dioxide at high pressure to form urea and water, which are then utilized to form biocement.

In 2019, the USAF’s think tank Blue Horizons collaborated with bioMason on Project Medusa to grow military-grade runways. Project Medusa has undergone several tests, including a 2,500 ft² (232 m²) structural prototype in Durham, North Carolina.

A follow-on effort began between bioMason, AFRL, and DARPA to mature the technology and build up different soil samples to see how well the technology functions across different areas of responsibility.

India

In India, Himanshu Verma of the Navrattan Group, Mumbai, has developed a concrete called Navrattan Crete that uses a proprietary binder derived from a species of algae and a guarded extraction process which ultimately transforms an enzyme of the algae into a highly concentrated elastic polymeric powder. Individual polymer chains are linked together by covalent bonding to form one single molecule with all of the aggregates.

In addition, a thin plastic film cross links and permeates the entire mixture adding flexibility. The cement has a higher tensile strength than Portland cement. Its low coefficient of expansion enables it to work efficiently in all weather conditions. The mixture prepared is hydrophobic, and is therefore resistant to water, acids, corrosion etc.
Navrattan Crete also reduces CO₂ emission as its manufacturing process does not require breaking down of limestone or the use of large energy intensive kilns, which is a major issue with the conventional cement industry. In 2016, Navrattan built two manufacturing units in the Punjabi cities of Rajpura and Bathinda with the total production capacity of over 44,000 tons (0.4 million tonnes) per annum each. (navrattancement.com)

What you can do: Tell local builders about these materials and if you are having a building constructed insist that eco-friendly building materials are used.

Discover Solution 81: zero-emission pilotless shipping

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Materials

79: Carbon negative concrete

Problem:

The traditional baking of bricks and mixing concrete creates CO₂. For those who manufacture bricks, there is a PROBLEM with emission of fluorine compounds in quantities hazardous to the health of people downwind.

Solution:

Carbon dioxide-free concrete.


Ryan J. Gilliam, Randy Seeker and a team at Calera Inc. (now Fortera)  in Los Gatos, California, have achieved an eco-friendly concrete by forming novel, metastable calcium and magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate minerals, similar to those found in the skeletons of marine animals and plants.

They refer to this as Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation, or MAP for short. In its simplest form, MAP involves contacting gas from the power plant with natural waters found in abundance on Earth. Many of the crystallographic forms Calera synthesizes are poorly known. These novel ‘polymorphs’ make it possible to produce high reactive cements and aggregate precursors, with bulk chemistries that would usually be relatively inert.

Calera estimates that for every ton of cement produced using their method instead of the traditional one, half a ton of CO₂ is sequestered.

Led by Ivrin Chen, Calera, operates a pilot and demonstration plant next to BluePlanet a 1000 MW power plant in nearby Moss Landing.

The Calera process bubbles the plant’s waste gases through seawater. This removes about 90% of the carbon dioxide and combines it with minerals in the water, resulting in the creation of limestone that is composed of about 50% waste carbon dioxide.

Given that the Moss Landing plant produces more than 2 million tons (1.8 million tonnes) of carbon dioxide per year, the production of coarse or fine carbon neutral – or even carbon negative – concrete is very promising.

Mehrdad Mahoutian, Chris Stern and a team in Montreal, Quebec, Canada have developed Carbicrete, a cement-free construction material.

The concrete employs steel slag and CO₂ as raw materials. Steel slag is a byproduct of the steelmaking process that is often placed into landfills.

A traditional cinder block, known in the construction industry as a concrete masonry unit (CMU), weighs about 14 lb (6 kg). Within that, there is normally 4 lb (1.8 kg) of cement and in that there are 4 lb (1.8 kg) of CO₂ that is emitted.

Carbicrete sequester one kilogram of CO₂, so the total emitted or avoided is 6 lb per 14 lb (3 kg per 18kg) CMU. Mahoutian came across the material as he was researching alternatives to cement while doing his PhD at McGill University.

In 2018, Carbicrete won a CU$2.1m (US$1.57m) grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to build a production facility at an existing concrete plant and reach commercial production by mid-2021.

In April 2019, Carbicrete was awarded the Best CO₂ Utilisation prize by Germany’s Nova-Institute. Carbicrete has assembled a consortium of project partners that includes a concrete maker, an industrial gas company and steel slag handler. (carbicrete.com)

What you can do: Tell local builders about these materials and if you are having a building constructed, insist that eco-friendly building materials are used.

Discover Solution 80: Bricks without firing.

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

78: Human-based compost

Problem:

When people die, usually one of two things happens to their bodies: either they are buried below ground in caskets, or they are cremated, reduced to bone fragments by intense heat.

Cemeteries take up space and crematoria emit carbon dioxide. Both cremation and conventional burial leave just over a metric ton of carbon per body.

Solution:

Naturally composting human cadavers


Zoroastrians had a different approach: to preclude the pollution of earth or fire, the bodies of the dead were placed atop a tower and so exposed to the sun and to birds of prey.

The roof was divided into three concentric rings: The bodies of men are arranged around the outer ring, women in the second circle, and children in the innermost ring.

Once the bones had been bleached by the sun and wind, which can take as long as a year, they were collected in an ossuary pit at the center of the tower, where they gradually disintegrate and the remaining material, with run-off rainwater, ran through multiple coal and sand filters before being eventually washed out to sea.

White Eagle Memorial Preserve (WEMP) in Klickitat County, Washington was founded in 2008 so people could be buried in natural surroundings without embalming, caskets or headstones. It is certified as a Conservation Burial Ground by the Green Burial Council, a national non-profit certifying body.

WEMP spans 20 acres (8 ha) set within 1138 acres (461 ha) of permanently protected oak and ponderosa forest, meadow and steppe on the edge of spectacular Rock Creek Canyon near the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Deer, coyote, cougar, eagles, wild turkeys, steelhead in the canyon creek, western grey squirrels, rattlesnakes, the occasional bear or lynx live and die freely.

Paris has opened its first green cemetery at Ivry-sur-Seine. Part of the already-existing cemetery has been dedicated to eco-friendly burials, meaning that Parisians concerned about the lasting ecological impact of their funerals can now rest in peace.

The cemetery will do away with gravestones, replacing them with wooden markers that the city of Paris has said it will replace every ten years. Coffins and urns must be made out of biodegradable materials, either cardboard or unvarnished local wood, and bodies must be clothed in natural biodegradable fibres. They cannot, of course, be embalmed with formaldehyde.

Katrina Spade was studying architecture when she learned about livestock composting and wondered if the some practice could be applied for humans.

She earned a BA in anthropology from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, then turned her focus to sustainable design while attending Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. At Yestermorrow, Spade helped to build a Pain Mound – a compost-based bioenergy system invented by Jean Pain that can produce heat for up to 18 months.

She first drafted her plans for a ‘human composting’ facility in 2012 while earning her Master’s degree in architecture and design, which she completed in 2013. In 2014, she was awarded a climate fellowship from the Echoing Green Foundation.

This enabled her to start a 501c3 nonprofit called the Urban Death Project involving an urban crematorium (bodies go in, remains come out), but using the slower, less carbon-intensive means of “organic reduction,” or composting. Spade alternately describes this process as “cremation by carbon.”

To research the process of cadaver decomposition into soil, Spade collaborated with Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a Professor of Sustainable and Organic Agriculture at Washington State University. They developed a carbon-and nitrogen-heavy mixture of wood chips, alfalfa and straw.

They found that natural organic reduction turns bodies into two wheelbarrows full of soil within 30 days. In 2017, Spade closed the nonprofit and started Recompose in Seattle, Washington, as a public-benefit corporation. In 2018 she was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship

In November 2018, Washington State Senator Jamie Pedersen pre-filed a bill to legalize this human composting, also known as “recomposition.” This law, passed on Tuesday May 21, 2019, made Washington the first state in the United States to allow the practice. The Act also legalized alkaline hydrolysis, the dissolving of bodies in a pressurized vessel with water and potassium hydroxide, or lye, a process which is already legal in 16 states.

Recompose estimates that one metric ton of CO2 is saved for every person who opts to compost a body instead of burning it. This is equivalent to taking a gas-powered car off the road for about three months.

Spade should start composting by 2021 hosting 750 bodies annually, 20 to 25 at a time. Spiritually and emotionally, there are those who are against this system. They are happy to have their ashes scattered, but do not wish to use the compost of a loved one to improve plant growth. (recompose.life)

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Bob Hendrikx and a team at the Delft University of Technology have developed a living coffin made from mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi that takes the form of a mass network of white filaments referred to as hyphae.

The Living Cocoon helps the body to ‘compost’ more efficiently, removes toxic substances, and produces richer conditions in which to grow (new) trees and plants. The first funeral with a mycelium-based coffin took place in September 2020.

What you can do: When you die, consider leaving the lowest carbon mortal footprint possible

Discover Solution 79: eco-friendly concrete.

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Materials

77: Bacterial colour pigmentation

Problem:

It is estimated that a single textile mill can use 200 tons (181 tonnes) of fresh water per ton of dyed fabric. Not only does this consume water, but the chemicals pollute the water causing both environmental damage and diseases throughout developing communities.

Solution:

Microbe-based textile dyes.


Following eight years of research at the Department of Biochemical Engineering at University College London, synthetic biologists John Ward and Natsai Audrey Chieza developed a microbe Streptomyces coelicolor can produce a particular pigment that might be used to dye textiles a blue hue, using 500 times less water and not requiring chemicals to fix the dye.

The microbe naturally changes color based on the pH of the medium it grows inside, so by tweaking that environment, it becomes possible to create navy blue, for example, or bright pink. With synthetic biology, it will be possible to program the organism to sustainably produce an even fuller range of colors (ucl.ac.uk)

Bacterial pigment is biodegradable, but designers still plan to avoid dumping it into water. Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar, who run a Netherlands-based lab, called Living Colour are looking to create a closed-loop process where there is no effluent that ends up in waterways.

Living Colour focuses only on strains of bacteria that naturally produce pigment. Rather than genetic engineering, the designers are interested in how working with living organisms can create a new aesthetic of colour. Leftover pigment could also be used for products that require less saturated pigments than textiles. (livingcolour.eu)

To promote the innovation, Natsai Audrey Chieza’s London startup Faber Futures has exhibited at prestigious institutions including at the Pompidou Centre, Vitra Design Museum and the Science Gallery, Dublin, and sits in permanent collections including at the Forbes Pigment Collection at Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What you can do: Buy Living Colour clothes to wear and to explain to people.

Discover Solution 78: human-based compost

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Human Effort Materials Planet Care

76: The cocoon that protects young trees

Problem:

Reforestation must also take place in arid and degraded land and saplings must be protected during the first months of their life.

Solution:

A biodegradable cardboard donut to protect tree seedlings.


In 2013 Arnout Asjes, Harrie Lövensteain, an arid land agronomist, and Jurriaan Ruys at the Land Life Company in Amsterdam had an innovative idea: to develop a system that enables trees to grow in arid and degraded land.

This is a 100% they call the cocoon which can hold 6.6 gallons (25 liters) of water underground to aid a seedling’s first critical year. Plantation is mapped using an AI database on land conditions.

In Matamorisca, Land Life intervened in 42 acres (17 ha) of barren land owned by the regional government and peppered them with Cocoons. Around 16,000 oaks, ashes, walnuts, rowans, and whitebeams were planted in May 2018, and the company reports that 96% of them survived that year’s scorching summer without extra irrigation, a critical mi.tone for a young tree.

The three-year-old startup recently raised US$2.6 million to expand its mission to reforest the world’s 865 million acres (2 billion ha) of degraded land. By 2030, the goal is to reach 350 million has – 20% more land than India

What you can do: If you are planning to plant trees in arid areas, check out Cocoons from the Land Life Company.

Discover Solution 77: scarves dyed with bacteria

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Materials Your Home

74: Clothing from recycled plastic bottles

Problem:

The world is awash in discarded plastic bottles.

Solution:

Recycle plastic bottles into fabric thread for clothing.


Thread International produces both yarn and fabric, depending on the need. The company was formed after the 2010 Haiti earhquakes, when founder Ian Rosenberger travelled to Haiti looking for ways to help the devastated people of the island nation.

Its manufacturing process is simple. It heats up plastic waste collected by the Haitians, which is then extruded through a fine shower head-type machine, which then cuts up the result. The method reduces energy consumption by 80% compared to making virgin polyester, but the cost to clients is roughly 10% higher.

The impact in Haiti has been dramatic. Thread International supports about 300 recycling jobs on the island and, in 2015, sent 440,000 lb (200,000 kg) of plastic fiber to the U.S., where it is blended with cotton to produce canvas, jersey and denim products.

Working with a US$1.5 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Thread International was able to move from their East Liberty office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania into a larger workspace in Homewood.

While the company has found success partnering with brands such as Nike and Timberland since its initial founding. In February 2019, Timberland launched a Thread-infused collection (boots, duffel bag, backpack) and Thread signed up Kenneth Cole, another major brand.

Thread’s move to Homewood, provides the company with space to train and employ staff from the local community to stitch and assemble the bags, creating jobs to help battle unemployment in Homewood while also growing their eco-friendly business. Thread has several full-time employees on the ground in Haiti and Honduras to coordinate with local partners.

The company is also looking to expand its operations to Guatemala and Southeast Asia. According to Thread’s website, they have shipped more than 200,000 lb (100,000 kg) of recycled plastic out of Haiti since 2010.

France

In France, Thomas Huriez of Romans-sur-Isère (Drôme) is making denim jeans using sea litter collected by the French fishermen of the Mediterranean, during fishing trips on the coast.

They are encouraged to continue to clean up the beaches and their surroundings, which are full of polyethylene-type plastics, which then serve to create the fabric for the pants in a mono-material. Huriez had already launched Modetic, a shop specializing in the sale of ecological, equitable, ethical, and local products, when in 2013 with his brother Huriez switched to trousers and shoes.

They called their brand Jeans Infini 1083, 1083 km. being the longest distance that can be traveled in France by road number between Menton and Porspoder, north of Brest.

Not only are the trousers made from 100% recycled plastic, they are 100% recyclable and returnable. The life cycle of Jeans Infini begins at the company Antex, which manufactures Seaqual ™ yarn in Spain (80 km from the French border). Infini then dye this 100% recycled yarn, in Pont-de-Labeaume, they weave it in Coublanc, then they make the jeans in Marseille.

Once bought, when the client’s jeans reach the end of their life, they will return it to Infini for free and get back their 20 € deposit. Their old jeans will then be crushed to be re-transformed into yarn and 1083 jeans again and so on ad infinitum. (1083.fr)

USA

Another much bigger manufacturer, Wrangler, owned by Kontoor, has introduced denims dyed with foam, a revolutionary technique that uses 100 % less water than conventionally-dyed denim and also reduces energy use and waste by more than 60 % compared to the conventional denim dyeing process.

Wrangler’s Indigood technology reflects in the brand’s global sustainability goals, which include: conserving 1.5 billion gallons (5.5 billion liters) of water at owned and operated facilities by 2020; using 100% preferred chemistry throughout their supply chain by 2020; powering all owned and operated facilities with 100% renewable electricity by 2025; and sourcing 100% sustainable cotton by 2025. (kontoorbrands.com)

What you can do: Buy this clothing and show it off to your friends.

Discover Solution 75: rain-making across China

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Materials

72: Closed-loop circular sandblaster

Problem:

Taking just the 184 oil rigs in the North Sea, sand-blasting and water-jetting on those rigs causes microplastic emissions that are equivalent to dumping 14 millions plastic bottles into the North Sea every year!

Solution:

Harald Aadland at Pinovo AS of Bergen, Norway, has developed technology which eliminates all emissions from surface treatment of rust and old paint (=microplastics) into the oceans.

Their yellow and grey PiBlast is an automated, fully pneumatic, closed loop vacuum blasting tool intended for dust free abrasive blasting of straight pipes. The for sale or rent, tool comes in different sizes depending on the size of the pipe.

Discover solution 73: detergent-free washing machines

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Materials Your Home

69: Cell phone components, nanocellulose

Problem:

Approximately 150 million mobile phones are discarded each year in the USA. Although cell phones have the highest recycling market of any electronic material only 10% of these are recycled while the rest may end up in a landfill, but more likely to end up in desk drawers or garages.

Solution:

In recent years, researchers have demonstrated that nanocellulose, which is made by breaking wood fibers down to the nanoscale, can be a viable support material for a variety of electronic devices, including solar cells.


John Rogers, a professor of materials science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, developed the method for transferring small amounts of semiconducting material from a large wafer to the nanocellulose surface.

In 2015, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led by Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, collaborated with researchers in the Madison-based U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), to innovate wood-based semi-conductor chips, by making the gallium arsenide electronic components in a similar way but then using a rubber stamp to lift them from the wafer and transfer them to a new surface made of nanocellulose.

The challenge was to produce a smooth-enough surface that also had the capacity for thermal expansion. The final product evolved from the concept of breaking wood down further from individual fibre, at the micron stage, to the nanoscale.

The result is a material which is very strong, transparent, flexible, and, most-importantly, biodegradable, cellulose nanofibril (CNF).

An epoxy coating is added to the surface to ensure a smooth layer and eliminate the hydroscopic nature, both of which were previously barriers for using wood-derived materials. This reduced the amount of semiconducting material used by a factor of up to 5,000, without sacrificing performance.

Their results also show that a transparent, wood-derived material called nanocellulose paper is an attractive alternative to plastic as a surface for flexible electronics.

In conventional chip manufacturing, electronic components such as transistors are made on the surface of a rigid wafer made of a semiconducting material such as silicon.

In two recent demonstrations, Ma and his colleagues showed they can use nanocellulose as the support layer for radio frequency circuits that perform comparably to those commonly used in smartphones and tablets. They also showed that these chips can be broken down by a common fungus.

In 2019, researchers at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) created a new concept of thermoelectric material, published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science (“Farming thermoelectric paper”).

It is a device composed of cellulose, produced in situ in the laboratory by bacteria, dispersed in an aqueous culture medium containing sugar and carbon nanotubes, producing the nanocellulose fibres that end up forming the device, in which the carbon nanotubes are embedded.

The intention is to approach the concept of circular economy, using sustainable materials that are not toxic for the environment, which are used in small amounts, and which can be recycled and reused.

Tomorrow’s solution: a healthier overall central heating system

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Materials Your Home

68: Biodegradable cell phone components

Problem:

Approximately 150 million mobile phones are discarded each year in the USA.

Solution:

Biodegradable cell phone components.


Although cell phones have the highest recycling market of any electronic material only 10 % of these are recycled while the rest may end up in a landfill, but more likely to end up in desk drawers or garages.

Jeremy Lang of Pela Case of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada, using Flaxstic, a bioplastic made from flax straw has developed a cell phone case comprised of 35 – 45% biobased content (plant-based plastic and flax straw) and 55% non-renewable, biodegradable materials.

As a boy, Lang discovered that flax farmers were in the practice of burning their fields after a harvest, in order to prevent the strong flax straw from getting caught up in and ruining their farming equipment. He realized that if that flax straw was so strong, it could certainly be used for something.

Elsewhere Sprint and Samsung have each launched the Reclaim, a biodegradable handset that is 80% recyclable and comes with a 40% corn-based plastic cover. The Reclaim ditches a paper manual for a virtual one and comes with a charger that is more energy-efficient than standard chargers.

Sprint’s phone is nearly free of commonly used toxic materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardant. And the company is donating US$2 from each sale to the Nature Conservancy’s Adopt an Acre Program.

Ideally the phone would be completely free of all toxic materials and have a solar charging option. But these are improvements that Sprint and Samsung will probably make in the future. Samsung has already developed a separate solar-powered phone.

Alongside the case, there is the screen. The Australian National University’s (ANU) Research School of Engineering created a semiconductor with both organic and inorganic materials that can convert electricity into light with a very high efficiency.

Engineers have developed an ultra-thin semiconductor featuring one-atom-thick organic material with two-atom-thick inorganic materials to make a new type of electronic screen.

The compound is incredibly thin and is just one atom thick. The carbon and hydrogen base makes up part of the semiconductor developed by the Australian team.

The inorganic compound is just two atoms. The super-thin biodegradable semiconductor would be ideal for screens and other displays on cell phones. The thin, flexible surface could also be used in an entirely new series of high-performance electronics. (eng.anu.edu.au)

But then there are the thousands of transistors inside a cell phone. The tiniest transistors are now less than 30 nanometers long. You could fit 16,000 of them, side-by-side, in the period at the end of this sentence.

For the internal components, Simon Vecchioni, who recently defended his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Columbia University, is using synthetic biology to produce DNA nanowires and networks as an alternative to silicon device technology.

Vecchioni ordered synthesized DNA from a company, used it to create his own custom BioBrick, a circular piece of DNA, and inserted it into the bacterium E.coli, which created copies of the DNA.

He then cut out a part of the DNA and inserted a silver ion into it, turning the DNA into a conductor of electricity. His next challenge is to turn the DNA nanowires into a network.

The DNA nanowires may one day replace wires made of valuable metals such as gold, silver (which Vecchioni only uses at the atomic scale), platinum and iridium, and their ability to “self-assemble” could eliminate the use of the toxic processing chemicals used to etch silicon.

As silicon transistors (the devices that carry the 1s and 0s of computers) start to bump up against the limits of physics in terms of size and density, the evidence so far points to carbon nanotubes being a faster and more energy efficient option.

Processors (lots of transistors packed together) made from carbon nanotubes could help computing take the next leap forward. This would be by far the most advanced chip made from any emerging nanotechnology that is promising for high-performance and energy-efficient computing.

After the first carbon nanotube (CNT) transistor was created in 1998, researchers made progress by building other circuit elements such as logic gates.

In 2010, Desirée L. Plata, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Duke University, designed a research experiment to determine how chemical bonds are built during nanotube synthesis, with the goal of improving the manufacturability of CNTs and minimizing the environmental impacts of this technology.

Her study was published in 2010 in the American Chemical Society’s online journal ACSNano. But a computer with an all-nanotube central processor remained elusive.

Researchers from Stanford University said that they had successfully built a carbon nanotube computer and their research paper published on September 25, 2013 in the journal Nature. They named their prototype Cedric.

Six years later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, computer scientist Max Shulaker and a team have built a 16-bit processor (the more bits, the more complexity), functional enough to run a basic program, producing the words “Hello, World! I am RV16XNano, made from CNTs”.

In this new study, researchers used rolled up sheets of carbon, each a single atom thick, to form 14,000 carbon nanotube field-effect transistors (CNFETs) – up from a previous attempt in 2013 that managed 178 transistors. The researchers reckon these chips could be viable within five years. (eecs.mit.ud)

Discover Solution 69: cell phone components made from wood

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Carbon Capture Materials

63: Storing carbon in concrete

Problem:

Cement production is a major source of CO2 in the world:  5 – 7% of total emissions.

Solution:

Store carbon IN the concrete.


For almost a decade, Ifsttar (French Institute for Science and Technology in Transportation, Planning and Networks) has been searching for a method to store CO2 by the carbonation of recycled concrete.

Once the Accelerated Carbonation of Recycled Concrete Aggregates (ACRAC) project ended in 2013, five years later a new project was launched called FastCarb.

In this, Ifsttar has been working with IREX (Institute for Applied Research and Experimentation in Civil Engineering) and MTES (Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition).

The aim of FastCarb is to store CO2 in an accelerated manner, to improve the quality of these aggregates by blocking porosity and ultimately to reduce the CO2 impact of concrete in the structures.

This would recover about 20% of the CO2 initially released during the manufacture of a given concrete, i.e. 88-132 lb per cubic ft (40 to 60 kg per m³).

Discover Solution 64: carbon capture by seaweed

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