Categories
Materials Your Home

335: Soapbottle

Problem:

On average, we use eleven bottles of shower gel and ten bottles of shampoo every year, resulting in about 75 kilotons of plastic waste — about a thousand full olympic swimming pools. but why is a product that is used for about a month made of a material that takes an average of 500 years to disintegrate?

Solution:

A packaging made from soap.


Developed by Berlin-based designer Jonna Breitenhuber, SOAPBOTTLE aims to solve this problem by creating a packaging for liquid washing substances from soap. As the content within is being used, the soap packaging very gradually dissolves. As in the case of the ice cream wafer for example, the „wrapper“ can even be used completely.

When finished, remnants can be used again, as hand soap or processed into detergents. Soap is made of natural ingredients and is biodegradable: waste can be completely avoided

Soapbottle is being promoted and sold by Patrick Munsters and Carel Neuberg founders of Marie-Stella-Maris, an Amsterdam-based lifestyle brand that is committed to increasing access to clean drinking water worldwide.

What you can do: Buy and use SoapBottle products

Discover Solution 336: Flexible and portable water turbine

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Materials

334: Recycled asphalt (RA or RAP)

Problem:

Under normal circumstances, a road building or renovation project consisting of two or three asphalt layers which are installed successively, would require 25,000 truck journeys of 70km, to bring the material to the site.

Solution:

Recycled asphalt (RA or RAP)


Ammann Group Holding AG is a Swiss mechanical engineering company specialised on machines for the building industry and road construction.

In Ariolo, a municipality in the Swiss Alps, Ammann is working on a €240 million project to completely renovate a 10km stretch of the N2 motorway. The work is due to be completed in 2022, but challenges include the fact that the current road base consists of material created during the excavation of the nearby Gotthard Base tunnel – the aggregate has a fine-grain content of more than 8%, meaning it is not frost-resistant.

The project is proceeding under the auspices of the Federal Roads Office (Astra), which has stipulated that the materials that form the current road base be processed on site and reused in the new asphalt mix.

In addition to this, however, the project planners calculated that transport of 55,000 tonnes of gravel would be required, as well as almost 400,000 tonnes of asphalt, of which 140,000 tonnes would be reclaimed.

For this reason, an area beside the motorway was provided for asphalt preparation and production. On the site – a former military airfield – an asphalt crushing plant, an ABP 240 HRT asphalt mixing plant and a gravel washing plant were all installed adjacent to the N2 motorway in the Swiss Alps

In the RAH100 system, the recycled asphalt is heated by a counter-current process. Rocks and bitumen are indirectly and evenly heated and protected from overheating. The plant can produce between 240 and 310 tonnes per hour of asphalt depending on moisture levels.

Ammann’s solution has crossed the Atlantic where Ryan Smith has set up RAP Management on a site near John Glenn Columbus International Airport Columbus, Ohio. From here a fleet of almost 200 trucks drop off loads of old road material, while others haul away new hot mix for parking lots and streets.

Discover Solution 335: Packaging made from soap.

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Carbon Capture Materials

333: Plastic from waste CO₂

Problem:

Once captured, CO₂ must be recycled.

Solution:

Phil De Luna and a team at the University of Toronto, Canada have found a way to recycle waste CO₂ back into ethylene, the raw material used to make the most commonly used plastic, polyethylene.

The team used a technique involving X-ray spectroscopy and computer modelling techniques at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) facility at the University of Saskatchewan – analysing matter with electromagnetic radiation to identify their key catalyst.

And it was thanks to a new piece of equipment developed by CLS senior scientist Tom Regier that the researchers were able to study both the shape and the chemical environment of the catalyst in real time. The researchers worked out how to control the reaction so that ethylene production was maximised, while waste products such as methane were kept to a minimum.

Armed with this new knowledge and a suitable carbon capture technology, we could potentially remove CO₂ from the atmosphere while producing plastics in an environmentally friendly way at the same time. Further research is required to refine the technique, but we now have one of the basic building blocks

For his breakthrough in 2019, De Luna was named in the 2019 Forbes Top 30 under 30 Energy List.

Discover Solution 334: Recycled asphalt (RA or RAP)

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Your Home Materials

332: Biodegradable toy bricks

Problem:

In 1919, the rubber shoe heel manufacturer Premo in Petersfield, England produced Minibrix, made of hard rubber which had the ability to deform under pressure to allow firm interlocking of studs and holes.

Then in 1949 Ole Kirk Christiansen of the LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark began producing plastic toys which included interlocking bricks of different colors.

Available in 53 different colours, more than 400 billion LEGO bricks have been produced in seventy years, with 19 billion LEGO elements produced every year. 2.16 million LEGO elements molded every hour, or 36,000 per minute.

This makes LEGO the world’s biggest toymaker. Since 1963, LEGO bricks have been made with a strong, oil-based plastic known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. While boxes of LEGO are usually handed down in families are passed on, a proportion end up in landfills.

Solution:

Biodegradable bricks
For centuries, off cuts left on the woodworker’s bench had been used by their children to balance on top of each other. In 1837, Friedrich Fröbel built specific wooden building blocks to teach the alphabet and numbers for use in his preschool kindergartens.

In 2012 LEGO pledged to find and start using sustainable alternatives to its raw materials by 2030. Realizing the scale of the challenge, it later invested US$150 million to hire almost one hundred scientists and fund research and development.

During seven years, LEGO kept hitting brick walls. They tried making pieces from corn, but they were too soft. Its wheat-based bricks did not absorb color evenly or have the requisite shine. Bricks made from other materials proved too hard to pull apart, broke or had what executives call “creep,” when bricks lose their grip and collapse. Over 200 combinations were tested.

In August 2018, LEGO launched 25 various brick shapes, derived from sugar cane grown in Brazil, colored green and shaped such as leaves, bushes and trees. Confident, LEGO next launched a 200-piece tree house kit again in ethanol-based bioplastic. The search goes on for an improved version to replace their traditional acrylonitrile butadiene styrene polymer.

In 2019 Lego launched a 12-ounce build-on brick mug, made of BPA-free plastic, coming in eight colors.

Discover Solution 333: Plastic from waste CO₂

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Materials Your Home

329: Sneakers

Problem:

Sneakers are manufactured with harmful chemicals that are released into the environment. They are also disposed of in harmful ways, such as incineration or dumping them in landfills, which exposes our environment to these toxic chemicals.

Solutions:

In 2015, Cyrill Gutsch of New York, founder of Parley for the Oceans teamed up with Adidas, with its 9.7% athletic footwear global market share, to produce sustainable running shoes called UltraBoost X, made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from marine plastic waste and illegal deep-sea gill-nets.

A chip in the heel of the shoe enables the runner to use their phone to scan their shoe and follow its story from plastic waste to stylish sneaker. As part of their commitment to tackle plastic waste, Adidas’s trainers use only one material and no glue, making them easier to recycle.

In addition, in between 2017, Adidas and Parley for the Oceans organised “Run For The Oceans”, a global running movement that uses the power of sport to raise awareness for the threat of marine plastic pollution.

They hosted a series of physical runs in several key cities worldwide including LA, New York, Paris, Berlin, London, Barcelona, Milan and Shanghai, and mobilized the global Adidas Runners network to organize weekly running initiatives in 50 Adidas Runners communities worldwide.

For the 2018 event Adidas matched every kilometre run with US$1 dollar, for the first one million kilometers – to support the Parley Ocean Plastic Program, focusing specifically on the Parley Ocean School initiative, which educates and empowers the next generation of Ocean Guardians through immersive experiences in the environment we are fighting to protect.

With in-school and water sports activities, the program introduces youth to the underwater world, teaching them about the impacts of marine plastic pollution and giving them the tools and inspiration to protect their future with Parley AIR.

In 2019, Adidas produced 11 million pairs of shoes with Ocean Plastic® by Parley by intercepting plastic waste on beaches, remote islands and in coastal communities. Adidas has launched a sneaker made from virgin plastic that can be ground up and remade again, as part of the company’s bid to mitigate the plastic crisis.

The Futurecraft Loop shoe was launched April 17 by Adidas as a first step for the brand to help “get off plastic waste”. The aim was to create a product that could be recycled as part of a closed-loop system. To do this, Adidas developed a high-performance running shoe made completely from a single material, virgin thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). This single material is the key to its recyclability.

One of the biggest challenges in recycling sneakers is that they are made of many different materials, which are difficult to separate, sort and re-purpose. To test the Futurecraft Loop, 200 users trialled the sneakers then sent them back to Adidis for washing and grinding up into pellets, which wefre then heated for future sneaker components. Thus, the plastic pellets can be re-used to make a second edition, which will then be tested.

Adidas is not alone. Reebok manufactures a sneaker made from organic cotton upper and corn-based sole, which is then shipped with 100% recycled packaging.

For its 100% vegan sneakers, Veja uses organic cotton grown by farmer associations in Brazil and Peru that harvest it with respect for people and the environment and wild rubber that helps preserve 300,000 ac (120,000 ha.) of the Amazon rainforest. The fabric used for its Veja’s B-Mesh sneaker is crafted from recycled plastic bottles and its CWL trainer is made out of corn waste from the food industry.

In 2019, Kanye West, the American rapper, singer, songwriter presented a new sneaker prototype called the Yeezy Foam Runner, made in Atlanta from a combination of petroleum-based ethylene-vinyl acetate and foam produced from algae. West told the audience that his new Yeezy headquarters in Cody, Wyoming, would include a hydroponic farm where the company can grow its own algae.

By making foam from algae, the company can help clean waterways to protect wildlife and drinking water, and it can avoid using the fossil fuels typically used to make foam. The prototype pair West showed off were a bland khaki color, Yeezy is looking into environmentally friendly dyes. Manufacture will begin in 2020.

What you can do: Purchase planet conscious sneakers and footware.

Discover Solution 330: Water monitoring satellites

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Materials

327: Bricks from cigarette butts

Problem:

Over 6 trillion cigarettes are produced each year globally, resulting in 1.2 million tonnes of toxic waste dumped into the environment.

Solution:

Bricks made from recycled cigarette butts

Abbas Mohajerani and Aeslina A. Kadir at RMIT have come up with a solution whereby fired-clay bricks with 1% recycled cigarette butt content are as strong as normal bricks and use less energy to produce. Their analysis showed if just 2.5% of global annual brick production incorporated 1% cigarette butts, this would offset total cigarette production each year.

The research team has also developed a detailed plan for bringing the brickmaking and waste management industries together, to implement cigarette butt recycling into bricks at mass scale. The plan, published in a special issue of the journal Construction Materials, details how cigarette butts can be collected and recycled on an industrial scale.

Different incorporation methods are outlined – using whole butts, pre-shredded butts, or a pre-mix where the butts have already been incorporated into other brickmaking materials.

Discover Solution 328: Rotting Veg

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Materials Planet Care Your Home

326: Plastic-free aisles in supermarkets

Problem:

According to the Checking Out on Plastics report by the Environmental Investigation Agency and Greenpeace UK, .Britain’s top 10 supermarkets are flooding the planet with 810,000 tonnes of single-use plastic every year, according to a major new report.

This is in addition to over 1.1 billion single-use bags, 958 million “bags for life” and 1.2 billion plastic bags for fruit and vegetables, which supermarkets produce annually. Seven of those supermarkets are putting into circulation around 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging a year – roughly 2,000 pieces for every household in the country.

Solution:

In 2016, Siân Sutherland and Frederikke Magnussen launched A Plastic Planet, coming up with one solution of a plastic free aisle in supermarkets. In February 2018, the world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle opened in Amsterdam. Ekoplaza, a Dutch chain, where around 700 products at its pilot launch and everything was packaged, just in glass, metal, cardboard or a compostable, plant-based biofilm.

Sutherland and her team at A Plastic Planet have been working collaboratively with industry, retailers, Governments, legislators and the UN to accelerate the pace of change at all levels creating the Plastic Free Trust Mark for brands, with over 1,000 already certified, and the Industry Commitment Mark ‘Working Towards Plastic Free’.

A Plastic Planet also became a key founding partner in the Plastic Health Coalition, bringing together the world’s scientists, doctors to irrefutably prove the impact of plastic toxicity on human health.

In January 2019, Thornton’s Budgens supermarket in Belsize Park, North London introduced dedicated plastic-free zones featuring more than 1,700 plastic-free products. Customers can pick up everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and cheese, to wild game meat, including squirrel and wild boar, all free from plastic packaging. Plastic-free materials are being used instead, including beech wood nets, pulp, paper, metal, glass, cellulose and carton board.

In June 2020, A Plastic Planet and packaging companies Reelbrands and Transcend Packaging came together to develop the world’s first compostable, plastic-free PPE (personal protective equipment) in clear plastic-free REELshield visors in a bid to assist the fight against coronavirus polluting the environment.

From June 2020, collaborating with Loop, a “zero waste shopping platform”, Tesco, the British supermarket chain is trialling a scheme in the UK where online shoppers will get products in reusable packaging. The trial covers 150 items, which will be delivered in reusable containers for which consumers pay a deposit.

After using the products, which include Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Persil washing liquid, Coca-Cola, and Danone yoghurt, customers ask for DPD (Dynamic Parcel Distribution) to come and pick up the empties in the bag.

Based at the European Marine Science Park in Oban Scotland, a team led by Karen Scofield Seal, at Oceanium Ltd is investigating the potential of seaweed to provide a long-term response to the demand for marine-safe packaging as well as sustainably-sourced plant-based food sources. Their solution is a circular life-cycle bio packaging material, Oceanware designed to be disposed of with food waste and ultimately used for compost for soil health or anaerobic digestion for energy.

What you can do: Be conscious of your ‘plastic footprint’ and shop at Ekoplaza if possible 

Discover Solution 327: Bricks from cigarette butts

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Materials Energy

322: Smart textile, Radiative heat transfer

Problem:

Many textiles are made for social etiquette and aesthetic purposes, but the pressing threat of global warming has created demand for innovative textiles that help to better cool the person who wears them.

Solution:

Stanford engineers have developed a low-cost, plastic-based textile that, if woven into clothing, could cool the body far more efficiently than is possible with the natural or synthetic fabrics in clothes worn today – and without air conditioning. If you can cool the person rather than the building where they work or live, that will save energy.

Photon-to-cooling phenomenon relies on the atmospheric transparency window to dissipate heat from the earth into outer space, which is an energy-saving cooling technique.

The emissivity of aluminized Polymethylpentene (PMP) thin films as selected by the Stanford team matches well to the atmospheric transparency window so as to minimize parasitic heat losses.
This new material works by allowing the body to discharge heat in two ways that would make the wearer feel nearly 4° F cooler than if they wore cotton clothing.

The material cools by letting perspiration evaporate through the material, something ordinary fabrics already do. But the Stanford material provides a second, revolutionary cooling mechanism: allowing heat that the body emits as infrared radiation to pass through the plastic textile.

First, they found a variant of polyethylene commonly used in battery making that has a specific nanostructure that is opaque to visible light yet is transparent to infrared radiation, which could let body heat escape. This provided a base material that was opaque to visible light for the sake of modesty but thermally transparent for purposes of energy efficiency.

They then modified the industrial polyethylene by treating it with benign chemicals to enable water vapor molecules to evaporate through nanopores in the plastic, said postdoctoral scholar and team member Po-Chun Hsu, allowing the plastic to breathe like a natural fiber.

To test the cooling potential of their three-ply construct versus a cotton fabric of comparable thickness, they placed a small swatch of each material on a surface that was as warm as bare skin and measured how much heat each material trapped.

The comparison showed that the cotton fabric made the skin surface 3.6 F warmer than their cooling textile. The researchers said this difference means that a person dressed in their new material might feel less inclined to turn on a fan or air conditioner.

The researchers are continuing their work on several fronts, including adding more colours, textures and cloth-like characteristics to their material. Adapting a material already mass produced for the battery industry could make it easier to create products.

Discover Solution 323: Hydrogen-powered train

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Materials Mobility

321: RIKR backpacki

Problem:

There is so much plastic waste recuperated from landfills, waterways and oceans that as many ways as possible must be found to recycle it profitably.

Solution:

Backpacks from recycled plastic.


Sisters Georgia, Nina and Sophia Scott share a lifetime of travel experience, and have lived and worked all over the world. Georgia and Sophia have more than a decade of experience with their documentary film company GroundTruth Productions, working across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East put them in direct contact with a range of extreme environments – from drought in East Africa to conflict in the Middle East. These experiences sparked their drive to create a company that could effect positive, meaningful change.

In 2017, working with a specialist textile mill in Taiwan, the Scott sisters developed a high-performance GT-RK-001 textile from 100% recycled PET, using plastic waste collected from landfill sites, waterways and oceans worldwide.

With a 600 denier ballistic yarn structure for premium strength combining three layers of recycled synthetic fibres, a unique triangular ripstop weave, and a water-repellant TPU coating, it offers unparalleled durability and resistance to the elements.

Groundtruth created the RIKR backpack (equivalent to 120 recycled plastic bottles), following with other items from laptop bags to key chains, all of which respond to the demands of a new era of global travel.

Working with bluesign®-approved manufacturers, Groundtruth has also partnered with REDD+ Conservation Company Wildlife Works to guarantee emission-free production and offset the carbon footprint of the company’s travel emissions.

Polar explorer Rob Swan, the first person to walk to both Poles, has been putting the RIKR backpack to the test in the South Pole Energy Challenge where it must survive in conditions of -40C. Swan takes great care and caution when choosing his expedition equipment as at times it can mean life or death.

What you can do: Purchase items from Groundtruth

Discover Solution 322: Smart textile, Radiative heat transfer

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Materials Your Home

320: Plastic bottle cutter in

Problem:

What to do with plastic bottles in the home.

Solution:

Plastic Bottle Cutter


In 2016, two Russians, Pavel et Ian Polianskii living in Versailles, France developed the Plastic Bottle Cutter, a cutting tool, which after removing the bottom of an empty bottle, can shred the rest of the plastic into long skinny strands of plastic rope. The device consists of a wooden handle, razor blade, and a cutting guide and can be used in any home or office.

The product first appeared on Kickstarter on February 23, 2016. With no moving parts and a simple design, this handy handheld device seemed to explode in popularity nearly overnight. By the end of March the product had gained nearly 7,000 backers and a pledge total now passing $350,000; far more than the original goal of $9,945. PBC became 8th most funded project from France, top150 most funded design projects of KickStarter, 4.195% funded!

The Plastic Bottle Cutter can be ordered online but users should consider how to ultimately recycle the twine they produce from it.

Discover Solution 321: RIKR backpack

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Materials

319: Mushroom mycelium recycling technology

Problem:

Palm oil processing also gives rise to highly polluting waste-water, known as Palm Oil Mill Effluent, which is often discarded in disposal ponds, resulting in the leaching of contaminants that pollute the groundwater and soil, and in the release of methane gas into the atmosphere. The amount of palm oil waste produced by the palm oil plantation in South Sumatera is a staggering nine tons per hour.

Solution:

Mushroom mycelium technology


Co-founded by architects including Adi Reza Nugroho and Robbi Zidna Ilman, Mycotech, an Indonesian social entrepreneurship start-up based in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia is creating affordable, durable, recyclable and eco-friendly building materials out of agricultural waste such as Palm Oil Mill Effluent by applying mushroom mycelium technology.

Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae, or long, branching filamentous structures. A common example of mycelium’s binding power is the way soybeans are ‘glued’ together in a block of tempeh, a traditional Indonesian savory dish.

Mycotech had previously used woodchips or sawdust and sugarcane waste product to produce particle boards, producing upwards to 4,000 kilograms of particle board per month with the help of two mushroom farmer groups in Bandung, which consisted of 270 farmers, 64% of them women. Grown by local West Java farmers, most of whom are women, the fungi needs only one week to grow and become harvest-ready.

But from September 2019, Mycotech made its first shipment of entry doors for residential homes made from recycled Palm Oil Mill Effluent to Australia.

The research on the use of palm oil production waste material and the subsequent fire testing of the end product were made possible by funds from the Government of Australia through the Australia Awards Alumni Grant Scheme, as well as from the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Award 2017 and 2018.

As a building material, not only is Mycotech durable and flexible, it is reportedly fireproof and buoyant as well. Sturdy, lightweight products made from strong, organic fibers can be formed into custom shapes, including panels and tiles, cabinetry, and interiors.

Led by researcher Erlambang Ajidarma, Myotech has now diversified to make mycelium leather for wrist straps of their Pala X Mylea watch. Mychotech uses only 45 liters of water and creates only 0.7 kilograms of CO2 emissions, compared to 80,000 liters of water and 355,500 kilograms CO2 for cow leather.

What you can do: Purchase items from Mycotech

Discover Solution 320: Plastic bottle cutter

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Materials

315: Skateboards recycled into other items

Problem:

The exact number of skateboards manufactured every year is unknown, but it is estimated to be in the millions. Most skateboard decks are made from a high grade of maple (Acer spp.) veneer plywood and typically last only a few months before they break or deteriorate beyond use. Millions of used skateboard decks are discarded annually, ending up in landfills

Solution:

Recycling them into rainbow-coloured bowls, swings, furniture tables and chairs, wall tiles toys and new skateboards etc.


In the USA, various start-ups are recycling boards from coast to coast. From Jason and Adam Podlaski of www.deckstool.com in Clifton Heights Pennsylvania to George Rocha of Iris Skateboards in San Francisco California (rainbow in Portuguese =“arco iris”) www.irisskateboards.com. In Canada, Adrian Pool, Martinus Pool, and Anne Tranholm of AdrianMartinus Custom Woodworking in Calgary, Alberta are crafting similar products. www.adrianmartus.com

In France Guillaume Corcaud at Atelierplanchon in La Tremblade, Nouvelle Aquitaine sells his recycled skateboards online and 60 % are sold to the USA and across Europe. He is one of many sellers of recycled skateboard items on Etsy

Skateboards can be made from recycled materials such as bottle caps, purchased by Jonathan Morrisson Aernout Zappey and Rogier Heijning at WasteBoards of Diemen in the Netherlands from the KNGF Geleidehonden (Royal Dutch Guide dogs foundation). They collect the caps to raise money to train their dogs.

Discover Solution 316: Typhoon-harnessing wind turbines

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Carbon Capture Materials

312: Murals, pollution-eating

Problem:

Murals or wall paintings proliferate in big cities but are only decorative.

Solution:

Pollution-eating paint.

Since 2007, Massimo Bernardoni and Antonio Cianci of Airlite in Milan and London, have developed Sunlight Exterior one of a range of paint colours which contain special compounds that absorb and eliminate pollutants in the air by 88%, similar to photosynthesis in plants. A study in Rome’s Umberto tunnel found that after it was painted with a similar photocatalytic paint, nitrogen oxide levels were reduced by over 50%.

Sponsored by Veronica De Angelis, real estate entrepreneur and founder of Yourban2030, Milanese street artist Federico Massa (aka Iena Cruz) using the Airlite palette unveiled her work ‘Hunting Pollution,’ which spanned 1,000-square-metres, on the side of seven-story building in the capital.

In Rome, the Dutch street artist JDL (Judith de Leeuw) has painted another giant mural on a gable end of a building. Paying homage to the LGBTQ community by depicting a woman standing in front of a mirror seeing her reflection as a man, the mural is absorbing the pollution generated by 52 cars every day.

Airlite is planning to focus on large contracts and infrastructure projects like hospitals, schools, air quality in tunnels and the like.

Discover Solution 313: Photocatalyst sheet

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Materials

311: Ultra-strong coloured bricks from plastic waste

Solution:

Nzambi Matee majored in material science and worked as an engineer in Kenya’s oil industry. In 2017 she quit her job to start creating and testing pavers, which are a combination of plastic and sand.


Obtaining the waste material for free from packaging factories or buying it from other recyclers, through experimentation, Matee understood which plastics bind better together and then created the machinery that would allow her to mass produce them. She obtained a brick that was five to seven times stronger than concrete and could be produced in an array of colours including but not limited to red, blue, brown, and green.

In 2017, Matee opened a factory in Nairobi called Gjenge Makers Ltd. capable of producing 1,500 plastic pavers per day. The factory accepts waste that other facilities cannot process anymore and has also generated 112 job opportunities for garbage collectors, women and youth groups. To date, gjenge makers ltd. has managed to recycle more than 20 tonnes of plastic waste into paving bricks.

Discover Solution 312: Murals, pollution-eating

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Materials Planet Care

307: Pesticide eco-friendly

Problem:

Chemical pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, produced from chemical alteration can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including, humans, birds, fish, beneficial insects such as bees, and non-target plants. Examples of acute health effects include stinging eyes, rashes, blisters, blindness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and death.

Solution:

Nanopesticides offer hope of a more environmentally-friendly approach.

Nanopesticides are plant protection products where nanotechnology is employed to enhance the efficacy or reduce the environmental footprint of a pesticide active ingredient. It is such a young solution that, in the European Union, silicon dioxide (SiO2) is the only active substance with an approval for use as a nanomaterial in biocidal products.

Bacterial leaf blight of rice caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) is a major disease of rice, leading to reduction in production by 10–50%. In order to control this disease, various chemical bactericides have been used. Wide and prolonged application of chemical bactericides resulted in the resistant strain of Xoo that was isolated from rice.

To address this problem, Chinese researchers at both the College of Materials and Energy, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou and the College of Agriculture, Shihezi University, Xinjiang were searching for an environmentally friendly alternative to the commonly used chemical bactericides.

They found that silicon dioxide nanospheres loaded with silver nanoparticles (SiO2-Ag) can be prepared by using rice husk as base material precursor. The results of the antibacterial tests showed that SiO2-Ag composites displayed antibacterial activity against Xoo.

Nano technology can also be used to create e-friendly fertilisers. In 2019, Researchers at Egypt’s National Research Centre in Cairo produced a nano-fertiliser from banana peels. They used potassium hydroxide as the extracting agent at optimum operating conditions (solid to liquid ratio 1:2, temperature 100 °C, and cooking time 30 min).

The product was applied in agriculture of two crops, tomato and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum). Their findings revealed that germination percentage increased with increasing dose of banana peel extract for both crops. For tomato crop, the germination percentage was increased from 14% (control without nano) to 97% after 7 days of plantation. Also, the same trend was noticed for fenugreek crop, the germination percentage was enhanced from 25% (control without nano) to 93.14%.

Discover Solution 308: Retrofitting vehicles to electric propulsion

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Materials

304: Toftlund

Problem:

Polyester is one of the most popular synthetic fibres in the world. For decades, it’s been used in everything from packaging to garments but its biodegradability leaves much to be desired

Solution:

Nishant Verma, Project Leader at IKEA Services India, https://zaubacorp.com in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India has developed Toftlund, a soft touch artificial washable sheepskin based on recycled polyester bottles
Bottles are shredded into flakes. The flakes then get compounded into plastic pellets and transformed into recycled polyester fibres.
Super soft, warm and cozy whether you have it as a floor piece, drape it over your armchair or want to add comfort to your bench. It looks and feels like a sheepskin but …..

What you can do: If you are thinking of buying a sheepskin rug, buy a Toftlund rug instead

Discover Solution 305: Molten salt storage system

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Materials Planet Care

303: Selective fishing net

Problem:

In 2008, the Norwegian coast guard filmed a Scottish fishing vessel riding gray swells, dumping 5 tonnes of dead fish back into the North Sea. Over the European Union catch quota and unable to keep all the fish they had caught, the fishermen had to ditch some. To the Norwegians, who aren’t part of the EU and hold a strict discards ban, the waste was shocking.

Solution:

In 2011, Dan Watson, a Royal College of Art student in Glasgow designed an ocean trawling system that would allow certain fish to escape via lighted rings, offering more catch selectivity.


For his SafetyNet, Watson received an MA in Innovation Design Engineering. The escape rings can be retrofitted into any net to keep the holes of the net stretched open, permitting small fish to escape and ensuring that only marketable ones are caught (ordinarily, the mesh becomes compressed as it is dragged through the water by the boat). The rings are illuminated to make the exits more visible.

An internal separator panel running horizontally within the net delineates the border between a finer upper mesh and wider-spaced lower mesh, taking advantage of the fact that endangered cod tend to swim downwards when under stress but the desired haddock and whiting will tend to swim upward.

Two models of escape ring are both capable of snapping onto existing mesh nets; one is battery-powered, and the other is self-charging, capturing the energy from the flow of water over a small built-in turbine in order to generate power to the LEDs. Using the ‘safetynet’ system, the fishing industry can become more sustainable. In 2012 SafetyNet won the James Dyson Design Award.

To further commercialise, Watson founded SafetyNet Technologies, enlisting the help of Aran Dasan and Steven Ogborne. This included integrating their PISCES light-emitting devices into fishing gear to lower non-target by-catch in fishing activities. PISCES was trialled by Carrefour’s suppliers, FROM Nord, in the Eastern Channel fishery in order to avoid the capture of juvenile whiting.

SafetyNet Technologies has great ambition to make fishing more sustainable, and part of that is to sustain the fishermen’s livelihoods, by making devices that not only work to fish selectively but are easy to use and maintain.

What you can do:

Discoverr Solution 304: Toftlund

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Your Home Materials

299: Sustainable or recycled musical instruments

Problem:

The metals used in brass and wind musical instruments are not biodegradable. Small pieces of metal, such as tin cans, will rust and flake into the atmosphere after about 100 years, but something as large as an instrument takes much longer.

While woodwind instruments almost brought their African blackWood or Mpingo forest source to extinction, spruce, maple, rainforest mahogany, ebony and rosewood trees used for guitars were being cut down faster than they could be replaced.

Solutions:

In 1996, Tanzanian botanist Sebastien Chuwa and US woodturner James Harris founded the African BlackWood Conservation Project, working with students to plant hundreds of mpingo saplings to save the forest.

Their campaign received little international attention until a BBC documentary, “The Tree of Music” focussed world attention on the extinction risk.  By 2004, Chuwa’s goal was achieved and more than 20,000 trees were planted in that year alone.

Also in 1996, Gibson, one of the world’s premier guitar brands, became the first in the industry to make some of its instruments using wood certified as “sustainably harvested” by the non-profit Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

In 2008 Gibson was joined by other guitar manufacturers Taylor, Fender, Martin, Guild, Walden and Yamaha to sign on as partners with Music Wood Coalition, a project of the leading environmental non-profit Greenpeace to promote changes in logging practices that would secure the longterm sustainability of tonewoods.

There are alternative solutions. In 2006, Favio Chávez, music teacher, and Nicolás “Cola” Gómez, a rubbish picker, began to wonder if they could create instruments from garbage they found on the large landfill in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay where residents suffer extreme poverty.

With the help of lutier Nicolás Gómez, Chàvez began to manufacture all kinds of instruments with which children could play.Their workshop became a place of musical refinement and experimentation. An oil drum was a good body for a cello; a bent kitchen fork for a violin tailpiece. The first few scratchy instruments were given to local kids for whom a new violin might cost a month of their parents’ wages.

Chávez began to train his ensemble which he called La Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados de Cateura, or The Cateura Recycled Orchestra, formed by young people from 11 to 25 years at risk of social exclusion. Since 2012 the orchestra has given concerts, not only in South America, but all over the world.

In 2015 “Landfill Harmonic”, a film that follows their journey, won a special mention in the environment award at the prestigious Sheffield Doc/Fest. The orchestra has now spawned copycats and is connected with similar groups who have formed independently from Ecuador, Panama, Brazil and Burundi. In Mexico, the Orquestra Basura (Trash Orchestra) have recorded albums and achieved minor celebrity status.

Another solution was found by Simon Lee of Burgos, Spain, originally trained as a sculptor who used these skills to work as a prop and model maker in the theatre, film and television industries.

After many years of working he decided to retrain as a guitar maker at Merton College London, but instead of using traditional tropical hardwoods materials, in 2008, he recycled. Lee’s Cyclotron guitars are made from recycled CDs, yoghurt pots and offcuts of industrial pipes. Though the neck is still made in wood, Simon makes it a point to source materials locally where possible.

Art Mayer of Copper Guitars in Moscow, Russia has built the the iCaster, a Tele-style guitar built from 107 Apple iPhone cases, gluing them together in a block roughly four phones thick and then carving out the body, which also includes a recycled mahogany sustain block.

Discover Solution 300: Organic-inorganic hybrid material for separating CO²

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Materials

298: Modular houses from 100% recycled plastic

Problem:

There is a housing deficit of 160 million homes in Africa today, and it is forecasted to increase to 360 million by 2050. Traditional technology is costly and would take too much time to build.

Solution:

Temperature-controlled Mobile Storage Units


In partnership with UN Habitat program, Danish Architect Julien de Smedt, working with Frank Cato Lahti’s start-up Othalo in Troms country, Norway have developed a solution for building low-cost houses in sub-Saharan countries such as Ghana, Cameroon, and Uganda.

Lahti has been developing and testing the Othalo technologies in partnership with Sintef and UiT since 2014, and in 2019 the company was formally established and patents filed. These patents, including a load-bearing structure and a supportive and insulating structure: each house will be made from 100% recycled plastic, with a 60 m2 Othalo house incorporating around eight tonnes of plastic waste.

It involves industrialized processes that, from pickers to fitters, creates up to 1600 jobs per one thousand 60sqm houses produced per year. 8100 metric tonnes of recycled plastic per production line per year, means it is a significant contributor to the plastic waste problem.

Othalo and De Smedt, envision the homes being constructed from plastic that is collected from near the building sites. Just as cities are formed by buildings of wood, of concrete, clay, steel, they could very well contain a building constructed from plastic waste, as long as it’s done in a safe and sustainable way.

Othalo expects to start mass-producing the houses in early 2022 and believes that the system will allow the millions of tonnes of plastic waste to become useful building material. With today’s plastic waste, more than one billion houses could be built.

Discover Solution 299: Sustainable or recycled musical instruments

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Materials

296: Second-hand Shopping Mall

Problem:

A large proportion of goods sold in the thousands of shopping malls around the world eventually end up in landfills, particularly their packaging.

Solution:

Second-hand recycling shopping centre


Anna Bergstrom moved to Eskilstuna an hour’s train journey west of Stockholm in 2012, after becoming disillusioned with the huge waste she encountered during her career in commercial fashion;

Eskilstuna was already implementing a spate of green initiatives, vying to make it the most environmentally friendly city in Sweden – and perhaps the world.

Public buses and cars are run on biogas and electricity, and the town uses low-carbon combined heat and power plants, which use the thermal energy from electricity production to heat water. Residents sort their waste into seven multicoloured categories at home – green for food, pink for textiles, grey for metal, yellow for paper, blue for newspaper, orange for plastic and black for mixed.

Three years’ later, Bergstrom added her solution, “ReTuna Återbruksgalleria” (“Tuna” because that’s the nickname for the city where it is based – Eskilstuna, – and “Re” because the goods on sale have been recycled or repurposed)

At ReTuna, run by the municipality-owned company Eskilstuna Energi och Miljö (EEM), it is easy for visitors to sort materials they are discarding into the containers and then drop off reusable toys, furniture, clothes, decorative items, and electronic devices in the mall’s depot, called “Returen”.

In the depot, staff from AMA (Eskilstuna Municipality’s resource unit for activity, motivation and work) perform an initial culling of what is usable and what is not.

The items are then distributed to the recycling shops in the mall. The shop staff then perform a second culling, where they choose what they want to repair, fix up, convert, refine – and ultimately sell. In this way, the materials are given new life.

It’s very important to Anna that this place is enticing, because Bergstrom feels it is making a statement. Everything for sale here, in 14 specialist shops covering everything from clothes to DIY tools, is recycled.and for the past four years people have been able to drop off their unwanted goods for recycling at Bergström’s secondhand mall.

In a store that specialises in handmade household ornaments, Bergstrom is keen to show off a nice example of this, from one of her star tenants. Shopkeeper Maria Larsson has upcycled a container that resembles the body of a pine cone. Each segment of its skin has been cut from leather jackets.

In 2018, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria had SEK 11.7 million in sales for recycled products.

ReTuna also organizes events, workshops, lectures, theme days, and more – all with a focus on sustainability. The folk high school Eskilstuna Folkhögskola conducts its one-year education program “Recycle Design – Återbruk” in the premises. There are also conference rooms, where guests can hold climate-smart meetings. Organic lunch and baked treats are on offer at Café Returama.

What you can do: If you are able, shop at ReTuna.

Discover Solution 297: Tidal stream power generator

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Materials Your Home

295: Polypropylene-free tea bags

Problem:

Canadian researchers published a study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Environmental Science and Technology which found that steeping a single plastic tea bag at brewing temperature releases about 11.6 billion minuscule particles known as “microplastics” and 3.1 billion “nanoplastics” into each cup. Teabags could be as big a cause of plastic pollution as microbeads or carrier bags.

Solution:

Organic tea bags are made by a dozen manufacturers including Brew Tea Co., Teapigs. Aldi, Duchy Organics, Hampstead Tea, Steenbergs, We are Tea, Hannah Sell’s Tea and Nemi.


Based in Keynsham, England, Pukka Herb teabags are made of a special blend of natural abaca (a type of banana) and plant cellulose fibres. Their supply of tea bag paper is also unbleached. They are staple-free and 100% biodegradable and/or recyclable. The tea bag strings are made from 100% organic, non-GMO, un-bleached cotton use a simple stitch of organic cotton and a unique folding process. This means they do not need to use polypropylene or a metal staple to hold their teabags together.

The tea bag is only a century old. Before that loose tea leaves would brew in a tea pot, while the tea infuser or strainer made of stainless steel was fine for one or two people. These systems are still eco friendly.

What you can do: Purchase tea that uses organic tea bags.

Discover Solution 296: Second-hand Shopping Mall

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Materials

292: faecal to water OmniProcessor

Problem:

Sewage sludge is the residual, semi-solid material that is produced as a by-product during sewage treatment of industrial or municipal wastewater.

The sludge will become putrescent in a short time once anaerobic bacteria take over, and must be removed from the sedimentation tank before this happens Environmental issues related to the recycling of wet sewage sludge on land include the risk of nutrient leaching, impacts on soil biodiversity and GHG emissions.

According to a report released by the World Health Organization and Unicef in 2013, data collected two years earlier showed that 2.5 billion people worldwide lacked “improved sanitation facilities”.

Solution:

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle-based engineering firm Janicki Bioenergy have developed the Omni Processor which boils the wet sewage sludge to generate water vapour that is cleaned and turned into purified water, the leftover dry sewage is then burned to create a little bit of ash and lots of steam which is used to drive a generator.

For use in developing countries, one of the OmniProcessor’s main treatment aims is pathogen removal to stop the spread of disease from fecal sludge.


The term OmniProcessor was created by staff of the Water, Sanitation, Hygiene Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2012. Peter Janicki presented in 2014 a prototype using combustion. In a video, Janicki is shown pouring Bill Gates a glass of water processed by the machine. The US$100 prototype model can produce 2,853 gallons (10,800 liters) of drinking water per day and 100 kW net electricity.

A larger model under development, the S200, is designed to handle the waste from 100,000 people, produce 22,700 gallons (86,000 liters) of drinking water per day and 250 kW net output electricity. These systems are designed to provide a “self-sustaining bioenergy” process.

A pilot project of Janicki Bioenergy’s Omni processor was installed in Dakar, Senegal, in 2015 and can now treat the fecal sludge of 50,000-100,000 people. In 2018 Sedron Technologies, Sedro-Woolley, Washington, formerly Janicki Bioenergy received a license to commercialise its patented Omni Processor.

Discover Solution 293: Passive Downdraught Evaporative Cooling (PDEC)

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Materials

289: 3D house printer

Problem:

According to the United Nations, some 1.6 billion people lack adequate shelter, and a third of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements or slums. Traditional building methods lead to wasted materials such as cement and excess labour costs, driving up housing prices beyond the reach of many poor families.

Solution:

3D printed houses


At the Aeditive GmbH startup located in Norderstedt, next to Hamburg, Germany, a team led by architect and 3D software engineer Hendrik Lindemann is digitalising the construction industry.Their name, “Aeditive”, is a made-up word and based on “additive manufacturing” and “aedificium”, Latin for building.
Their robotic 3D shotcrete printer known as the Concrete Aeditor can create elements up to 11x4x4 meters, including reinforcement and built-in parts.

A steel pallet is positioned in the Concrete Aeditor. One of the Kuka robots creates the element on the pallet based on RSP. The second Kuka robot supports this process by placing built-in elements such as reinforcements. The element’s surfaces are robotically post-processed. The pallet including the finished element is removed from the manufacturing space.

The Concrete Aeditor integrated system consists of six container modules and can be deployed flexibly and autonomously, both, offsite and onsite. After setting up the containers, it only requires connections for freshwater, wastewater and electricity.

Aeditive is not alone. Based on the experience of Alex le Roux, previously co-founder of Vesta Printers, ICON of Austin, Texas has been using its Vulcan 3D tablet-operated robotic printer, integrated material delivery system with a printing capability to approximately 2,000 square feet.

It has an adjustable width (to accommodate different slab sizes) and is transported in a custom trailer with no assembly required. It uses a cement-based material called “Lavacrete”.

In 2018, ICON was the first company in America to secure a building permit for and in 24 hours build a 3D printed home in Austin. During 2019, it had built 16 houses in Austin and in Salvador, Mexico, where it is constructing the world’s first 3D-printed community of 400-500 square foot Tiny Houses designed to accommodate 50 low-income families.

Alongside this ICON has been working with the US Defence Innovation Unit (DIU) at Camp Pendleton to demonstrate the use of commercial scale additive manufacturing for military use.
In October 2020, ICON was awarded a government Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract including funding from NASA to begin research and development of a space-based construction system that could support future exploration of the Moon.

Aeditive and Icon’s ultimate goal is to reduce the cost of homebuilding by 50%.

Discover Solution 290: Million-Mile Battery

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Materials

287: Enzyme-based recyclable plastic

Problem:

Current plastics recycling processes are primarily thermo-mechanical which limits their recyclability.

Solution:

In 2012, Marie-Laure Desrousseaux, a researcher in specialized enzyme technology, brought together a team including Alain Marty of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) to investigate using enzymatic technologies for the recovery of plastic waste.

Research in this area was influenced by work on plastic-eating bugs at a Japanese dump. The bacterium had naturally evolved to eat plastic, and scientists worked to identify the key enzyme which existed in the bacterium, allowing it to break down plastic.

Within the framework of the Thanaplast consortium, they innovated an enzymatic technology enabling the specific de-polymerization of a single polymer (e.g. PET) contained in the various plastics to be recycled.  The PET is placed in a bioreactor, where water and enzymes are added to the waste, which is then heated and churned. At the end of this stage, the monomer or monomers resulting from the de-polymerization process are purified, with the objective to re-polymerize them, thus enabling a recycling process to infinity.

A company called Carbios was set up at the Biopôle Clermont-Limagne (France’s “Chemical Valley”) in Saint-Beauzire in the Puy-de-Dôme department in Auvergne in central France.

In February 2019, after nine years’ R&D in collaboration with Toulouse Biotechnology Institute (TBI), Carbios achieved a world first by converting PET plastic waste into its basic constituents at 98% in just 10 hours; a technology applicable to all kinds of PET bottles (clear, colored, opaque, complex).

32 patents were taken out worldwide, 13 of which are related to the bio-recycling technology. Carbios created the Carbiolice joint venture, in partnership with Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and the SPI fund operated by Bpifrance. This company will produce the enzymatic granules.

In 2019, Carbolice was awarded the EuropaBio Prize for innovation. L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company and Carbios signed an agreement to jointly found a consortium for the bio-recycling of plastic on industrial scale. An industrial demonstrator at Saint-Fons, south of Lyon, was scheduled to go into operation in 2021.

By 2025, L’Oreal is planning that 50% of the plastic used in their packaging will be recycled or bio-sourced. Nestlé Waters, Pepsico and Suntory Europe (Orangina-Schweppes) have joined a consortium with Carbios. (carbios.fr)

By linking two separate enzymes, scientists at the University of Portsmouth, UK have engineered a new super-enzyme which gets to work six times faster, with the capacity to allow mixed-fabric clothing to be recycled.

Discover Solution 288: SeaTwirl

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Carbon Capture Energy Materials

286: Pavements for carbon capture

Problem:

As pedestrians walk on a walkway, instead of wasting good energy, the pressure could be used to transfer electromagnetic induction creating kinetic energy which can then be used to power devices.

Solution:

Jose Luis Moracho Amigot and Angel Moracho Jimenez direct PVT (Pavimentos de Tudela) in Navarra, Spain, a company with more than 30 years of experience specializing in the manufacture of non-slip outdoor Granicem pavements.

In 2009, they adapted the system developed by Italcementi of Italy, to manufacture paving stones whose photosynthetic, concrete-titanium dioxide composition would enable them to absorb particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), and render them harmless.

Their patented product, ecoGranic, bio-mimics the performance of chlorophyll in plants. A top layer comprises oxide additives titanium incorporating a catalyst that is activated by sunlight, which then converts pollution that go with the rain nitrates and carbonates and the wind until it reaches where vegetation is removed. The lower layet consists of recycled materials.

ISO rule trials made at prestigious laboratory of the Dutch Twente University, and field studies carried out at different sites, showed ecoGranic’s decontaminating efficiency at up to 56% of nitrous oxide degradation.

A sidewalk the size of a soccer field with ecoGranic would eliminate pollution from approximately 4,000 vehicles. Following the success of three streets repaved with ecoGranic in Spain’s capital, Madrid, Plaza de la Cruz, an entire 10,800 ft² (1,000 m²) square in La Rioja, was repaved with ecoGranic, following by another square in Santander.

The technology soon spread to dozens of cities across Spain. The Navarra company currently has two plants, one located in Tudela and another in Cabanillas with a production capacity of more than 54,000 ft² (5,000 m2) per day. While PVT has signed with China to supply their ecoGranic decontaminating pavement, its co-inventor José Luis Moracho is working on a domestic version.

Meanhile Aira has produced a bicycle and a scooter which, by carrying the PVT ecoGranic tile vertically below its front handlebars can absorb CO₂ as it moves along. (pvt.es)

Discover Solution 287: Enzyme-based recyclable plastic

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Planet Care Materials

284: 99Recycle

Problem:

Every year, Russia generates 55-60 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) 99% of which is non-hazardous waste. In St Petersburg the sprawling mountains of rubbish located on the outskirts have become a testament to our 21st Century throw-away culture.

Solution:

Anton Rykachevskiy, Alexander Semenov, Olesya Kulik and a team at 99Recycle in St Petersburg exclusively source plastic from landfill sites to create its products. The brand works alongside various charities that support in their quest to collect plastic. Covers for Kindness is one of these.


The organisation gathers old plastic lids or covers, sorts them according to colour, and delivers them to 99Recycle. According to Maria Kutuzova, head of the project, they have collected over 70 tonnes of plastic so far.

Most of 99Recycle’s is taken up by the preparation, because they need to clean it, to make it even, to select it, to reject some materials.

The current roster includes a range of waist bags, tiles, plant pots, jewellery and pencil cases, through to skateboards and even a bike produced from recycled plastics via 3D printing.

Discover Solution 285: Offshore floating wind farm

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Energy Materials Uncategorized

282: Hydrogen-powered steel

Problem:

Worldwide steel production currently totals about 1.5 billion tons (1.36 billion tonnes) per year, and each ton produced generates almost two tons of carbon dioxide, This accounts for about 5 % of the world’s GHG emissions.

Solution:

In 2016, Swedish-Finnish steelmaker SSAB, iron pellet supplier LKAB (Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag), and electricity generator Vattenfall joined forces to create HYBRIT – an initiative to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, in the direct reduction of iron (DRI) ore, using hydrogen.


During 2018, work started on the construction of a pilot plant for fossil-free steel production in Luleå, Sweden. Trials are set to run from 2021–2024, then scaling up to a demonstration capacity of 500,000 t/y in 2025 with completion set for 2035. the goal being to have a solution for fossil-free steel by 2035.

Hybrit is a significant part of the road towards SSAB’s goal of being fossil-free by 2045 If successful, HYBRIT means a reduction of Sweden’s CO₂ emissions by 25%. and Finland’s by 7%. (hybritdevelopment.com)

In 2019 steel and mining company ArcelorMittal with an annual production volume of 8 million tonnes crude steel, launched a project in Hamburg, Germany using hydrogen on an industrial scale to directly reduce iron ore for steel production.

The company aims to enable low-CO₂ steel production. In ArcelorMittal’s process, 95% pure hydrogen will be separated from the top gas of an existing plant by pressure swing adsorption. To allow economical operation, the process will initially use grey hydrogen produced at gas separation.

Grey hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced as a waste or industrial by-product. ‘Green’ hydrogen – produced using renewable energy – will be used in the future, when sufficient quantities are available. ArcelorMittal, working with academia, will test the procedure in the coming years at a site in Hamburg. Reduction will initially be carried out at demonstration scale – 100,000 t/y.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, steelmaker Thyssenkrupp also plans to phase out CO₂-intensive coke-based steel production and replace it with a hydrogen-based process by 2050. It has partnered with Air Liquide and the non-profit research institute BFI to convert a blast furnace to hydrogen operation.

On November 11, 2019, in an initial test phase, hydrogen was blown into one of the 28 Cu cooler tuyeres on Blast Furnace 9 in Duisburg. The NRW state government is funding this initial project phase under its IN4climate initiative. Following analysis of the test phase, hydrogen is then to be used at all 28 tuyeres of the blast furnace in 2023.

On the same day, what is currently the world’s largest pilot plant for the CO₂-neutral production of hydrogen successfully commenced operation at voestalpine AG in Linz, Austria. As part of the EU-funded H2FUTURE project, partners voestalpine, VERBUND, Siemens, Austrian Power Grid, K1-MET and TNO are researching the industrial production of green hydrogen as a means of replacing fossil fuels in steel production over the long term. (voestalpine.com)

Since November 2020 a 1.2 Mt DRI production plant powered by hydrogen enriched gas is being set up in China by the HBIS Group including a 600,000 ktpy Energiron DRI plant jointly developed by Tenova and Danieli in Italy. The HBIS DRI plant will use make-up gas with approximately a 70% hydrogen concentration, with a final net emission of just about 125kg of CO2 per ton. This is a historic step forward for the decarbonisation of the Chinese steel industry, which represents more than half of global steel production and related carbon dioxide emissions. It is scheduled to begin production by the end of 2021.

Discover Solution 283: Microfilter clothes washing devices

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Materials

279: Paper Bottles, plastic free

Problem:

The current rate of demand for glass is unsustainable. Globally, the world is using up 50 billion tonnes of sand every year, which is twice the amount that our rivers can replenish in the same time frame. Commonly harvested from seabeds and riverbeds, the demand for sand is disrupting marine ecosystems and microorganisms that depend upon it for survival, and leaving coastal communities vulnerable to flooding caused by erosion as well.

Solution:

Paper-based spirits bottle.


In Spring 2021, the British multinational beverage alcohol company Diageo, whose brand portfolio includes Smirnoff, Guinness and Johnnie Walker, debuted the world’s first paper-based spirits bottle, produced by Pulpex Ltd., originally developed by Lextar for Hercules, Inc. of Wilmington, Delaware. The bottle, which is fully recyclable, is made using sustainably sourced wood pulp and contains no plastic.

Diageo has started with one size and variant of Johnnie Walker, the famous brand of Scotch whisky, expanding its brand partnerships later this year. Diageo unveiled an impressive list of multinationals backing the technology, including Unilever and PepsiCo, who are expected to launch their own branded paper bottles soon after.

Meanwhile, Martin Myerscough, inventor and co-founder of Frugalpac of Ipswich, Suffolk, England has also launched a paper wine bottle, based on the already proven technology which produced the Frugal Carton and then the Frugal Cup, the world’s first take-away coffee cup.

Frugal Bottle is made from 94% recycled paper with a food-grade liner to hold the wine or spirit. At just 83g it is five times lighter than a normal glass bottle It’s easy to recycle again – simply separate the liner from the paper bottle and put them in your different recycling bins. As the Frugal Bottle is made from recycled paper, it allows for 360-degree branding across the bottle and it can be produced in the heart of any bottling facility.

The first wine to go on sale in the Frugal Bottle is from the award-winning Italian vineyard Cantina Goccia with its 3Q, an unwooded Sangiovese red with a hint of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

What you can do: Be aware of packaging and look out for sustainable options. 

Discover Solution 280: Radiative passive cooling system

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Materials

278: Orange juice bar – circular economy

Problem:

Machines for making fresh orange juice, usually throw away the peel.

Solution:

The Circular Orange Juice Bar


Carlo Ratti Associati in Turin and energy company Eni have created “Feel the Peel”, a Circular Orange Juice bar which supplies freshly squeezed juice in a 3D printed bioplastic cup made from the orange peel.

The prototype machine is 3.1 meters tall and has a circular dome which holds 1,500 oranges. When you order an orange juice, an orange slides down, is cut in half, and juiced. The peel is then dropped into a container at the bottom of the machine and the leftover rinds are dried and milled to make “dust“. This is then mixed with PLA pellets to create a material ready for 3D printing into a cup. The 3D printer – presumably provided by Wasp, whose logo is emblazoned on the side of the unit – resides in the middle of the juice bar.

Visitors can watch as their cup is created and then filled with juice. After the drink is finished, the cup can be recycled. It could potentially be broken down and re-made into another cup to keep the circular economy going. In October 2019, the Circular Juice Bar was trialled at the Singularity University Summit in Milan, Italy.

Discover Solution 279: Paper Bottles, plastic free

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Materials

272: Algae-based paint

Problem:

VOC from solvent and paint emissions contribute to harmful ozone formation and peroxyacetyl nitrate. The VOC content of paint and the CO₂ emitted during manufacture are key contributors to air pollution.

Solution:

In 2008, Lionel Bouillon, keen to revive the family business of Félor in Brittany, inspired by algae-based shampoo, began to research the possibility of using algae to create a range of eco-friendly colors.


He consulted both Yves Rocher’s research team who were making algae-based cosmetics, the Rennes National School of Chemistry (ENSCR) and the Center for the Study of Algae Recovery (Ceva) so that the project would be collaborative and local.

By 2012, the prototype ecological paint composition they had obtained comprised a range of algae with one or more alga having mineral structure. This involved their preparing the paint composition by making a gel comprising water, thickening extracts and optionally additives, dispersing the algae and optionally the pigment in a mixer, and adding a binder and/or a resin or casein or its derivative, and adjusting the viscosity.

Having obtained a patent, Algo, located in Vern-sur-Seiche, a few kilometers from Rennes, in Ille-et-Vilaine, launched its first range with storytale names: Nantes Berlingot, Brioche with pralines, Southwest black cherry jam, View of the cape Erquy and Stroll in the Camargue.

Containing less than 1 gram of VOC per liter, with 0 odor, 0 solvent and 0 emissiviions, hospitals, communities or large companies were seduced, such as the headquarters of Delta Dore, the Hennessy cellar LVMH group or Rennes metropolis to renovate its nurseries.

Spotted by the DIY chain Mr. Bricolage, Algo paint was soon distributed at Leroy Merlin, Théolaur and Biocoop. Exported to Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands, Algo aimed for worldwide distribution. On Wednesday, December 13, 2017, in the framework of the COP 23, Algo received the My Positive Impact trophy.

What you can do: Painting? Use Algo paints.

Discover Solution 273: Robo bees

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