Boats built of glass-fibre reinforced plastic are very expensive to recycle and usually end up as carcasses in some muddy estuary.
Over in Friesland and Omrin, in August 2019, 10XL of Dordrecht teamed up with Frisian waste management company Morssinkhof in the creation of a 3D printed sloop made out of recycled polypropylene.
The 20ft (6m) boat was printed by a robotic arm with six axes, taking around 24 hours to create. It belongs to the municipality of Súdwest-Fryslân. Now that the company has more or less perfected the design, they are planning to open a ship building factory in Friesland.
Two months later, the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center used the world’s largest prototype polymer 3D printer to create the 25 ft (7.6 m), 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) ship, dubbed 3Dirigo. At the end of the event, the team tested the seaworthiness of its boat in UMaine’s Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory, which features a multidirectional wave basin and a high-performance wind machine.
If pushed to its limits, the 3D printer can create objects up to 100 ft. long, 22 ft. wide, and 10 ft. high.(30m x 6.7m x 3 m) (composites.umaine.edu)
Bioplastics News, July 9, 2018 ; “Frisian companies helping create 3D printed boat from recycled plastic,” The Northern Times, August 12, 2019.
Vehicles made in steel and aluminum which are costly to extract, must be taken to a scrapyard for an energy-expensive process involving crushing, then shipping off to a recycling center where they are shredded and separated into small pieces, which are then sorted into various metals.
In the early 1940s, Henry Ford experimented with making plastic parts for automobiles. These experiments resulted in what was described as a “plastic car made from soybeans.
Based on the work of Afro-American scientist/botanist George Washington Carver, the “Soybean Car” was unveiled by Henry Ford on August 13, 1941 at Dearborn Days, an annual community festival. The exact ingredients of the plastic panels are unknown because no record of the formula exists today.
On the other hand, the Trabant automobile of which several million were made between the late 1950s and about 1990, had most of its body panels made from phenol-formaldehyde reinforced with cotton. The average life span of these cars was more than 30 years.
Sixty years later, in 2001, Deborah Mielewski, the Senior Technical Leader of Materials Sustainability at Ford Motor Company’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan, initiated the biomaterials program.
Her team was the first to demonstrate soy-based foam that met all the requirements for automotive seating, enabling Ford to include the product first on the 2008 Mustang, then in every Ford North American-built vehicle.
Ford Research’s next step was to look at the agave fruit. The blue agave cactus Agave tequilana has spiked leaves and a round, fleshy core (the piña) and grows in the hot and arid regions of Mexico and the Southwestern United States.
The leaves are chopped off and the core is cooked and crushed to create juice, which is fermented and distilled to make tequila.
Jose Cuervo make the best-selling tequila in the world. As of 2012, Jose Cuervo sells 3.5 million cases of tequila in the US annually, and a fifth of the world’s tequila by volume.
Ford teamed up with Jose Cuervo to make bioplastics from agave fibre waste that otherwise must be burned or sent to the landfill, for use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses, storage bins and HVAC units. This could make cars lighter and improve fuel economy.
Mielewski at Ford has also teamed up with McDonald’s to incorporate coffee chaff — coffee bean skin that comes off during the roasting process — into the plastic headlamp housing used in some cars.
The coffee version is more sustainable because it is lighter and does not use the talc which, as a mineral, is not renewable. Coffee chaff, on the other hand, is widely available. McDonald’s also achieved its goal of sourcing all of its US coffee sustainably, one year ahead of schedule, and is also working with competitors to develop more environmentally friendly coffee cups. (corporate.ford.com)
At the Gdańsk University of Technology in Wroclaw County Selena, a research group led by Wojciech Komala, is turning to plants that are not used in the human food chain as a potential source of eco-friendly plastics.
One environmental benefit of 3D printing is the ability to print items anywhere, even in a store or at home. This theoretically could significantly reduce the need to transport items and therefore lower the emissions associated with that transportation. Unlike subtractive manufacturing, 3D printing uses only the material it needs when layer by layer is added so reducing waste, while it is also capable of reusing plastic waste.
Using 3D printing, automobile dashboards and other interior components could soon be made from Tytan which has been protected by patents in Poland, Germany, France and Great Britain.
A research team led by Professor Hiroyuki Yano at Kyoto University is working on nanocellulose, a wood pulp material for automobile door panels, fenders and car hoods, a material as strong as steel, but 80% lighter. The team chemically treats wood pulp, which consists of millions of cellulose nanofibres (CNFs), and disperses these CNFs into plastic. (rish.kyoto-u.ac.jp)
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee have spent a lot of time working with unique 3D printing materials, such as polyester, lignin and nanocellulose. In 2019, a new research collaboration between ORNL and the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center aims to increase efforts to use nanocellulose as 3D printing materials.
Together, the team will work with the forest products industry to create new bio-based 3D printing materials that can be used to make products for building components including automobiles.
One of their partners is American Process Inc. with its nanocellulose product BioPlus, made at the company’s plant in Thomaston, Georgia. ORNL have already used their “Big Area Additive Manufacturing” (BAAM) a large fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D-printer, in collaboration with Cincinnati Incorporated to print the full-sized, National Harbor Strati electric car in conjunction with Local Motors in Phoenix, Knoxville, and National Harbor.
The car took just 44 hours to print during the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, Illinois. The printing was followed by three days of milling and assembling.
After the car was printed, the mechanical and electrical parts such as battery, motors, and suspension were manually assembled, with the completed car first test-driven on September 13, 2014.
Local Motors also located to Tempe, Arizona where they teamed up with IBM’s Watson IoT’s AutoLAB to release the self-driving Olli shuttle bus. Local Motors has also set up localized micro-factories in Phoenix, Las Vegas, National Harbor, and Berlin, which design and manufacture automobiles in the regions they serve.
This plan has helped the company achieve a small-batch, on-demand business model, so they can keep a small footprint while working on big ideas such as the Olli bus, that have the potential to redefine existing industries. (ornl.gov)
In 2014, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation announced the development of a new grade of high-performance, high-transparency bio-based engineering plastic called DURABIO™, for use in touch panels on automobiles, using plant-derived isosorbide as its raw material. (m-chemical.co.jp)
Netherlands: In 2018, Eindhoven University of Technology researchers created the first car made completely out of bioplastics.
The Bioplastic car was named Noah and weighs 794 pounds (360 kg) without batteries, approximately half the weight of a regular car. The batteries weigh 132 lb (60 kg). The chassis is made from sugars, the body is made from polylactic acid (PLA) and the car is weather-proof. (tue.nl)
Morgen Filament; Axel Barrett, “First Car Made Completely From Bioplastics”
Bicycles are the most energy efficient form of transportation in the world, but the manufacturing of metal frames and components is energy and carbon intensive.
The Muzzicycle. A bicycle made of recycled plastic to replace at least some of the 2 billion in the world that are made of steel and aluminium.
In 1998, Juan Muzzi, a Uruguayan artist and mechanical engineer living in Sao Paulo, Brazil began research into PET and nylon materials including plastic bottles, shampoo containers, car dashboards and kitchen trash cans as a source of raw material, to make a plastic bicycle. It would not rust, be sturdier, more flexible and cheaper.
By 2008, Muzzi had found a way to integrate his molded frames with wheels, mudguards, pedals and seats, but it took four further years of testing to market the product to secure the seal of quality from INMETRO (Brazil’s National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality).
By then a plant had been built which could take in 17,000 tons (15,400 tonnes) of recycled plastic every year using it to produce 10,000 Muzzicycles per month in every colour of the rainbow.
With 200 plastic bottles going into each frame, the process uses far less energy than is required for making traditional metal frames, saving well over 5 tons (4.5 tonnes) of CO₂ emissions, although a steel bicycle frame will lasdt a lifetime.
In 2020, Do Bem, manufacturer of fruit juice made a promise to remove from the environment 100% of the amount of long-life cartons that it produces per year, approximately 44 million.
This has included the donation of 20 Muzzicycles to four ngos in Rio de Janeiro: “Champion Hug”, “Maré Development Network”, “Irmãos Kennedy Community Center” and “Yes, I am from the Middle”.
Additionally, while working with Teto and Ecolar, the polyaluminium used to line Do Bem’s fruit juice cartons would be recycled into glasses, tiles and floors – the last two items will be used in the construction of sustainable housing organizations.
The production of a tile, for example, takes 500 boxes. Each house has 20 square meters and is made with 63 sheets and 16 recycled tiles, which requires about 40,000 cartons
In 2012 after discovering the Muzzicycle, Juan Carlos Seguro of Medellin, Colombia set up Eco Muévete Seguro making and marketing his bikes as Re-ciclas, or Re-cycles. Seguro then partnered with a local recycling firm, Kaptar, which operates a network of bottle collecting machines that link to smartphone applications.
Bottle collectors, by depositing bottles in the machine, earn points that can be spent on benefits such as subway tokens and movie passes. Kaptar’s machines take in 2,000 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles every day.
Now there is a waiting list of at least 2,500 people to buy a recycled frame bike that is custom made in Sao Paulo. Juan Muzzi is now planning to manufacture recycled child’s bikes and plastic wheelchairs.
Overall, diesel and petrol automobiles emit hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and lead pollution contributing towards the GHG thread.
The electric automobile is far less polluting.
From 1997, the Toyota Prius hybrid-electric automobile was the ambassador for the revival of the solution of the electric automobile. Since its launch, Toyota has sold 4.3 million units Currently, over thirty manufacturers are making battery-electric automobiles with a range of 250 to 700 miles (400 to 1,000km).
According to the “Global EV Outlook 2020”, the sales of electric cars reached 2.1 million globally in 2019, surpassing 2018 – already a record year – to boost the stock to 7.2 million EVs. Annual sales of EVs is predicted to exceed 3.5 million vehicles in 2030, reaching more than 20 percent of annual vehicle sales in 2030.
BloombergNEF expects one in 10 vehicles purchased in 2025 will be battery-powered and although COVID-19 has temporarily put the brakes on, by 2022 there will be over 500 different EV models available globally.
Three of the world’s best-selling electric automobiles are the Nissan Leaf (500,000 units), the Tesla Model 3 (500,000 units) and the Renault Zoë (218,000 units), according to EV-Volumes. The two-seat Renault Twizy quadricycle has sold over 30,000 units.
Bloomberg adds that by 2040, the world will need about 12 million public charging points. As of July 2019, there were over 170,000 public charging stations for electric vehicles in Europe, over 400 charging stations are owned by Ionity with an average of six charging points per station.
As of July 2020 The Tesla-only fast-charging is now at 2,035 public stations with 18,100 individual chargers in North America, compared to about 1,400 charging points for ChargePoint, a company that operates an independent network of EV chargers and 1,660 points for Volkswagen’s Electrify America network.
General Motors is teaming up with the EVgo charging network to add 2,700 fast-charging connectors in cities across the U.S. By August 2020 EV charging stations passed the million mark globally.
There are almost one dozen Apps which inform drivers there whereabouts of the nearest and most available charging points. As the leading app for EV drivers, PlugShare provides near-global coverage of charging stations and over 800,000 downloads.
Commercial flights now account for 2.5 % of global CO2 emissions. The aircraft industry is expecting a seven-fold increase in air traffic by 2050, and a four-fold increase in GHG emissions, unless fundamental changes are made.
Fortunately the world of aviation is boldly accelerating into a new, more silent and less polluting era of electric propulsion. Described as the ‘Third Revolution’ in aviation (after heavier than air and jet engines) the introduction of hybrid-electric aircraft could be a massive breakthrough for sustainable aviation.
From the stratosphere to door-to-door, a “hangar” of differing prototypes have now entered into their series-production phase, be they airships, or airplanes carrying up to eight passengers or training would-be pilots, be they vertical take-off drones which can carry a single passenger across a city, or those for delivery, cinema or sport, or merely toys which can be hand-launched and piloted using virtual reality.
One example, the two-seat Pipistrel Taurus Electro G2 electric aircraft is being manufactured at a plant in Italy, 15 mi. (25 km) away from the current Pipistrel Headquarters in Slovenia. Work is underway to mass-produce 4-seater and 19-seater hybrid Pipistrel airplanes at a plant in China from 2020.
In Israel, the Eviation Alice can fly 650 mi. (1,046 km) at around 300mph (480kph), 260 knots with three electric motors, one on the tail and one on each wingtip. The prototype carries a 900 kWh li-ion battery and carries nine passengers.
US regional airline Cape Air has already expressed an interest in the all-electric Alice, saying it will order a “double-digit” number of the aircraft to operate on some of its short routes. The aircraft is expected to take to the skies in 2022. (eviation.co/alice).
For long haul trans-continental flights, one solution is the hydrogen fuel cell. In Germany, the first short 15-minute demonstration flight of the hydrogen fuel-cell powered HY4 was made in September 2016 at Stuttgart Airport above the public and the media; air traffic control had all the other air traffic stopped, so spectators could hear the almost-completely-silent fuel cell airplane, flown by pilots, Johannes Anton and Nejc Faganelj in one cockpit with two dummy passengers in the other.
In 2018, the E-Fan X project to develop a hybrid-electric aviation propulsion system was unveiled by Airbus, Siemens and Rolls-Royce. Parts manufacturing began in 2019, but the program fell victim to the COVID19 pandemic
In March 2017 Professor Josef Kallo, head of the Institute for Energy Conversion and Storage at Ulm University, describing this flight, announced plans to test the technological platform over the coming years before the target will be upped to six or eight seats. He explained: “Recent studies on commercial aviation show that there are indeed feasible propulsion designs for regional air travel with up to 40 seats and a range of 435 mi. (700 km) or below, even though the technical challenges are significant.”
Other solutions are being trialled such as electric tugs towing more electric airliners out to and back from the runways of international airports whose rooftop solar panels could recharge them, while one day a V-formation of long-haul airliners could create a wake to further reduce fuel consumption.
The above does not include development of half a dozen Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) 2-6 seater electric city taxi drones such as the
Construction, industrial and vehicle-generated PM10 (Particulate Matter) contribute to life-shortening cardiovascular illnesses and respiratory diseases.
To mount various types of air purifiers onto circulating vehicles. In September 2018, Bluestar, one of the UK’s largest bus operators launched the country’s first air filtering bus prototype in an effort to tackle air pollution in the city of Southampton.
They chose one of their low-emission Euro VI buses, each of which produces no more than 0.08g/km of nitrogen oxide.
The filter, designed and manufactured in collaboration with PALL Aerospace, headquartered in Port Washington, New York, the world’s largest aerospace and defence filtration company, is made in an engine barrier-type filter construction and designed to remove up to 99.5% of particles from the air without any impact on the passenger or travel experience.
Southampton was chosen as the location for the pilot following a 2018 World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which warned that the city was at the limit of unsafe air pollution.
From September 2018, running for 100 days, covering 9,000 miles (14,500 km), the pilot bus was able to clean 113 million cubic ft. (3.2 million cubic m.) of the city’s air, the equivalent to the volume of 1,288 Olympic swimming pools.
The air filter took in 35 cubic feet (1 m³) of air per second meaning that in one hour it was filtering the same volume of air as 6,000 people breathing.
It extracted PM10 weighing a total of 65g – roughly the same as a tennis ball – over the course of the trial. Encouraged, Bluestar decided to retro-fit an additional five buses on the number seven route serving Lordshill and Sholing via the general hospital, Millbrook, Shirley, City Centre and Woolston.
While a single bus has the capacity to clean the air on its route every 215 days, to a height of 33 ft. (10 m), it would take just nine days for the newly expanded fleet to achieve the same target passenger capacity and remove as much as 2.8 lb (1.25kg) of PM10 from the air every year.
Further encouraged, from summer 2020 “breathe Bluestar” introduced the technology to Oxford, Plymouth, Newcastle, Manchester, Crawley/Brighton.
A further five buses were also brought into service in Southampton. If the air filter were to be deployed on 4,600 buses across the UK, it could remove as much as 2,425 lb (1,100 kg) of PM10 particles every year.
In parallel, Bluestar also fitted a total of 19 vehicles with solar panels, one of them fitted with the air filter to see whether solar energy could be used to make the filter completely self-sufficient. (www.bluestarbus.co.uk)
The liquid CO₂ would then be delivered to a service station where it will be turned back into fuel using renewable energy. The system could theoretically work with all trucks, buses and even boats, and with any type of fuel.
The advantage of this system is that it can be retrofitted to existing vehicles in order to neutralize their impact in terms of carbon emissions. (epfl.ch/labs)
In terms of private transport, automobile manufacturer Hyundai has developed the NEXO hydrogen fuel cell automobile with an advanced air purification system capable of filtering 99.9% of very fine dust.
As a test, they teamed up with University College London (UCL) to take on London’s dirtiest driving route, which includes areas such as Kings Cross, Westminster, Elephant and Castle, and Deptford.
Hyundai claims that if just one NEXO is driven for an hour, it has the potential to purify 59 lb (26.9 kg.) of air, which it says is the same amount as 42 adults breathe in 60 minutes. The car producer also claims that if there were 10,000 NEXOs on the road it would subsequently have a carbon-reducing effect akin to planting 60,000 trees. (hyundai.com)
Other schemes in South Korea and China are also working on air purifying transport. And in Thailand there is also work on an air purifying bike.
In Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Studio Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Project has teamed up with China’s largest bike-share company Ofo, to develop a Smog Free Bicycle with a dual function: not only does it offer transport on two wheels and ease traffic congestion, it also cleans smog.
Through a device mounted on the handlebars, polluted city air is drawn in through vacuum suction while the bicycle is in motion. As the air passes through a filter, it is cleaned of harmful particles and purified, literally giving the cyclist a breath of fresh air.
Dan Roosegaarde often takes his inspiration from biomimicry for his innovative eco-friendly projects. The Smog Free Bicycle was inspired by the manta ray, the large flatfish which has a unique filter system of pores that acts as a sieve for the plankton it feeds on, while expelling the purified seawater through its gills.
The plan is to launch an initial 300 bicycles. There is interest in cities such as London, Paris and Luxembourg as part of their bicycle-sharing programs. (.studioroosegaarde.net)
Together, fleets of buses, automobiles, electric and pedal bicycles, all fitted with air filtering systems could certainly make a contribution to planet protection.