Categories
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.

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Categories
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.

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Planet Care

294: Recreational power plant

Problem:

Proximity to power plants isn’t typically a selling point for urban neighbourhoods,

Solution:

Recreational power plant


With Copenhagen’s commitment to being carbon-neutral by 2025, the team of architects and engineers at Bjarke Ingels Group has completed the “cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world” Their design for the 41,0000-square-metre plant won an international competition in 2011, with the building breaking ground two years later and the power station officially going online in March 2017

CopenHill, also known as Amager Resource Centre, replaces a 50-year old waste-to-energy plant with one that incinerates trash, then uses catalytic filtration to remove pollutants from the resulting smoke. It converts 440,000 tons of garbage annually enough to provide over 30,000 homes with electricity and 72,000 homes with heating in an area spread across five municipalities including Copenhagen.

But this is not all. CopenHill, “the epicentre for urban mountain sport, comprises an artificial ski slope that is open all year round. Operated in partnership with Snowminds Ski School, a glass elevator ferries skiers and snowboards to the top; and at 85 m the world’s tallest climbing wall, designed by walltopia; and a 490-metre-long hiking and running trail within a rooftop bar and a “lush” garden.

Once a month CopneHill hosts a new freestyle event Friday Night Freestyle. Everyone is welcome – skiers, snowboarders, rookies and pros! The event starts at 5pm where there will be a huge freestyle session on the slope. The Middelgrunden wind farm can be seen in the distance.

This “garden” is designed by collaborators SLA Architects, and is hoped to created a “vibrant green pocket” in the city for birds, bees and flowers, while absorbing heat, remove harmful air particles and minimise storm water runoff.

Due to its location on the industrial waterfront of CopenHill is also the ground level site for the site for extreme sports from wakeboarding to go-kart racing

It is hoped the building will help Copenhagen meet its goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025.

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Energy Planet Care Uncategorized

293: Passive Downdraught Evaporative Cooling (PDEC)

Problem:

Leaking CFC and HCFC-based air conditioners contribute to GHG and ozone depletion.

Solution:

Eastern architecture as an alternative to air conditioning. Chimney-like towers, (Persian: بادگیر‎ bâdgir: bâd “wind” + gir “catcher”) have been used for centuries to deliver passive cooling in arid desert regions.


Their function is to catch cooler breeze that prevail at a higher level above the ground and to direct it into the interior of the buildings. During archaeological investigations conducted by Masouda in the 1970s, the first historical evidence of windcatcher was found in the site of Tappeh Chackmaq near the city of Shahrood, Iran which dates back to 4000 BC.

A painting depicting such a device has been found at the Pharaonic house of Neb-Ammun, Egypt, which dates from the 19th Dynasty, c. 1300 BC (British Museum), while similar edifices can be found in Hyderabad, southern Pakistan.

Many traditional water reservoirs (ab anbars) are built with windcatchers that are capable of storing water at near freezing temperatures during summer months. The evaporative cooling effect is strongest in the driest climates, such as on the Iranian plateau, leading to the ubiquitous use of windcatchers in drier areas such as Kerman, Kashan, Sirjan, Nain, Bam and Yazd, the latter known as the “City of Windcatchers”.

The modernisation of windcatcher’s efficiency was proved in 1997 by Nimish Patel and Parul Zaveri of Abhikram Architects designed the 1 million ft² (93,000m2) Torrent Research Centre for Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd. in Ahmedabad, India. It is a complex of windcatchers saved around 200 tonnes of air conditioning load.

The Kensington Oval cricket ground in Barbados (2007) and the Saint-Étienne Métropole’s Zénith (2008) with their aluminum windcatcher rooves both use this method. Since 2004, over 7000 X-Air windcatchers have been installed by Monodraught Ltd. of High Wycombe on public buildings across the UK.

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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.

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Categories
Carbon Capture

291: Single-walled and mass-produced nanotubes

Problem:

In 2014 Russia was responsible for 13.7 tons (11.86 tonnes) per capita of carbon emissions.

Solution:

Russian technology is making the production of single-walled carbon nanotubes almost 100-times cheaper. Experts believe this will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Russia by as much as 180 million tons (160 million tonnes) by 2030.


Nanotubes improve the qualities of 70 % of materials known to mankind; that is, they enhance a material’s durability. This helps increase the lifetime of metals, rubber, and other materials by two or three times. And since all sorts of items will last longer, there will be a significant reduction in energy spent for producing new materials, as well as less energy spent to recycle waste.

Mikhail Predtechensky, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was the first scientist to discover a technology that can reduce the price of mass-produced single-walled nanotubes by 50 to 100-times.

In 2009, Predtechensky co-founded OCSiAl Technology (each letter in that word is the Chemical symbol for elements on the periodic table representing Oxygen, Carbon, Silicon and Aluminium). The pilot industrial facility for single wall carbon nanotubes synthesis named Graphetron 1.0 was installed in the Nanomodified Materials Centre at the Technopark of Novosibirsk Akademgorodok, in the R&D centre of OCSiAl.

Four years later, OCSiAl launched the world’s largest industrial system for synthesizing single-walled Graphetron 1.0 nanotubes called Tuball which is capable of producing11 tons per year (10 tonnes) SWCNT and is already building a plant in Luxembourg for a 55 tonnes per year (50 tonne) turn-key production of SWCNT.

OCSiAl’s process for producing SWCNT is protected by patents and patent applications in 50 countries, owned by a global holding company headquartered in Luxembourg, with offices in the USA, Russia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and India. (ocsial.com)

This technology allows the synthesis of a wide range of carbon nanomaterials. In the near future the company plans to establish in Novosibirsk a center for prototyping technologies based on single-layered carbon nanotubes to create rubber, composites, li-ion batteries, and many other materials.

Producers in more than 30 countries buy nanotubes made in Novosibirsk, including South Korea, Japan, the USA, Germany, and Israel. “The nanotubes’ qualities are well-known across the world, yet many still perceive them as highly specialized additives, and so we are fighting this stereotype,” said Kulgaeva.

In July 2019, Chinese companies Haiyi Scientific Trading and Shenyang East Chemical Science Tech both won permission to mass-produce the OCSiAL Tuball Batts. With their combined production capacities, the partners anticipate manufacturing 7,000 tons of Tuball Batts for Chinese battery manufacturers whose grail is a 300 Wh/kg energy density.

In March 2019, a team of researchers at MIT created a new cathode for lithium battery cells which could allow for smaller and lighter lithium batteries. The team said an initial version of the battery, without optimization, achieved a gravimetric energy density of more than 360 Wh/kg, and volumetric energy density of 581 Wh/liter.

The researchers added that with further work and optimization they believed the battery could reach 400 Wh/kg and 700 Wh/liter – greatly increased from commercially available 260WH/kg li-ion batteries made by several manufacturers in Japan, China and South Korea.

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Energy

290: Million-Mile Battery

Problem:

Most electric car batteries today already last 100,000 to 200,000 miles before needing replacement, though, while most gas-engine cars today only last 150,000 miles before getting junked. A large proportion of these batteries include cobalt, an expensive and precious material that is often mined by workers who are subject to poor pay and brutal conditions.

Solution:

Three companies have developed a battery that can claim 1 million miles (1.6 million km) in total lifespan, last at least two decades in grid energy storage and give an electric vehicle an autonomy of 600 miles (1000 km).


Adam S. Kwiatkowski and a team at General Motors’ Global Electric Propulsion Systems have developed the Ultium large-format pouch cell battery which follow a NCMA (nickel cobalt manganese aluminium) chemistry that was developed within GM and require fewer connectors and other parts to function.

Compared to existing NCM cells, the Ultium is lower in cobalt content but with aluminum added to the cathode structure for longer life. Zero-cobalt and zero-nickel cells are also being tested, as well as with electrolyte additives and zeolite additives.

GM is working on such advances as zero-cobalt electrodes, solid state electrolytes and ultra-fast charging. GM is aiming to ramp up to a million electric vehicles per year by 2025, to be split between the U.S. and China. The new joint venture will supply U.S. vehicle production and could build up to 30 gigawatt-hours annually.

The second company is Tesla who will soon introduce a lower-cost, longer-lasting “million mile” battery for its electric vehicles in China. The battery, also a pouch-cell design, is being co-developed with Chinese battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL) working with battery experts recruited by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, including Jeff Dahn at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The battery is expected to lower the cost per kilowatt hour (the unit of energy most commonly used to measure the capacity of the battery packs in modern electric vehicles) to under $100. By a coincidence, Tesla’s Chinese battery cell provider CATL is also working with GMs local partner SAIC (formerly known as Shanghai General Motors Company Ltd).

In Baoding in the Hebei Province of China, Svolt Energy Technology (the former battery business unit of Great Wall Motor Company) has produced a 24 GWh cobalt-free lithium-ion battery. By using single-crystal Co-free materials and stacking technology for cell design, plus the array-PACK design and the automotive-grade intelligent manufacturing process, Svolt has created a battery with a warranty of 15 years or 750,000 mi (1.2 million km) and an EV range of almost 500 mi (800 km)

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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%.

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Energy

288: SeaTwirl

Problem:

Installing offshore wind turbines takes time and money.

Solution:

Sea Twirl


SeaTwirl is a floating vertical axis wind turbine (VAWTT) with a tower placed on an underwater structure which consists of a buoyancy component and a keel at its lowest point.

In 2007 Daniel Ehrnberg of Göteborg, a physicist interested in sustainable energy devices, successfully invented and patented the first prototype offshore energy storage device he called SeaTwirl.

The S2 version of his solution included a turbine that is divisible above and below the house that holds the generator and bearing, meaning that their entire housing can be replaced just above the water surface by boat.

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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.

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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)

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Energy

285: Offshore floating wind farm

Problem:

Towards the end of 2019 there were 5,000 offshore wind turbines in 110 parks with a total power output of 22.1 Gigawatts. Fixed to the seabed, these turbines are limited to shallow waters. Yet close to 80% of the world’s offshore wind resource potential is in waters deeper than 60 metres, too deep for the foundations, but where winds are stronger and more consistent.

Solution:

Floating offshore wind turbines.


Norway
In June 2009, Norway’s Statoil (now Equinor) launched Hywind, the world’s first operational deep-water floating large-capacity wind turbine. The 120 metres (390 ft) tall tower with a 2.3 MWh turbine was towed 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) offshore into the Amoy Fjord in 220 metres (720 ft) deep water off Stavanger, Norway for a two-year test run.

In October 2020, Norway-based OIM Wind, together with its financial partners, has signed an EPC contract with the CIMC Yantai Raffles Offshore shipyard in China and its Swedish subsidiary Basstech for the construction of an installation vessel capable of installing giant next-generation XXL offshore wind turbines, including full height towers that reach more than 130 metres.

The vessel, currently referred to as BT-220IU Wind Installation Unit, will enter into service by the end of 2022 and will be operated by Norwegian company OSM Maritime. It is LNG-powered, battery-backed up, and made for 15+ MW wind turbines. It will feature a Huisman heavy lift crane with a lifting capacity of 2,600 tonnes. The crane will have a main hook height of 165 metres above deck and 195 metres above sea level, even at the vessel’s maximum operational water depth of 67 metres.

Scotland
Following proof that the suction anchor system worked, Equinor and Masdar launched the world’s first floating wind turbine farm, at a depth of 100 metres and situated 29 kilometres (18 mi) off Peterhead, Scotland. The farm has five 6 MW Hywind floating turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW.

Work is now underway for the 88MW Hywind Tampen floating wind farm will comprise 11 Siemens Gamesa 8MW wind turbines supported by the Hywind technology developed by Equinor and expected to come online in late 2022.Once commissioned, the wind farm is projected to cover a third of the total energy needs of two oil and gas platforms, Gullfaks and Snorre, with wind power instead of gas.

France
Floatgen is the only floating wind turbine in France today. It is situated off the Mediterranean coast of Le Croisic, one of the largest wind resources in Europe, The venture is a joint venture of Ideol, Bouygues Travaux Publics, Centrale Nantes engineering school, RSK Group, Zabala, the University of Stuttgart, and Fraunhofer IWES. The anchorage system, developed by Ideol is a ring-shaped floating foundation based on a central opening system and called a Damping PooAbove this a Vestas V80 turbine is mounted. After two years of trial,  in February 2020, Floatgen produced 9 GWh of electricity

Italy
Milan-based Ichnusa Wind Power has applied with the Port Authority of Cagliari for a 30-year concession to build and operate an export cable connection for Sardegna Sud Occidentale a floating wind farm off the west coast of Sardinia. Some 35 kilometres off the coast of the San Pietro island, it will comprise 42 wind turbines measuring 265 meters each, on a sea surface of 49 thousand square meters.

Instead of the conventional three-bladed turbines, the Ichnusa solution uses a single-bladed angled, scalable rotor, able to adjust its angle to the wind currents of up to 70 m/s. The planned capacity is 12 MW each for a total of 504 MW.

Portugal
In October 2011, Principle Power installed their 2 MW WindFloat turbine 5 kilometers off the Portuguese Atlantic coast where, during the next five years, it encountered 17-metre wave heights and 111km/h winds, but generated 17GWh of electricity.

Based on this, in January 2020, Principle Power is preparing a the world’s first semi-submersible floating wind farm for operation 20km off the coast of Viana do Castelo, Portugal. The wind farm is being developed by the Windplus consortium that includes EDP Renewables (54.4%), Repsol (19.4%), Engie (25%) and Principle Power (1.2%).

Japan
The Fukushima floating offshore wind farm demonstration project (Fukushima FORWARD) serves as a symbol of Fukushima’s recovery from the nuclear disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The phased development of the project includes the installation of three floating wind turbines and a substation at approximately 23km off the Fukushima coast.

The project is sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).The Fukushima Offshore Wind Consortium comprises ten companies, namely Marubeni, the project integrator, University of Tokyo, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan Marine United, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, Hitachi, Furukawa Electric, Shimizu, and Mizuho Information & Research.

The first phase of the project consisted of a 2MW compact semi-sub floating wind turbine, the world’s first 66kV floating power sub-station and undersea cables. The turbine has a rotor diameter of 80m and a hub height of 65m above sea level (asl) and is placed on a floater called Fukushima MIRAI. A downwind-type blade, located leeward, was used for the project in order to make the most of the upward wind blowing from the surface of the sea.

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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.

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Planet Care Your Home

283: Microfilter clothes washing devices

Problem:

700,000 plastic microfibers come off synthetic garments when they go into a machine. By coming off, these fibers pass through the filters of the washing machines, which are not equipped to retain these microparticles. Since wastewater treatment plants do not have the capacity to filter them, they end up in sewage and, therefore, in the oceans. These fibers finally finish their course in the organism of marine animals.

Solution:

Microfilter clothes washing devices


In 2005, Brian Koski of Wexco Environmental Inc., Milaca, Minnesota developed the Filtrol 160 attachable filter which removes non-biodegradable materials and fibers, such as lint,hair, pet fur, sand, food and other debris, from a washing machine discharge. Filtrols are now in use problem in thousands of homes, businesses, and residential properties across the USA.

In 2008, keen surfers, Alexander Nolte and Oliver Spies co-founded of LANGBRETT GmbH specializing in environmentally friendly surf, skate and outdoor apparel with retail stores in Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.

Concerned with micro-particle pollution, they conceived of a plastic filter bag specially designed to retain these particles during a clothes wash. Nolte and Spies worked with German research institute Fraunhofer to test and vet the bag’s design and material.

They settled on polyamide, also known as nylon, that does not shed synthetic fibers easily. It is made with a 50-micron mesh, a width that allows soapy water to enter the bag without allowing fibers to leave. They trade named their patented innovation the Guppyfriend.

Guppyfriend attracted the attention of Patagonia, the American clothing company, Greener Grazing program at Australis Aquaculture when word about the project reached Phil Graves, managing director of Tin Shed Ventures, Patagonia’s investment fund. Patagonia already had a relationship with LANGBRETT, which sells Patagonia clothing.

They received early prototypes of the bag and tested them with the UCSB researchers they had worked with on their fiber loss study. They confirmed that the bag trapped anywhere from 90-95% of fibers. When the bag is removed from the washer at the end of a cycle, the fiber – visible against the white mesh – can be removed by hand and disposed of. Tests show that the bag remains functional and intact after hundreds of washings.

Since then, Nolte and Spies are also working on reducing microfiber losses before the fabric reaches the laundry room. They are working with Deutsche Textilforschungszentrum, a German standards body, to create a metric that will show the rate and amount of fiber losses of a given textile. They hope clothing designers will choose fabrics that aren’t prone to shedding. (en.guppyfriend.com)

In Ljubljana, Slovenia, a team led by Mojca Zupan and her engineer Hakim El Khiar have developed the PlanetCare washing machine filter. PlanetCare filters are available worldwide from an online shop. Every user receives a filter, replacement cartridges, a hose, a mount, and a small counter of wash cycles.

After the initial installation, the user will need to replace a full cartridge after approximately 20 wash cycles. After installing the last new cartridge, they return the used cartridges to PlanetCare for recycling (cartridges come in a returnable box with prepaid postage) who will send you a new set.

A commercial PlanetCare filter is designed for the service industry. Laundromats, hotels, hospitals, marinas: wherever washing machines operate 24 hours a day. This filter has been tested and approved by four renowned institutions: University of Slovenia, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), the Swedish Environmental Agency and a washing machine manufacturer.

As of January 1, 2025, based on a decree passed by the French Ministry of Ecological Transition, all new washing machines must be fitted with microplastic filters, while manufacturers would obtain an environmental bonus if they transitioned before 2025.

What you can do: Use one of these filter to help reduce microfiber pollution.

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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.

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Planet Care Uncategorized

281: Sea grass

Problem:

Mitigation and adaptation to extreme weather conditions is particularly applicable to small islands.

Solution:

Similar to several Indo-Pacific islands, the Maldives is committed to building a strong business case to protect tropical coastal wetlands given their importance for fish production, coastal protection, water purification and carbon storage (i.e., Blue Carbon). One solution to this is the cultivation of sea grass (angiosperms).


Sea grass produces oxygen, stabilises sediment, protects shorelines, and gives food and shelter to marine life. A sea grass meadow creates a home for up to 20 times more fish. Up to 100,000 fish can live in just one hectare of sea grass. 2.5 ac (1 ha) of sea grass can be a home for up to 19 turtles.

In 2016 the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) and Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), along with luxury resort Six Senses Laamu joined together to demonstrate how sea grass and tourism can coexist and generate positive outcomes. As their work gained momentum, the collaboration launched the

“ProtectMaldivesSeagrass” campaign, asking resorts, as well as the public, to pledge their support for the protection and preservation of sea grass beds in Maldives.

Sea grass bed restoration is also taking place elsewhere.

As of 2019 the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre of Central Queensland University has been growing seagrass for six years and has been producing seagrass seeds. They have been running trials in germination and sowing techniques.

In a study of a species of seagrass called Posidonia oceanic, Anna Sanchez-Vidal, a marine biologist Department of Stratigraphy, Paleontology and Marine Geosciences at the University of Barcelona has discovered that plastic debris on the Mediterranean seafloor can be trapped in seagrass remains called “Neptune Balls”, eventually leaving the marine environment through beaching.

With no help from humans, the swaying plants – anchored to shallow seabeds – may collect nearly 900 million microplastic items in the Mediterranean alone every year, nearly 1,500 pieces per kilo of Neptune Balls or up to 600 bits per kilo of leaves.

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Energy Uncategorized

280: Radiative passive cooling system

Problem:

With the melting of Arctic ice and mountain glaciers which had previously reflected back solar heat and maintained global cooling, alternatives must be found, particularly for the air conditioning of buildings which traditionally use chemicals and electricity.

Solution:

Qiaoqiang Gan, Electrical Engineering Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, working with staff from King Abdullah’s Saudi Arabian University have has developed an air conditioning system using a unique plastic on a roof that allows heat to pass back into the sky.


The ideal material for radiant cooling is such as a mirror or white paint. They will scatter or reflect most of the solar light. Therefore, the solar light will not heat the object. Then it’s easier to cool it down. Gan’s Newtact system, going beyond simple white paint, consists of an inexpensive polymer/aluminium film that is installed inside a box at the bottom of a specially designed solar “shelter.”

Taken together, the shelter-and-box system the engineers designed measures about 18 in. tall (45.72 cm), 10 in. (25. cm) wide and 10 in. long (25.4 cm). As a commercially viable alternative, the researchers fabricated their thermal emitter from polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and either silver or aluminium.

The PDMS film absorbs heat from the environment and then transmits the heat to cool down its surroundings. The metal reflects the solar light to prevent the transmission of sunlight to materials under the emitter, such as a roof.

The film helps keep its surroundings cool by absorbing heat from the air inside the box and transmitting that energy into outer space. The shelter serves a dual purpose, helping to block incoming sunlight, while also beaming thermal radiation emitted from the film into the sky.

Outdoor experiments performed in Buffalo, NY, to test the device provided cooling of up to 9 °C. To cool a building, numerous units of the system would need to be installed to cover its roof.

America
Working in Stanford University, Shanhui Fan, Eli A; Goldstein, and Aaswath Pattabhi Raman have also developed a flat rectangular metal panel covered in a sheet of the material: a high-tech film which reflects the light and heat of the sun so effectively that the temperature beneath the film can drop 5 to 10° C (9 to 18° F) lower than the air around it.

A system of pipes behind the RC panel is exposed to that colder temperature, cooling the fluid inside before it is sent out to current-day refrigeration systems. More efficient than any vapour-compression based cooling system, the panel can also prevent the emissions of CO2 and other harmful greenhouse gases. It can be roof-mounted as a simple add-on to new and existing cooling systems

To commercialise their innovation, Fan, Goldstein and Raman started up a company, SkyCool Systems in Davis, California. As a pilot study, they installed an array of RC panels on the roof a supermarket as a subcooler and were pleased to observe a 10% to 15% efficiency improvement target, although subcooling could be as much as 20°F (11°C) below the outlet of the condenser. Other studies have followed.

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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. 

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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.

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Energy Planet Care

277: Nuclear fusion power station -Tokamak reactors

Problem:

The world’s 440 nuclear fission plants generate only 10% of the world’s electrity while presenting the lethal menace of dealing with waste by transporting it to deep earth burial sites.

Solution:

Nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two lighter nuclei, typically isotopes of hydrogen, combine together under conditions of extreme pressure and temperature to form a heavier nucleus, releasing energy in the process. Fusion has been powering the sun and stars since their formation.


Unlike fission, fusion will have a low burden of radioactive waste. The energy released during fusion in the sun makes all life on earth possible. The simplest way to replicate the primordial source of power on earth is via the fusion of deuterium and tritium.

Deuterium is found aplenty in ocean water, enough to last for billions of years. Naturally occurring tritium is extremely rare, but it can be produced inside a reactor by neutron activation of lithium, found in brines, minerals and clays. Moreover, to run a 1,000 MW power plant with a fusion reactor, it is estimated that about 150kg of deuterium and three tonnes of lithium would be required per year, while the current fission reactors consume 25 to 30 tonnes of enriched uranium.

Fusion’s by-product is helium, which is an inert, non-toxic, non-radioactive gas used to inflate balloons. In addition, a fusion power plant would not require transporting hazardous radioactive materials.

The 35-nation International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) including states from theEuropean Union, the USA, India, Japan, South Korea and Russia began construction at Cadarache in France. It is the world’s largest fusion reactor, taking up equivalent to 60 football pitches.

Launched in 2006, ITER was beset with technical delays, labyrinthine decision-making and costs that have soared from an initial estimate of five billion euros to around 20 billion euros.

In the chaos of the United Kingdom’s leaving the European Union, or Brexit, there is now at least one certainty: As the UK’s quest to produce clean energy from nuclear fusion by 2040, The Culham Centre for Fusion Energy Oxfordshire, UK but supported by the European Union will keep operating until the end of 2020, thanks to a €100 million infusion of EU funds.

The deal, agreed in April 2019, will enable the Joint European Torus (JET) to embark on a daring fusion campaign with a rare, tricky fuel that will help pave the way for its successor: the giant ITER fusion reactor under construction in France.

The agreement comes as a relief to fusion researchers, who had feared JET would be shut down after Brexit. Now, they can go ahead with plans to gradually switch to a fuel mix of deuterium and tritium, both hydrogen isotopes. The latter is rare and hard to handle, but the change will provide the most ITER-like dress rehearsal before the main event in 2025. The same “D-T” reactions will ultimately power ITER and the commercial reactors that follow it.

Nuclear fusion is usually done in hollow, donut-shaped reactors called tokamaks, which are filled with rings of plasma as hot as the Sun. Soviet scientists coined the term as a shortening of the Russian for “toroidal magnetic confinement.”

The name is perfectly descriptive. A tokamak is a torus—the math term for a donut. But this takes tremendous effort to maintain the intense pressures and temperatures required for an “artificial star” here on Earth. Eruptions called edge-localized modes (ELMs) have been damaging the walls of reactors, making them less secure and requiring the replacement of parts far too regularly.

The problem was that the plasma used is inherently unstable, and large eruptions can damage the reactors containing it. Recently, physicists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have found that creating a series of small ELMs could prevent larger, more damaging ones from occurring.

These smaller eruptions could be triggered by injecting granules of beryllium, measuring about 1.5 mm thick into the boiling plasma at regular intervals. Following computer simulations, the team ran physical experiments in the DIII-D, a tokamak reactor housed in the National Fusion Facility in San Diego prior to testing the technique out on other tokamaks, such as the Joint European Torus (JET).

The next breakthrough came when scientists developed a new superconducting material, essentially a steel tape coated with yttrium-barium-copper oxide (YBCO) enabling smaller and more powerful magnets. This in turn lowers the energy required to get the fusion reacton off the ground. With 18 nobium-in superconducting magnets (aka torroidal-field coils) installed, 150 million degrees celius was finally in sight

November 2019 saw the completion of the seven-storey Tokamak Building, after six million work hours, performed by approximately 850 workers since 2010. Some 105,000 tonnes of concrete, reinforced by approximately 20,000 tonnes of steel rebar, had gone into the building’s construction.

Transport of component parts was been a major undertaking. The PF6 (the second-smallest of the six coils that circle the vacuum vessel) weighing 396 tonnes and measuring 40 ft. (12 m.) long, 36 ft. (11 m.) wide and a little more than 13 ft. (4 m.) high, was made in China under an agreement signed between the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) and the procuring party, the European Domestic Agency.

Transported by ship, having arrived at Fosses-sur-Mer, the port of Marseilles, for this “highly exceptional load” (HEL) to reach the ITER site, approximately 2,220 cubic yards (1,700 cubic m.) of roadside rock and trees had to be removed. This is just one of approximately 100 large components for the magnet feeder system, adding up to 1,600 tonnes of equipment in all and measuring from 100 to 160 ft. (30 to 50 m.) in length.

Among other components to be delivered was the 18 m., or 60 ft. (18 m.), tall 1000-tonne “Central Solenoid,” the superconducting electromagnet that stands along the central axis of the tokamak, sometimes referred to as “the beating heart of ITER,” under manufacture by General Atomics in Poway, California, near San Diego.

This 1,000-metric-ton solenoid will have 5.5 gigajoules of stored energy to enable 100-million-degree-Celsius plasmas within carefully defined magnetic fields. In some locations, there will be only 10 mm of space—the width of a thick pencil—between the massive central solenoid and a 45 foot (13 m.) tall “D”-shaped toroidal field magnet.

Despite the delay caused by the COVID-19 lockdown, the project began its five-year assembly phase in July 2020, launched by the French president, Emmanuel Macron alongside senior figures from ITER members, the EU, UK, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US. In February 2021, after enduring a battery of rigorous tests, the first of seven 45,000 amp superconducting magnet modules was given the green light. Built at General Dynamics of San Diego, it is now en route for ITER’s central solenoid.
Trials were due to begin in 2021 and if successful, regular power supply will be in 2025. (iter.org)

Meanwhile, by November 2019, following delivery of the coil system, the Southwestern Institute of Physics (SWIP) under the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) completed the construction of HL-2M, the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) at a research centre in Chengdu, the capital city of southwest China’s Sichuan province.
人造太阳 (Rénzào tàiyáng = artificial sun), expected to generate plasmas hotter than 200 million°C should also be operational in 2020. (cnnc.com.cn)

On November 24th 2020, The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), a superconducting fusion device also known as the Korean artificial sun, set the new world record as it succeeded in maintaining the high temperature plasma for 20 seconds with an ion temperature over 100 million degrees Celsius (retention time: about 1.5 seconds) the same temperature as the core of the Sun—its hottest part. In a continuing research program with the Seoul National University (SNU) and Columbia University of the United States, KSTAR aims to continuously operate high-temperature plasma over the 100-million-degree for 300 seconds by 2025.

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Carbon Capture

276: Microbial fungi and bacteria for CO2 capture

Solution:

The Soil Carbon Co. of Orange, New South Wales, Australia is developing a solution that allows plants to sequester way more carbon than they do naturally. On farms along the East Coast of Australia, growers are testing out the solution of planting seeds coated in microbial fungi and bacteria that can help capture CO2 from the air.

Farmers Mick Wettenhall & Guy Webb had been working together for over a decade on ways of building their soil carbon with methods like reduced-till, mixed cover crops and experimenting with compost, when their heard how Peter A. McGee of Sydney University had been developing recalcitrant soil carbon using fungi. More carbon in soils would not only give agronomic benefits but creates an opportunity for farmers to trade a new commodity: sequestered carbon.

They called this the Second Crop. If it were to be used on farmland globally, they calculated it could sequester around 8.5 gigatons of carbon every year—or around a quarter of total CO2 emissions. It could also store that carbon for a longer time than some “regenerative agriculture” techniques that also aim to capture carbon. The solution involves inoculating crops with symbiotic micro-organisms.

Not only do these microbes improve the host plant’s fertility and protection against disease, but they also help the soil around the plant’s roots to store carbon more effectively, leading to better quality soil for future planting. The “Second Crop” process also makes the soil healthier, so farmers should see better yields and be able to use less fertilizer. It’s a relatively simple change to make; farmers either buy microbe-coated seeds or coat their own seeds themselves, something that is commonly done with other products.

In June 2020 Soil Carbon Co raised A$10 million ($6.94 million) in seed funding in a round led by Horizons Ventures, the VC firm set up by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing. After finishing trials in both Australia and the USA, the Second Crop system will be launched commercially. Unlike other solutions such as carbon-capture machines, it can scale up almost immediately and does not require the acquisition of new equipment.

There are around one billion farmers around the world working at the intersection of atmosphere and soil every day—and the infrastructure already in place.

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Planet Care

275: WasteShark

Solution:

A marine robot or aquadrone to eat waste and collect data.
Oliver Cunningham and Richard Hardiman co-founded RanMarine Technology in Rotterdam, the Netherlands to launch the The WasteShark, the world’s first marine robot designed specifically to capture plastics, microplastics, oils and other pollutants and collect data. Hardiman, from Cape Town, South Africa wanted to create a device that could help clean trash out of a harbour before it reached the ocean.

WasteShark floats through the sea just like the former with its mouth open, collecting garbage instead of fish As it navigates the water the electrically-propelled WasteShark emits no carbon, produces no noise or light pollution, and poses no threat to wildlife.

It can travel up to 5 km and collect up to 350kg of waste at a time.  WasteShark is also supported by a docking- and recharging station. One WasteShark can collect in excess of 15 tonnes of waste a year, with the plastic recycled to make products.

With 10 WasteSharks being tested around the world in India, the Netherlands, the U.S., and Cape Town, from December 2020, WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue launched a WasteShark in north Devon, England to clean up Ilfracombe harbour

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Planet Care

274: Seabin

Problem:

Garbage is always to be found floating near ports and harbours, private marinas and yacht clubs.

Solution:

Seabin was invented and developed by two Australian ocean lovers, Andrew Turton, skipper, boat builder and surfer and Pete Ceglinski, surfer and industrial designer in injection-molded plastic products.

Witnesses of the damage caused by plastic pollution across the globe, they chose to devote their energy to find effective solutions and to carry out educational actions to change behaviors.

They developed a “trash skimmer” whereby rubbish and debris are brought into a bin thanks to a submersible water pump capable of displacing 6,600 gallons per hour (25,000 LPH (liters per hour), plugged directly into a 110/22v outlet. They are then collected in a catch bag which is removed and replaced.

The product was tested for four years and never had fish caught up in the bin. Although Ceglinski has taken out a patent, he was not the first. In 1992 Louis W. Pasoz obtained a patent for Apparatus and method for removal of floating debris.

The design and development of the Seabin project is based in Palma, Mallorca, Spain at the design center “The Sea” a factory space set up for creatives. The Sea has office and meetings space, an events gallery and a workshop area ideal for the Seabin project.

The Palma Mallorca location is important for the Seabin project, being the central hub of Europe’s marine industry and also having quick international access.

Following trials in France at La Grande Motte, Seabins built of recycled materials by Poralu Marine, were soon being trialled at various European ports. In 2017, the major shipbuilder, Wärtsilä signed up, as the first big industrial company, to partner with the Seabin Project and donated 35 Seabins to various locations globally.

By 2019 there were over 60 Seabins in Europe from the UK to Liguria, including the canals of Paris and Swiss Lake Lugano.

Three Seabins in Toronto, Canada are the first to be installed in a North American harbour. By 2019, following a video campaign which went viral, SeaBins are in use in 52 countries around the world which have collected more than half a million tonne of marine litter.

Before long, Seabins had arrived at Pete Ceglinski’s native country with the installation of two Seabins in the Port Macquarie Marina, New South Wales, Australia. The purchase of the first Seabin was made possible through a NSW EPA litter grant, the first one in Australia to be used for the purchase of Seabin clean technology.

Seabin is also supported with a seed investment by Australian marine technology development company Shark Mitigation Systems Pty. Ltd. (SMS). SMS has technology partnerships with Google and Australian telecommunications company Optus, and is on a pathway to IPO listing on the Australian Stock Exchange.

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Planet Care

273: Robo bees

Problem:

The honey bee (Apis Mellifera), which pollinates nearly one-third of the food we eat, has been dying at unprecedented rates because of a mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).

The crisis is generally attributed to a mixture of disease, parasites, and pesticides. If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.

Solution:

In late June 2014, The White House gave a new task force just 180 days to devise a coping strategy to protect bees and other pollinators.


Inspired by the biology of a bee, researchers, led by engineering Professor Robert Wood at the Microrobotics Lab of the Wyss Institute, Harvard University, began developing Autonomous Flying Microbots aka RoboBees, man-made systems that could perform myriad roles in agriculture or disaster relief.

A RoboBee measures about half the size of a paper clip, weighs less than one-tenth of a gram, and flies using “artificial muscles” compromised of materials that contract when a voltage is applied. To construct RoboBees, researchers at the Wyss Institute have developed innovative manufacturing methods, so-called Pop-Up micro-electromechanical (MEMs) technologies that have already greatly expanded the boundaries of current robotics design and engineering.

A Robobee can lift off the ground and hover midair when tethered to a power supply. After two years of R&D, in 2016 the Wyss team announced that their Robobees can now perch on objects from any angle, using an electrode patch and a foam mount that absorbs shock to perch on surfaces and conserve energy in flight, like bats, birds or butterflies.

The new perching components weigh 13.4 mg, bringing the total weight of the robot to about 100mg, similar to the weight of a real bee. The robot takes off and flies normally. When the electrode patch is supplied with a charge, it can stick to almost any surface, from glass to wood to a leaf. To detach, the power supply is simply switched off.

But they still need to be able to fly on their own and communicate with each other to perform tasks such as a real honeybee hive is capable of doing. The researchers believe that as soon as 10 years from now these RoboBees could artificially pollinate a field of crops, a critical development if the commercial pollination industry cannot recover from severe yearly losses over the past decade.

RoboBees will work best when employed as swarms of thousands of individuals, coordinating their actions without relying on a single leader. The hive must be resilient enough so that the group can complete its objectives even if many bees fail.

The new generation four-wing hybrid RoboBee X-Wing can dive into water, swim, propel itself back out of water, and safely land. Although only one-quarter the weight of a paper clip, it still needs the extra lift provided by its two extra wings to carry its on-board electronics and six tiny solar cells.

Since the robot is untethered unlike other similar robotic insects, it gets its power from the sun — or from powerful lamps, which the researchers used during their tests. The solar cells generate 5 volts of electricity, and a small onboard transformer turns it into the 200 volts of electricity the RoboBee needs to lift off. That voltage causes the bee’s piezoelectric actuators to bend and contract such as the real insect’s muscles would, leading to the flapping motion of the robot’s wings. (wyss.harvard.edu)

Even though the X-Wing does not need a tether, it still cannot be deployed in real missions. For one, it requires light three times the intensity of our sun to be able to generate the power it needs. In addition, it does not work when it is not directly under the light and could only fly for a second or two during testing until it veers out of view. The researchers need to equip it with a power storage solution so it can fly in the dark. But that would make it heavier.

In 2017, Eijiro Miyako, a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, developed a drone to deliver pollen between flowers. The bottom is covered in horsehair and coated in a special sticky gel. When the drone flies onto a flower, pollen grains stick lightly to the gel, and then rub off on the next flower visited. (aist.go.jp)

In March 2018, Walmart filed a patent for autonomous, pollination drones. In 2019, scientists at the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) Russia launched a robo-bee prototype at least seven times bigger than real bees, or the size of a human palm.

Another approach was taken by Anna Haldewang, a 24-year-old industrial design student at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia, USA. Haldewang created 50 designs of a bee drone before landing on the final model, Plan Bee, which does not resemble a bee at all.

The drone consists of a foam core, a plastic-shell body and two propellers. There are also six sections of the drone that meet at the bottom, all of which have tiny holes that let the machine gather pollen while it hovers over plants. It can then release the pollen at a later time for cross-pollination.

Haldewang noted that Plan Bee is still in its early stages, but she has filed a patent for the technology and design. Its application in backyards as a teaching tool has potential, but the drone could conceivably be used in large-scale farming, even in hydroponic farming.

Discover Solution 274: SeaBin

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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.

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Planet Care Materials Mobility

271: OEOO (One Earth – One Ocean)

Problem:

After fishing plastic waste out of the ocean, it normally has to be shipped back to port and on to a recycling plant.

Solution:

Günter Bolin is a passionate sailor. On his ocean voyages, the Munich-based IT entrepreneur came across ever increasing amounts of plastic waste. He decided to put his IT company to rest and to deal intensively with solving the global plastic waste problem.


In 2011 with Dr. Harald Frank, Erich Groever, Lennart Rölz, Bolin founded the environmental organization One Earth – One Ocean (OEOO). In 2013, One Earth – One Ocean e.V. was awarded the prestigious GreenTec Award 2013, Europe’s largest environmental and business award, for its concept of “marine litter cleanup”.

Since then, from its Kiel and Hamburg bases, OEOO has been developing various types of ships to collect plastic waste from the sea: Since 2012, five 5m x 2 m SeeHamsters developed by OEOO have been sailing in rivers and port areas. These are equipped with a collapsible safety net or safety harness to collect plastic waste from inland waters.

The SeeKuh, a plastic collecting ship measuring 12m × 10 m, has also been in use since 2016. It is used collect the plastic debris and the plastic that is floating up to 4 meters under the surface in coastal regions and estuaries of the Baltic Sea and in Hong Kong.

In 2018 OEOO became an official partner of the UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign. During the past two years, OEOO has been developing the SeeElefant, (= Elephant Seal) a container ship that is designed to take on board the rubbish collected by the hamsters and cows and process, sort, process and, among other things, reprocess it into oil using the system technology integrated in the ship.

Over the past few years OEOO has carried out a feasibility study for this largest ship model; the pilot system is scheduled to start in 2021.

In the future, this vessel will press the finds into single-variety plastic balls that can be processed into new products on land. For the SeeElefant, OEOO received the Federal Ecodesign Award in the “Concept” category in 2019.

With the second generation of the SeeKuh, which is currently under construction, the garbage will be divided into recyclable and non-recyclable materials. Organics such as algae and mussels are sorted out and returned to the sea. So far, the recycling garbage has been given unsorted to local recycling companies.

OEOO’s vision is to establish as many systems of collection vehicles and processing vessels as possible, preferably in front of each river mouth. Because when no more rubbish ends up in the sea, it helps a lot. Once it’s drifted into the open sea, it’s actually too late.

What you can do: Reduce your plastic usage.

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Energy Planet Care

270: Nature Urbaine

Problem:

Fruit and veg on average travel by refrigerated air and land transport between 2,400 and 4,800 kilometres from farm to market. The global transportation force is the largest of humanity’s carbon-emitting activities, and reducing the number of flights and truckloads of produce is a great place to start cutting the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere.

Solution:

In 2016, Pascal Hardy, an engineer in agro-development had the intuition that growing towers could be used to set large farms on the rooftops of cities and created Agripolis Organics in Paris.

He started with the roof of Hall 6 at the six-storey Paris Exhibition Centre in the in the 15th arrondissement of the capital, designing the largest urban rooftop farm in the world, covering 3.4 acres, about the size of two soccer pitches. aeroponic or vertical growing techniques would be used to create fruits and vegetables without the use of pesticides, refrigerated trucks, chemical fertilizer, or even soil.


By 2019, “Nature Urbaine” (French for Urban Nature) was supplying produce to local residents, including nearby hotels, catering halls, and more. For a price of 15 euro, residents can order a basket of produce online containing a large bouquet of mint or sage, a head of lettuce, various young sprouts, two bunches of radishes and one of chard, as well as a jar of jam or puree. Also available are 150 baskets of strawberries, as well as aubergines, tomatoes, and more.

Accompanying the urban farm will be a new rooftop restaurant run by area group “Le Perchoir”.

When the Nature Urbaine is finished, twenty gardeners will tend 30 different kinds of plants and harvest up to 2,200 lbs (1,000 kg) of perhaps 35 different kinds of fruits and vegetables every day.

Pascal Hardy is now planning similar projects in the suburbs of Paris and abroad.

Discover Solution 271: OEOO (One Earth – One Ocean)

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Carbon Capture

269: Metal organic framework (MOF) for carbon capture

Problem:

CO2 must be captured as swiftly and as efficiently as possible.

Solution:

Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are one class of crystalline adsorbent materials that are believed to be of huge potential in CO₂ capture applications because of their advantages such as ultrahigh porosity, boundless chemical tunability, and surface functionality over traditional porous zeolites and activated carbon.


Importantly, MOFs have the largest surface areas of any known material: the size of two American football fields (115.2 ft²/ 5.4 m²)) in a single gram, offering plenty of space for “guest molecules” such as CO2 to get caught in millions of molecular cages. The “ZIF-8” MOF is already being used to capture and store toxic gases, and it is cheap and easy to synthesise.

MOFs are coming of age. Their numbers have been mushrooming at an unprecedented rate since Omar M. Yaghi, a Jordanian-American chemist uncovered their potential nearly 20 years before, and today the structures of over 6000 new MOFs are published each year.

Stuart James, chair of inorganic chemistry at Queen’s University Belfast in the UK and co-founder of MOF Technologies, secured US$ 87,500 to work along 14 partners from 8 countries to develop and demonstrate the performance of MOF.

Christopher Wilmer, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has collaborated with Jan Steckel, research scientist at the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, and Pittsburgh-based AECOM to develop a computational modeling method which may help to fast-track the identification and design of new carbon capture and storage materials such as MOF for use by the nation’s coal-fired power plants.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC Laboratory and Stanford University have taken the first images of CO₂ molecules captured within a MOF. The images, made at the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Facilities, show two configurations of the CO₂ molecule in its cage, in what scientists call a guest-host relationship; reveal that the cage expands slightly as the CO₂ enters; and zoom in on jagged edges where MOF particles may grow by adding more cages.(moftechnlogies.com)

Researchers at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), Kyoto University, Japan, along with colleagues at the University of Tokyo and Jiangsu Normal University in China have created an MOF they call a porous coordination polymer (PCP).

It has an organic component with a propeller-like as molecular structure, and as CO2 molecules approach the structure, they rotate and rearrange to permit CO2 trapping, resulting in slight changes to the molecular channels within the PCP. This allows it to act as molecular sieve that can recognize molecules by size and shape.

The PCP is also recyclable; the efficiency of the catalyst did not decrease even after 10 reaction cycles. After capturing the carbon, the converted material can be used to make polyurethane, a material with a wide variety of applications including clothing, domestic appliances, and packaging.

The researchers tested their material using X-ray structural analysis and found that it can selectively capture only CO2 molecules with ten times more efficiency than other PCPs thus opening up an avenue for future research into carbon capture materials.(icems.kyoto-u.ac.jp)

Bio-mimicking the precise ion selective filtering capabilities of a living cell, researchers at Monash University, CSIRO, the University of Melbourne with The University of Texas at Austin, have developed a synthetic MOF-based ion channel membrane that is precisely tuned, in both size and chemistry, to filter lithium ions in an ultra-fast, one-directional and highly selective manner.

This solution opens up the possibility to create a revolutionary filtering technology that could substantially change the way in which lithium-from-brine extraction is undertaken. Energy Exploration Technologies, Inc. (EnergyX) in Newark, California has executed a worldwide exclusive license to commercialise the technology. (monash.edu and energyx.com)

Simon Weston and a team at ExxonMobil, collaborating with Jeffrey Long, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and of chemical and biomolecular engineering and senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and his group in UC Berkeley’s Center for Gas Separations, have developed a new material that could capture more than 90% of CO2 emitted from industrial sources using low-temperature steam, requiring less energy for the overall carbon capture process.

Laboratory tests indicate the patent-pending materials—tetraamine-functionalized metal organic frameworks—capture carbon dioxide emissions up to six times more effectively than conventional amine-based carbon capture technology. Using less energy to capture and remove carbon, the material has the potential to reduce the cost of the technology and eventually support commercial applications.

This is the result of eight years’ R&D. Tetraamine molecules are added to a magnesium-based MOF to catalyze the formation of polymer chains of CO2 that could then be purged by flushing with a humid stream of carbon dioxide. By manipulating the structure of the metal organic framework material, the team of scientists and students demonstrated the ability to condense a surface area the size of a football field, into just one gram of mass—about the same as a paperclip—that acts as a sponge for CO2.

Additional research and development will be needed to progress this technology to a larger scale pilot and ultimately to industrial scale.

Discover Solution 270: Nature Urbaine

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Planet Care Carbon Capture Mobility

268: Tree-planting drones

Problem:

Every year, 15 billion trees are destroyed from natural and anthropogenic causes. Despite US$ 50 billion a year spent on replanting, there remains an annual net loss of 6 billion trees. Governments have made commitments to restore 860 million ac (350 million ha) of degraded land, equivalent to an area the size of India, which could accommodate around 300 billion trees, by 2030.

Solution:

Tree-planting drones


Startups have created drone-planting systems that achieve an uptake rate of 75 % and decrease planting costs by 85 %. These systems shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil, providing the plant all the nutrients necessary to sustain life. Two companies are using drones to step up the rate of tree-planting: BioCarbon Engineering founded by Lauren Fletcher and DroneSeed, founded by Grant Canary.

During the late 1990s, Lauren E. Fletcher, with a Master’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering was a space systems engineer at NASA Ames Research Center, specialising in bio engineering. In 2007, he was at the International Space University, then from 2008 to 2010 at Stanford University. From 2010 to 2019 Fletcher was a Doctoral student at Oxford University’s department of Physics on ”Project Mars on Earth.”

In 2009 by while Fletcher was at COP15 in Copenhagen, he became concerned about the state of our world: degrading climate, loss of natural environments, significant biodiversity losses, and a potential for global scale human suffering. After years of studying climate change and the environment, Fletcher asked himself how the damage of more than a century of anthropogenic development could be reversed. The answer, in part, is restoring the planet’s decimated forests, to counter industrial scale deforestation using industrial scale reforestation.

In 2013, Fletcher linked up with businessperson Susan Graham with a PhD in healthcare innovation to found the company called BioCarbon Engineering (BCE), based in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, UK, to plant at least 1 billion trees a year with drone swarms. To do this needed a technician.

Enter French drone engineer, Jeremie Leonard. From 2005 to 2007 Leonard studied at the Lycée Marcelin Berthelot, Saint Maur des Fossés, France, then at the Ecole Supérieure d’Electricité, at Gif Sur Yvette, Isle de France.

He then crossed the English Channel to study for his PhD at Cranfield University, between 2011 and 2014, where the aim of his thesis, named “Project Athena”, was to develop a fully autonomous swarm of medium-altitude, long-endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (MALE UAV) with integrated health management.

Leonard’s work encompassed research on mission planning, multi-agent control and swarm energy management. In 2014 Leonard was recruited by Fletcher to BioCarbon Engineering. The “seed-dropping” system developed by BCE uses satellite and drone-collected data to determine the best location to plant each tree.

The planting drones fire a biodegradable seedpod into the ground with pressurized air at each predetermined position at 120 seedpods per minute. They fly at an altitude of 3 to 7 ft. (1 to 2 m.) above the ground. A small pressurized canister provides the necessary propulsive force for the seedpods to easily penetrate the soil’s surface.

The seedpods are filled with a germinated seed, nutritious hydrogel, and other vital components. The pods break open upon impact allowing the germinated seeds to grow. These penetrate the earth, and, activated by moisture, grow into healthy trees.

Two operators equipped with 10 drones can plant 400,000 trees per day. Just 400 teams could plant 10 billion trees each year, with the capability to scale to tens of billions of trees annually. The fully automated and highly scalable BCE solution plants 150 times faster and 4-10 times cheaper than current methods. This technology provides a new tool enabling global enterprises and governments to meet their restoration commitments.

With initial funding in 2016, a patent “for automated planting” was applied for by Fletcher and his team. BCE began its full commercial operations with the first paid project in May 2017 at abandoned mine sites in Dungog in the Hunter Valey, New South Wales Australia that were in need of reforestation. They have executed nine projects in the UK, Australia, Myanmar, New Zealand, South Africa, and Morocco.

Environmentalists in Myanmar used to plant mangroves by hand. Myanmar has lost at least 2.5 million ac (1 million ha) of mangrove forest over the past several decades, making it more vulnerable to cyclones and climate change. Since 2012, Worldview has been able to plant over six million trees, which is a huge achievement already. However, with the help of the BCE drones, they could plant another four million by the end of 2019. Since the drones began their work in September, the saplings have grown to be 20 in (50 cm) tall.

In April 2018, BCE received a funding boost of US$2.5 million. The seed investment comes from SYSTEMIQ, a purpose-driven investment and advisory firm that aims to tackle economic system failures, and Parrot, the leading European drone group. Work in 2018 will expand to projects in the UAE, Canada, USA, Brazil, Peru, and Spain. Customers include private landholders, companies, non-governmental organisations, and governments.

In May 2018, Jeremie Leonard travelled to Canada to work with the Canadian Forest Service for the first-ever Canadian trial of using drones to plant tree seeds in northern Alberta. That year BCE changed its name to (Dendra Dendra is Greek for tree).

Dendra employs a combination of Wingtra and DJI M600 drones for pre-planting surveys as well as a custom Vulcan UAV for the seed spreading however much of the equipment they’re laden with has yet to be made available commercially.  Dendra’s largest mapping drone can carry up to 22 kilograms of equipment and its sensors can resolve images at 2-3cm per pixel.

This enabled Dendra to plant an additional 4 million mangrove seedlings in 2019 alone.

In September 2020, backing by At One Ventures, Airbus Ventures, Future Positive Capital, and Chris Sacca’s LowerCarbon, Dendra raised $10 million to continue its program whereby just 400 teams of two drone operators, with 10 drones per team, could plant 10 billion trees each year, and at a much lower cost than the traditional method of planting by hand. The target is to plant 500 billion trees by 2060, in often hard-to-reach places. (dendra.io)

Dendra are not alone. DroneSeed based in Seattle, Washington also committed to reforestation efforts, has developed a plan for each planting area that maximises successful planting and tree growth. Understanding the environmental conditions of the site is paramount to successfully replanting the area.

Using Lidar, topographical 3D maps are made, photographs are taken with a multispectral camera to collect visual data, much of it outside of the realm of human detection, which can then be used for an analysis of the plants and soil before any planting can take place.

Using this data, actual planting locations are determined so that each seed package has a much greater chance of survival. With the resulting map, the drones fly autonomously, as many as five at a time, and are supported by a team that is ready to load up the drones and there in case of any setbacks. The drones use machine learning models, setting out to find various ‘microsites’ where the seeds will face better chances of survival. The seeds are pre-packaged into small bundles, filled with nutrients, and covered in the chemical capsaicin to keep hungry creatures at bay. It is this extra attention to detail which improves the odds of each tree’s future success.

After planting, the location is monitored and growth is optimized with fertilizer, herbicide and water, all of which are also applied by the drones. In addition to gathering data needed for planting, drones are also collecting data on growth, canopy cover and other factors which allow the creation of 3D models of the actual reforested area.

DroneSeed founder, Grant Canary M.A. of Seattle, Washington is an environmentalist with a love of outdoor sports. He has spent his entire carrier working within for-profit companies to benefit the environment including Vestas Wind Energy and the US Green Building Council.

He raised US$10 million and built a 60,000 ft² factory to pioneer the commercialization of black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) to treat food waste and produce a sustainable supply of nutrients for sustainable salmon feed and agricultural uses.

He also founded BioSystems LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Enterra, based in Portland, Oregon. At a loss for what to do next in his career and was told by a friend that perhaps he should just go and plant trees.

Realising that tree reforestation needed intensifying, Canary founded DroneSeed. He recruited Matthew M. Aghai as his Director of Biological Research;  John Thomson, a drone systems engineer, responsible for specifying, designing, and manufacturing heavy-lift flight systems and supporting hardware to enable company operations; and Robert A Krob, a software engineer.

They were soon joined by Matt Kunimoto, a drone systems technician who had built a hexacopter drone that uses image recognition to guide its flight autonomously in order to follow a custom pattern.

In 2015, DroneSeed first won the Beaverton, Oregon US$ 100,000 Challenge sponsored by the City of Beaverton and Oregon Technology and Business Center. Shortly after, they were one of the nine startups selected for Techstars Seattle 2016 out of over 1,000 applicants to the program.

With funding from Techstars, Social Capital, and Spero Ventures, to the tune of US$4.8 million, DroneSeed received the FAA’s first approval for up to five aircraft to be flown by a single pilot each carrying a 57 lb. (27 kg.) payload. The FAA classifies this exception as “precedent setting”, referring to the exceptional lengths DroneSeed has gone to prove out its ability to scale operations to larger payloads for multiple concurrent flights. At the time, no other drone operator in the USA could legally operate with such heavy lift aircraft.

The firm works for 3 of the 5 largest timber companies and recently signed a contract with The Nature Conservancy to restore post wildfire burn sites to combat the spread of wildfires and keep affected areas healthy. Their first planting project was in October 2018, replanting after the Grave Creek Fire which burned 2,800 ac (7,000 ha) near Medford, Oregon in 2018.

In 2018, the DroneSeed team was granted Patent N° 10,212,876 for “Aerial deployment planting methods and systems for making good use of recently obtained biometric data and for configuring propagule capsules for deployment via an unmanned vehicle so that each has an improved chance of survival.”

In 2019, following a massive wildfire in southwest Oregon DroneSeed were contracted by Northwest. Hancock Forest Management, a large international forest landowner and the Nature Conservancy Oregon to protect the ecosystem across the Pacific Northwest from invasive species. Drone swarms of up to five aircraft will be deployed to restore rangelands by re-seeding threatened areas, especially in sagebrush steppe habitats. Invasive weed species harm the sagebrush steppe, resulting in a huge swathe of plant loss. In fact, only 50 % of such plants still exist, with the remaining 50 % at risk of being lost in just the next 50 years. (droneseed.com)

NOW, founded by Jessica Jones, enables people to subscribe to support drone reforestation. Working with a nonprofit called Eden Reforestation Projects, the NOW will begin by supporting restoration projects in mangrove forests in Mozambique and Madagascar. But the company also began by planting trees itself using drones, beginning on tribal land near San Diego.

In 2020, Rashid Al Ghurair, founder of the Cafu fuel delivery app launched a mission to plant a million drought-tolerant Ghaf evergreen trees (Prosopis cineraria), across the UAE by drone within the next two years. On January 8th 2020, Al Ghurair dropped 4,000 seeds over 10,000 m² in pilot project in Sharjah Dubai If successful the project could be outsourced to wildfire affected regions like Australia and the Amazon. Each Ghaf tree can absorb 34.6 kg of CO² emissions per year.

Ultimately, hand-in-hand with humans, drones could help support much more massive tree planting, which would have a significant impact on climate change: researchers recently calculated that there is enough room to plant another 1.2 trillion trees, which could suck up more carbon each year than humans emit.

Discover Solution 269: Metal organic framework (MOF) for carbon capture

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Materials Energy

267: Zinc Battery

Problem:

Rechargeable batteries have been used to power various electric devices and store energy from renewables, but their toxic components (namely, electrode materials, electrolyte, and separator) generally cause serious environment issues when disused. Such toxicity characteristic makes them difficult to power future wearable electronic devices.

Solution:

Zinc battery.


Zinc-chloride cells (usually marketed as “heavy duty” batteries) use a paste primarily composed of zinc chloride, which gives a longer life and steadier voltage output compared with ammonium chloride electrolyte

An environmentally friendly and highly safe rechargeable battery, based on a pyrene‐4,5,9,10‐tetraone (PTO) cathode and zinc anode in mild aqueous electrolyte has been developed by a team of researchers at Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

Their PTO//Zn full cell exhibits a high energy density (186.7 Wh kg−1), supercapacitor‐like power behaviour and long‐term lifespan (over 1000 cycles). Moreover, a belt‐shaped PTO//Zn battery with robust mechanical durability and remarkable flexibility is first fabricated to clarify its potential application in wearable electronic devices.

In a collaboration between Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, USA and the MEET Battery Research Center of University of Münster and Helmholtz Institute Münster, Germany, 12 scientists have developed a new type of dual-ion battery.

The cell chemistry graphite zinc metal with an aqueous electrolyte is safer, cheaper and more sustainable than proven energy storage systems and showed a promising electrochemical performance.

The cathode of the energy storage device can consist of graphitic carbons, which can be produced from renewable raw materials. In addition, water and biological binders, such as those found in yoghurt, can be used in electrode production. Further, the zinc metal-based anode offers a better material availability

For the charging and discharging mechanism: instead of only one type of ion – lithium ions – the electrolyte anions are also involved in energy storage in the dual-ion battery. The electrolyte thus functions as an active material, which offers researchers further optimisation approaches. It also comes with an inherently lower risk of fire.

Discover Solution 268: Tree-planting drones

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