Categories
Planet Care

95: De-extinction via DNA

Solution:

One of the most powerful tools to fight biological obliteration is CRISPR, (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) involving slicing DNA apart then adding and subtracting genes at will.


In 1987, researchers at Osaka University studying the function of Escherichia coli genes first noticed a set of short, repeated DNA sequences, but they did not understand the significance.

Six years later, another microbiologist, Francisco Mojica at the University of Alicante in Spain, noted the sequences in a different single-celled organism, Haloferax mediterranei. The sequences kept appearing in other microbes and in 2002, the unusual DNA structures were given a name: CRISPR.

In 2012, Jennifer Doudna, from UC Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, at Umea University, Sweden, showed CRISPR could be hijacked and modified. Essentially, they had turned CRISPR from a bacterial defence mechanism into a DNA-seeking missile strapped to a pair of molecular scissors. For this they were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Their modified CRISPR system worked extremely well, finding and cutting any gene they chose. The floodgates opened, and CRISPR research, which had long been the domain of molecular microbiologists, skyrocketed. The number of articles referencing CRISPR in preeminent research journal Nature has increased by over 6,000 % between 2012 and 2018.

One scientist who is using CRISPR for a particular de-extinction is Ben Novak, a lead scientist with conservation non-profit Revive & Restore in Sausalito, California. Novak is working to bring back the passenger pigeon, once North America’s most abundant bird. The last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, rendering the species extinct.

Novak spends most of his time in a facility southwest of Melbourne, Australia, working with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) breeding band-taileds. To completely resurrect the passenger pigeon, Novak and his team are working to create a hybrid pigeon with parts of the CRISPR system embedded within its genes. The hybrids will be bred for several generations until the offspring DNA matches that of the extinct species. The first generation of ‘revived’ pigeons is expected to hatch in 2022.

In 2019, scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk and the South Korean Sooam Biotech Research Foundation have succeed in extracting liquid blood from heart vessels of a 42,000-year-old Lenskaya breed foal excavated in the Batagai depression. The autopsy showed beautifully preserved internal organs. Scientists already indicated that they were confident of success in extracting cells from this foal to de-extinct its species.

Elsewhere, in a study published in Scientific Reports, a team of scientists from Japan and Russia at Kindai University, in central Japan announced that they have managed to recover cells from the left hind leg of a 28,000-year-old juvenile mammoth that was discovered in the Siberian permafrost in 2011. Cell nuclei from the mammoth were successfully implanted in mouse cells were able to react and that there is biological activity.

In 2019, David Liu, a chemist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts invented “prime editing” which further improves on the CRISP-Cas-9 solution by offering more targeting flexibility and greater editing precision.

Although CRISPR should prove useful in de-extincting ancient species, perhaps more importantly in its ability to help living species that are in danger of becoming extinct, it is certainly a Planet-protecting solution.

This of course includes plants.

American chestnut trees dominated the East Coast of the U.S. until 1876, when a fungus carried on imported chestnut seeds devastated them, leaving less than 1 % by 1950. To make blight-resistant trees, scientists have inserted a wheat gene into chestnut embryos, enabling them to make an enzyme that detoxifies the fungus. This chestnut tree is likely to become the first genetically modified organism to be released into the wild once it is approved by the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Genomic research on crops, for example, has already yielded plants that grow faster, produce more food, and are more resistant to pests or severe weather. Researchers may find new medicines or discover better ways to engineer organisms for use in manufacturing or energy.

What you can do: Help those organisations such as WWFN and IUCN to save threatened species.

Tomorrow’s solution: picnics delivered to your home

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Categories
Planet Care

94: De-extinction

Problem:

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, there are now 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List, and 16,306 of them are endangered species threatened with extinction.

An estimated 50,000-70,000 plant species are used in traditional and modern medicine worldwide.

About 110 million tons (100 tonnes) tons of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs and crustaceans are taken from the wild every year and represent a vital contribution to world food security.

It is called the Sixth Extinction.

Solution:

De-extinction aka resurrection biology


A paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reported the Earth BioGenome project where the DNA of all known eukaryotic life on Earth is being recorded. It is estimated to take 10 years, cost US$4.7 billion, and require more than 200 petabytes of digital storage space (a petabyte is one quadrillion, or 1015 bytes).

“Eukaryotes” refers to all plants, animals, and single-celled organisms, all living things except bacteria and archaea (those will be taken care of by the Earth Microbiome Project). It is estimated there are somewhere between 10–15 million eukaryotic species, from a rhinoceros to a chinchilla down to a flea (and there are far smaller still).

Of the 2.3 million of these documented so far, scientists have sequenced fewer than 15,000 of their genomes (most of which have been microbes). One of the biggest questions is how, exactly, scientists will go about the gargantuan task of collecting intact DNA samples from every known species on Earth. Some museum specimens will be used, but many have not been preserved in such a way that the DNA could produce a high-quality genome. One important source of samples will be the Global Genome Biodiversity Network.

There is significant controversy over de-extinction or resurrection biology, or species revivalism. Critics assert that efforts would be better spent conserving existing species, that the habitat necessary for formerly extinct species to survive is too limited to warrant de-extinction, and that the evolutionary conservation benefits of these operations are questionable.

In 2017, a report published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, found that de-extinction of extinct animals for the species in New Zealand and New South Wales, Australia would be harmful to biodiversity. The lead author of research is the professor of biology at the Carleton University, Canada, Joseph R. Bennett, who used the extant analog to predict the result of the de-extinction of extinct animals with his six colleagues from Australia and New Zealand.

Indeed Michael Crichton’s best-selling dystopian novel “Jurassic Park” (1990) and Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film of the same name (grossing USUS$1 billion) have led people to believe that cloning dinosaurs back to life could only go terribly wrong. But there are an increasing number of cases where species might be “brought back to life”.

Cloning involves extracting the nucleus from a preserved cell from the extinct species and swapping it into an egg of the nearest living relative. This egg can then be inserted into a relative host. It is important to note that this method can only be used when a preserved cell is available. This means that it is most feasible for recently extinct species.

For example, the banteng is an endangered species that was successfully cloned, and the first to survive for more than a week (the first was a gaur that died two days after being born). Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts, United States extracted DNA from banteng cells kept in the San Diego Zoo’s “Frozen Zoo” facility, and transferred it into eggs from domestic cattle, a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer.

In The Embryo Project, Thirty hybrid embryos were created and sent to Trans Ova Genetics, which implanted the fertilized eggs in domestic cattle. Two were carried to term and delivered by Caesarian section. The first hybrid was born on April 1, 2003, and the second two days later. The second was euthanized, but the first survived and, as of September 2006, remained in good health at the San Diego Zoo.

What you can do: Donate to organisations working to prevent the extinction of threatened species.

Discover Solution 95: CRISPR via DNA

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Categories
Energy

93: Cryogenic energy storage (CES)

Problem:

What to do with excess energy from thermal generation plants, steel mills and LNG terminals.

Solution:

A CRYOBattery


Cryogenic energy storage makes use of excess energy, such as that generated by renewable sources, which cannot be sent immediately to the grid to liquefy air and store the liquid until the electricity is needed and can be distributed. At this point, the liquid air is allowed to evaporate and expand through a turbine, where its latent energy of vaporisation is converted into electric current.

Connecting to thermal generation plants, steel mills and LNG terminals can further boost the system’s efficiency and diversify its offering.

In 2011, a 300 kW, 2.5 MWh storage capacity pilot cryogenic energy system was developed by researchers at the University of Leeds and Highview Power that used liquid air (with the CO2 and water removed as they would turn solid at the storage temperature) as the energy store, and low-grade waste heat to boost the thermal re-expansion of the air.

In April 2014 the UK government announced it had given £8 million to Viridor and Highview Power to fund the next stage of the demonstration. The resulting grid-scale demonstrator plant at Pilsworth Landfill facility in Bury, Greater Manchester, UK, started operation in April 2018.

This was based on research by the Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage (BCCES) associated with the University of Birmingham, and had storage for up to 15 MWh, with a peak supply of 5 MW (so when fully charged lasts for three hours at maximum output) and is designed for an operational life of 40 years.

With Highview Power’s Potentially CRYOBattery is able to deliver anywhere from 20 MW/80 MWh to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh of energy to power up to 200,000 homes for a whole day.

In June 2020, Highview, teamed up with Carlton Power and announced construction of the world’s biggest liquid air battery with a capacity of 50 MW/250 MWh at a the Trafford Energy Park, a decommissioned thermal power station site in the North of England. With the first system scheduled to go into operation by 2022, another four will be set up in the UK, able to deliver a total of over 1GWh.

Discover Solution 94: Bringing extinct animals back to life.

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Categories
Human Effort

92 :Crowdfunding

Problem:

Solutions created by start-ups need funding to kick-start them.

Solution:

Online Crowdfunding


Created by entrepreneur Michael Sullivan in 2006, crowdfunding is one of the fastest growing sources of funds for any new venture. It is a method of funding a venture or project through the collective efforts of family, friends, customers and individual investors. There are many crowdfunding platforms or websites that investors can use. Crowdfunding is a particularly well-suited idea for any green business.

In 2008, Danae Ringelmann, Slava Rubin, and Eric Schell of San Francisco, California launched an “all or nothing” crowdfunding website they called “Indiegogo.” Powered by curiosity, the Indiegogo community has helped bring more than 800,000 innovative ideas to life since 2008.

Today, Indiegogo’s group of backers is more than 9 million strong, representing 235 countries and territories. While it covers every industry, it has a section called Environment. With the right idea, entrepreneurs have reason to be optimistic.

Among successful Indiegogo campaigns for green businesses: Crowdcube electric carpooling club; Powervault for its its domestic electricity storage device project, Sondors Electric Bike and more.

What you can do: If you are planning to create an eco-friendly start-up, use firms such as Indiegogo.

Discover Solution 93: the Cryobattery, so cool!

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Categories
Materials Carbon Capture Your Home

91: Cross-laminated timber

Problem:

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

Solution:

Cross-laminated timber.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discover Solution 92: Crowdfunding for Planet care

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Categories
Materials Planet Care

90: Crop fertilizer from recycled batteries

Problem:

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

Solution:

Recycling battery elements as crop fertilizer.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discover Solution 90: cross-laminated timber

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Categories
Carbon Capture Your Home

89 :Credit card as personal CO2 calculator

Problem:

There were a total of 1.06 billion credit cards in 2017 and the projection for 2022 is close to 1.2 billion. Cards are made of several layers of plastic laminated together. The core is commonly made from a plastic resin known as polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA). This resin is mixed with opacifying materials, dyes, and plasticizers to give it the proper appearance and consistency. This bodes badly for landfills.

Solution:

A personal CO2 calculator.


In 2008, Discover launched a “green” credit card made of biodegradable PVC, 99 % of which can be absorbed back into the environment given the right conditions. Discover contended that, with exposure to soil, water, compost, and other microorganisms, the card will degrade completely within nine months to 5 years.

But can a biodegradable card do more than facilitate purchases? Having worked for nearly ten years in Sweden’s banking and insurance section, when Nathalie Green was faced with the inertia of large institutions to respond to the climate change emergency, she decided to leave her post and dedicate all her energy to the creation of products to accelerate the ecological transition.

Founding a company called Doconomy, Nathalie conceived “Do”, a mobile application that measures CO2 emissions from our purchases. From there on, Doconomy has progressed to the Do-Card, incorporating technology from the Ålands Bank Index, a Finnish financial tool that uses big data to match every purchase with the most accurate estimation of CO2 emissions related to its production and consumption.

Specifically, each time the card is used, its owner receives an alert that indicates the carbon footprint of the purchase. For example, at a checkout, he will know that the purchase of jeans is 70 lb (32 kg) of CO2. Those who sign up to DO will receive access to a free savings account that helps them understand their carbon footprint, learn about UN-certified climate compensation projects, and discover investment funds that have a positive impact on people and the planet.

The card itself is made of bio-sourced material and is printed with Air-Ink, which was our Solution #6  and with no magnetic strip is the first of its kind in the world. For this solution, Doconomy is working with Mastercard via their global network, reaching and levering the power of consumers all over the world and direct capital towards sustainable initiatives. In October 2020 when Mastercard launched the expansion of the Priceless Planet Coalition to support planting 100 million trees, Doconomy was one of the 33 banking partners.

What you can do: Buy and use a Do-Card and tell your friends about it.

Discover  Solution 90: crop fertilizer from recycled batteries

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Planet Care

88 : Coronal mass ejections (CME), early warning system

Problem:

Serious coronal mass ejections could cause global chaos disrupting electronic systems including satellites, navigation systems, GPS systems, communication systems, aircraft, power grids, radios, televisions and more. For perspective, the fastest ejections would take just 15 to 18 hours to hit Earth.

Solution:

An early-warning system.


NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the U.K. Space Agency (UKSA) have teamed up to develop a forecast system designed to provide an extra day for shutting down vital electronic systems.  The project, which also involves the European Space Agency and the U.S.’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aims to develop a plasma analyzer.

The creation of the instrument will be spearheaded by the Mullard Space Science Laboratory of University College London. Their research demonstrates how the new warning system can both measure and model coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and how this can help predict how CMEs will affect the Earth. The new detection system would use cameras on satellites in multiple locations to estimate where the approaching solar storm is located and in what direction it is travelling.

This data is then combined with coronographs from the sun itself, provided by the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), which show how the CME moves towards Earth. The scientists have already successfully tested a model of the system on eight mass ejections and NASA plans to continue testing. The research group’s next step is to create an interface that makes the warning system easy to use. NASA hopes the system will be able to assist in monitoring space weather in the future. (nasa.gov)

In the next 5 years NOAA and ESA with support from the UK are planning to launch two complementary solar monitoring satellites. On March 30, 2020, NASA decided to fund the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE) mission for its heliophysics program, developed by a team lead by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan.

Launched by July 2023, six cubesats In July 2023, SunRISE will get to orbit flying on a commercial satellite built by Maxar. A system called the Payload Orbital Delivery System, attached to the satellite, will release six SunRISE cubesats once in orbit. They will fly in a formation about (10 km) across, so forming a virtual radio telescope to detect and pinpoint emissions from the sun associated with solar storms.

The UK’s ‘plasma analyser’ will fly on ESA’s Lagrangian 5 space weather monitoring mission to observe solar wind. L5 is about one astronomical unit from Earth (the distance of the sun, or 93 million mi (150 million km), but off to the side of the Planet. The UK Space Agency is working cooperatively with ESA and the United States’ NOAA on their complementary Lagrangian 1 space weather monitoring spacecraft. RAL Space in the UK is also working on optical instruments for space weather missions under the current ESA programme.

What you can do: If you receive a CME alert from your social network or news media, immediately share it and be prepared to switch off all electronic devices.

Discover Solution 89: carbon footprint credit card

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Categories
Materials

87: Cork e-friendly building material

Problem:

Solution:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Discover  Solution 88: being warned about solar flares

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Planet Care Human Effort

86: Coral Regrowth

Problem:

Coral care has to take place locally.

Solution:

We wrote about some solutions for ccoral reefs in Solution #84 Here are some more.


Coral Vita, a coral reef restoration company set up 2015 in Washington, DC by Yale University grads Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern.

Using a process called micro-fragmentation pioneered by the Mote Marine Laboratory, Coral Vita uses a terrestrial farm in Palmas, USA, to grow coral. The system accelerates coral growth up to 50 times the natural rate or from decades to 6-18 months.

This is perfect for many coral species such as Brain or Great Star that serve as critical building blocks for reefs, but grow too slowly to be feasible for restoration projects using ocean-based nurseries. Coral Vita can grow these corals in months rather than decades.

In 2019, Coral Vita created the world’s coral regrowth farm in Grand Bahama, including electrical installation, plumbing and aquaculture tanks. The farm aims to restore the island’s corals reefs, featured in the Netflix film “Chasing Coral,” and provide restoration projects with hardier corals by working together with scientists, communities, coral farmers, businesses, investors and governments.

Although the initial plan is to grow about 10,000 corals per year and serve as an education and visitation center, the long-term goal is to be growing millions of corals every year, restoring reefs worldwide. (coralvita.com)

Tamil
From 2017, a team led by H. Malleshappa, head of the Tamil Nadu State Climate Change Cell have deployed a semi-circle of concrete artificial coral reef modules 820 ft (250 m) from the vulnerable Vaan Island in the Gulf of Munnar.

Each module is 8 ft (2.5 m) in width, 6.6 ft (2 m) in height and 3ft (1 m) in longitudinal length, and weighs 2 tons (1.8 tonnes) In the first two phases, 4,600 modules have been deployed in eight months. Following signs of regenerat, with the funding from Adaptation Fund, the total number of artificial reefs is being increased to 10,000 in two layers.

Florida
In 2019, scientists working on Project Coral at The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation in Apollo Beach in Tampa have spawned an Atlantic pillar coral in a lab setting. www.flaquarium.org

This is a world-first coral reef restoration and research advancement in which Atlantic coral, living for several years at the Center as part of a genetic archive, has been reproduced through induced spawning, setting a new stage for saving coral reefs in Florida and the Caribbean. Project Coral works in partnership with London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens to create coral spawn, or large egg deposits, in a lab.

London, UK
Jamie Craggs, aquarist at the Horniman Aquarium started Project Coral and in 2013 became the first organization globally to develop protocols that replicate natural reef conditions, and the triggers for mass spawning events, in the lab, to predict and induce land-based spawning in a fully closed aquarium lab setting in order to investigate, counter and repair the impact of climate change on coral reef health and reproduction.

The team started working on the research in 2014 with the Staghorn coral, but then the focus shifted to pillar coral because of a disease that has been devastating to the Florida Reef Tract. Pillar coral are now classified as almost extinct since the remaining male and female clusters are too far apart to reproduce. This conservation effort enables coral sexual reproduction to occur entirely outside of the ocean using innovative technology. It also opens up the potential for coral de-extinction.

Southampton
Researchers led by Prof Jörg Wiedenmann at The Coral Reef Laboratory of the University of Southhampton, England have discovered that in warming oceans when some corals, instead of bleaching white, suddenly display fluorescent coloring they are fighting to survive.(Southampton.ac.uk)

Korea

POSCO (Pohang Steel Company) in conjunction with the Research Institute of Science and Technology (RIST) and the Korean government have developed Triton, an artificial reef produced by steel slag, to create a healthy environment for marine life.

POSCO has supplied 1,418 units of Triton for marine forest projects such as artificial fish reefs executed by the government and municipalities. Triton is naturally made with high %ages of iron and calcium, which work to create the ideal conditions for seaweed and algae spore growth, and purifies contaminated sediment. These reefs can also help reef populations migrate to cooler waters. (poscoenc.com)

Mumbai
Siddharth Pillai, a teenage Class XI student from BD Somani School, Mumbai, India has found a way to make modular artificial reefs using 3D printing. He has named them after the late Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington.

In early 2019, several porous Linkin Park blocks, a combination of dolomite and cement in a 10-90 per cent ratio, weighing 24 lb (11 kg) each, were dropped near Puducherry in the Laccadive Sea. This design is replicable as well as stackable, enabling reefs as high as 3ft (1 m) and as wide as 66 ft (20 m) on the ocean bed. (bdsomaniinternationalschool.com)

France
Another solution has been developed during 2019 by David Branthôme, director of the Limousin Aquarium, and the I.Ceram company in Limoges, France: coral cuttings are installed on a piece of alumina (a special ceramic). Since ceramic is neutral, it does not have the disadvantages of plastic or concrete supports. (aquariumdulimousion.com)

Hong Kong
Architects and scientists at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) have developed a novel method of repairing a coral reef in the nearby Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park – they have designed and 3D-printed 128 hexagonal clay tiles whose complex structures encourages coral attachment.

Israel
Maoz Fine and a team at Bar-Ilan University, together with the coral research lab at the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences on the Gulf of Aqaba in Eilat, Israel Israel having analysed why Red Sea corals are more resilient are investigating how their lessons could be used to influence coral reef health and resilience in the central Pacific Islands. (life-sciences.biu.ac.il)

Australia
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation and its partners – including Southern Cross University – have also successfully pioneered a technique dubbed ‘coral IVF’ or larval reseeding. It is the first project of its kind to re-establish a population of juvenile corals from larvae settling directly on the reef in the hope the coral withstands the increasing threats to the reef. www.scu.edu.au

The team collects spawn from heat-tolerant corals that have survived bleaching, and rear millions of baby corals in specially designed tanks and coral nursery pools on the reef before delivering them onto target areas of damaged reefs to restore and repopulate them.

Divers use fine mesh nets to capture the microscopic eggs and sperm that float to the surface.The spawn is then placed in floating enclosures, designed by Professor Peter Harrison where they grow for up to a week before reseeding the baby corals (larvae) onto damaged reefs.

In another world first, robots are giving nature a helping hand by playing ‘stork” and delivering coral babies onto damaged reefs as part of the coral IVF technique. Known as LarvalBots, they are loaded with the coral larvae and cruise a LarvalBot trial just above the reef, spitting out the baby coral directly onto the targeted areas. a trial this year re-seeded an area of 3-hectares in just six hours.

What you can do: Adopt a coral at Coral Reef, join a coral conservation group or make a donation to their growing numbers.

Discover Solution 87: for bottles and buildings: cork

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Human Effort Materials

85: Eco-friendly Christmas trees

Problem:

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

Solution:

Real trees


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Frugal Christmas can also be a Happy one!

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

Discover Solution 86: Regrowing coral reefs

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Human Effort Planet Care

84: Cooling Coral

Problem:

Bleached coral reefs are dying around the world due to ocean anthropogenic global warming.

Solution:

Bring down the temperatures of the waters around the reefs by bringing up cooler water from deeper in the ocean. The problem is finding a long enough pipe.


Mo Ehsani, the Centennial Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona has developed innovative solutions for infrastructure renewal and repair for over 30 years.

Having pioneered the field of repair and strengthening of structures using fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) products Ehsani left the full time academic world in 2010 to devote his time to the management of QuakeWrap, Inc., a company he founded in 1994.

His products have been used in the construction industry to repair high pressure pipelines, freeway underpasses, marine piles, historical structures and more.

One of these products, called StifPipe®, received the 2016 ASCE Innovation Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers as the world’s first green and sustainable pipe.

His game-changing technology for onsite-manufactured continuous pipe, called InfinitPipe, plays a significant part in the proposed coral reef bleaching answer through piping that is long enough to continually feed cooler water from nearby greater depths to the heat-stressed coral in the shallows.

The Seychelles is a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.​ In 2010 Nirmal Shah and a team of Reef Rescuers of  the Nature Seychelles set about restoring the coral bleaching within Cousin Island Special Reserve.

Utilising the ‘coral gardening’ concept, fragments of healthy coral were collected, raised in underwater nurseries and then transplanted onto a degraded reef. In eight years, 50,000 corals have been raised in underwater nurseries, of which over 24,000 were successfully transplanted, covering the area of a football field 5,600 ft² (5,225 m2).

Based on this experience, in December 2019, Nature Seychelles presented their toolkit to provide guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project at the Reef Futures Symposium held in Key Largo, Florida. Six participating countries in the India Ocean, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius and Rodrigues have benefitted from the solution.

What you can do: Make a donation to Nature Seychelles.

Tomorrow’s solution : Green Christmas trees, in more way than one

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Human Effort Planet Care Your Home

83: Biodegradable contraceptives

Problem:

Today’s world population is 7.6 billion, and the United Nations projects that by 2100, the world population will be 11.2 billion. Can the Earth’s resources feed this many people?

Solution:

Contraceptives.


Alongside ethical family planning, sterilisation and vasectomy, the contraceptive should be regarded as a planet-protecting measure. One solution is the condom, a sheath-shaped barrier device, used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.

Early contraceptives were biodegradable. The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (1500 BC) describes a vaginal plug of lint, ground acacia branches and honey. Condoms, made of silk, were not always effective.

The ancient condom was found in Lund, Sweden, and is believed to have been made and used around 1640 A.D. It is made from pig intestine, although before latex, condoms made of sheepskin or intestine were not uncommon. Condoms made of dried sheep intestines were used by Roman soldiers to protect themselves during long campaigns away from home.

Neither rubber condoms which became available in 1855, nor latex condoms since the 1920s are biodegradable. About six to nine billion are sold a year. New innovations continued to occur in the condom market, with the first polyurethane condom, branded Avanti and produced by the manufacturer of Durex, introduced in the 1990s.

With the advent of AIDS (Acquired Immune Defiency Syndrome), the protective condom as mass-produced by Durex became even more popular. Worldwide condom use is expected to continue to grow: one study predicted that developing nations would need 18.6 billion condoms by 2015.

Biodegradable, latex condoms damage the environment when disposed of improperly and they also contain preservatives and hardening agents to make sure the rubber can withstand a fair amount of friction, making it harder for the condoms to break down in the landfill.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, condoms, along with certain other types of trash, cover the coral reefs and smother sea grass and other bottom dwellers. The United States Environmental Protection Agency also has expressed concerns that many animals might mistake the litter for food.

The only biodegradable condom is made of a biological material, lambskin, made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb as used by the Romans, hence non-Vegan.

One such is the “Trojan”, a brand name of condoms and sexual lubricants manufactured by the Church & Dwight Company of Ewing Township, New Jersey. Although biodegradable it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. (churchdwight.com)

There are other methods. In 1951, the oral contraceptive pill was invented by Gregory G. Pincus and Min Chuch Chang, biologists at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Research, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, in collaboration with Dr John Rock, obstetrician-gynaecologist of the Brookline Reproductive Clinic, Boston and again in collaboration with Dr Carl Djerassi of the Syntax Corporation, Mexico, who discovered the progestogenic agent, 19-Norsteroids. The US Food and Drug Administration approved “the pill” for public use in 1961, after extensive trials in Puerto Rico and Haiti.

The downside are the hormones in the pill, either progestin or a combination of progestin and synthetic estrogen, known as endocrine disruptors: women who take the pill end up passing some of them through their urine.

If they make it through the wastewater systems, the hormones can flush into rivers and streams altering fish reproductive systems and damaging ecosystem dynamics. The minipill is only made with progestin, a man-made form of the hormone progesterone made by the body.

Then there is the intrauterine device (IUD). During the late 1950s these were made of plastic with a nylon string. U.S. physician Howard Tatum’s innovation of the copper IUD in the 1960s brought with it the capital ‘T’ shaped design used by most modern IUDs. Together, Tatum and Chilean physician Jaime Zipper discovered that copper could be an effective spermicide and developed the first copper IUD, TCu200.

Not only does this contraceptive have incredible 99-plus % effectiveness, but it also requires just one small plastic T—either wrapped in copper or holding synthetic progesterone hormone—to prevent pregnancies for 3 to 12 years.

Physical waste is nearly nonexistent. Copper IUDs use up less than one tenth of an ounce (0.3 gm) of copper. Hormonal IUDs release small quantities of synthetic progesterone directly into the uterus, meaning that most of the hormone stays exactly where it is needed. In short, for the Planet, IUDs are the lesser of the three evils.

What you can do: When family planning, think carefully of your SOLUTION for our crowding Planet.

Tomorrow’s Solution: cooling down the coral reefs

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Mobility

82: Container ship management system

Problem:

100 million of these shipping containers go 25 to 40% empty from one port to the other. The emissions from the diesel fuel during these trips are wasted emissions.

Solution:

Make it easier for shipping companies to find full containers.


In 2016, Sheikh Ahsan Tariq, Hood Al Hoqani, Hamza Al Kharusi, and Wajiha Khalid Paracha of Muscat, the capital and largest city of Oman, founded Cubex Global, created a online digital marketplace, built on a secure blocktrain, for sea freight where ocean freight forwarders can buy, sell and bid on empty container space in real-time, thus enabling them to recover as much as $25 Billion in lost revenues on an annual basis on top of sustainably decarbonising as much as 20% on emissions.

Very soon, Cubex Global had 2,000 active shippers and carriers on its platform with its services being used in the Arab Emirates, Asia Pacific, and some parts of Europe.

With further funds raised by Oman Technology Fund as part of its Wadi Accelerator, Cubex has been able to expand across six continents by opening new branch offices in China, Singapore, and Taiwan.

The Omani startup had recently also won Ocean Challenge by World Economics Forum where it competed with 50 startups from the world.

What you can do: If your company is freighting goods in container ships, think of using the Cubex system.

Discover Solution 83: Biodegradable contraceptives

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Mobility

81: Autonomous electric container barge

Problem:

There are many thousands of diesel-engined container ships and barges plying the canals and rivers of Europe. Diesel combustion exhaust is an indirect cause of human cancer, heart and lung damage, and mental functioning.

Solution:

A Zero-emission autonomous container barge.

Ton van Meegen, inland waterways entrepreneur in the Nijmegen Area, Netherlands has started up Port-Liner to develop a fleet of fully-electric crewless container barges to transport freight initially from the ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam.

Called “Tesla ships”, One Kempenaar-sized vessel called the Tempsnip is 170 ft (52 m ) long and 19ft ( 6.7m) wide, and able to carry twenty-four 20ft (6 m) containers weighing up to 468 tons (425 tonnes).

Its electric motors will be driven by 20-ft (6 m) Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB), giving it 15 hours of power, charged on shore by the carbon-free energy provider Eneco. Although designed to operate without any crew, EC52 will be manned initially.

Adjustable wheelhouses enable them to go under 5m60 (16 ft) bridges, while by flooding its ballast tanks, it can further reduce its height.

The EC 110 version has a length of 328 ft (100 m) and a width of 38 ft (11m45), to load 14 containers of 20 ft (6 m). or 7 containers of 40 ft.(12 m) or any combination of the two sizes.with four E-Powerboxes would have an action radius of about 30 hours (143 mi or 230km).

This allows the vessel to easily cover the Rotterdam/Antwerp/Duisburg corridors, at competitive cost compared to conventional diesel propulsion. The ship can be customized (dimensions, cargo type ) up to 7700 tons (7,000 tonnes) .

Port-Liner submitted a project under which it will build five hybrid barges that will ply between De Kempen intermodal terminal in the Netherlands and Antwerp. Thanks to these hybrid barges there will be 23,000 fewer diesel trucks on the roads annually and a reduction of about 18,000 tonnes per year of CO₂.

According to a report from transportation news site “Elektrek », the 100 million-euro (US$122 million) project has been supported by a €7 million (US$8.6 million) subsidy from the European Union, with Loadstar also having reported that the Port of Antwerp had added a €200,000 (US$245,000) subsidy as part of a wider initiative to improve its port’s efficiency. Port-Liner can build 500 of these ships per year.

The battery pack could also be used to retro-fit existing river barges. During summer 2020, the 443 ft (135 m) Portliner Anna went on trials from Werkendam, southern Netherlands.

What you can do: If your company is freighting goods, think of using the rivers instead of the roads.

Discover Solution 82: No more half-empty containers

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Materials

80: Bio-bricks made without kilns

Problem:

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

Solution:

Carbon-dioxide-free bricks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

India

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

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

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

Discover Solution 81: zero-emission pilotless shipping

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Materials

79: Carbon negative concrete

Problem:

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

Solution:

Carbon dioxide-free concrete.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discover Solution 80: Bricks without firing.

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

78: Human-based compost

Problem:

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

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

Solution:

Naturally composting human cadavers


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Netherlands

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

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

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

Discover Solution 79: eco-friendly concrete.

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Materials

77: Bacterial colour pigmentation

Problem:

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

Solution:

Microbe-based textile dyes.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Discover Solution 78: human-based compost

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Human Effort Materials Planet Care

76: The cocoon that protects young trees

Problem:

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

Solution:

A biodegradable cardboard donut to protect tree seedlings.


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

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

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

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

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

Discover Solution 77: scarves dyed with bacteria

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Energy Planet Care

75: Cloud-seeding rain-making chain

Problem:

China has to feed nearly 1.4 billion people, despite 40 % of its arable land suffering from degradation.

Solution:

Cloud-seeding rain-making chain of chambers.


The largest-ever weather modification program worldwide is named Tianhe and located across the Tibetan Plateau in China.

The name Tianhe originates from the ancient Chinese name for the Milky Way, which was the sky river that separated Niulang and Zhinyu in the folk tale “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”.

The project, developed by researchers in 2016 at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, is covering an area larger than Alaska and three times the size of Spain with tens of thousands of fuel-burning chambers for cloud seeding to channel large amounts of additional artificial rainfall into China’s arid northern regions.

In 2018, the installation of hundreds of burning chambers on alpine slopes in Tibet, Xinjiang and neighbouring areas started, with a deadline of 2022.

Throughout the past months the program has been increasingly questioned and criticized, internationally and nationally: the Tibetan plateau feeds most of Asia’s major rivers, including Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and Brahmaputra.

These streams serve as lifelines for a considerable proportion of the world population. The local and transnational implications of the Tianhe project, not only in terms of water supply, are as yet unknown.

Discover Solution 76: planting trees in arid land

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Materials Your Home

74: Clothing from recycled plastic bottles

Problem:

The world is awash in discarded plastic bottles.

Solution:

Recycle plastic bottles into fabric thread for clothing.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

France

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

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

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

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

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

USA

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

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

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

Discover Solution 75: rain-making across China

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Your Home Energy

73: Detergent-free clothes-washing machine

Problem:

Water is an increasingly precious commodity and many washing machines still require large amounts for washing/rinsing as well as  the use of chemicals harmful to the environment.

Solution:

Detergent-free clothes-washing machine.


In 1924, when firms such as the Savage Arms Corporation of New York presented the electrically-powered wash/spin-dry clothes washing machine to the world, neither its energy and water consumption, nor the harmful effects of chemical detergents on the ecosystem, were taken into account. Today, the eco-efficient bio washing machine has become of primary importance.

There have been many developments. Japan Ace, based on research at Nihon University produced a detergentless, ultrasonic bubble-cleansing domestic washing machine in 1985, but the main breakthrough was made by Stephen Burkinshaw at the University of Leeds focusing on the structure of nylon polymer beads.

He discovered that nylon was the best material for absorbing tiny particles, and together with his team of researchers came up with the concept of using nylon polymer beads to remove stains from clothes.

When the wash cycle is completed, the beads automatically return to a holding area inside the machine and are ready to be used again for the next wash. These beads can be used for up to a thousand washes and are then collected to be recycled and exchanged for new one.

From 2009, Burkinshaw and his team collaborated with Stephen Jenkins and William Westwater at Xeros Technologies in Catcliffe, South Yorkshire, England to commercially produce the beads which they called XOrb and a 55 lb (25 kg) capacity waterless washing machine by the end of 2011.

According to Xeros, its technology uses 90% less water than the conventional washing machine. While a conventional front-loading washer uses about 20-25 gallons (75-95 liters) of water, the Xeros Washing Machine is estimated to use as little as one gallon of water.

The machine is also projected to save consumers up to 30% for operating costs in electricity and water. Xeros then presented their XDrum technology to other washing machine manufacturers. Hotel groups such Hilton, Hyatt, or Hampton Inn acquired Xeros to wash their laundry.

In March 2018, Xeros acquired Gloves Inc., providing personal protection equipment cleaning, inspection and repair services in the Miami metro areas.

At CES 2018, Xeros unveiled XFiltra to go with XOrb and XDrum technologies XFiltra is designed to help capture the synthetic fibers from fleece and other clothing that are making their way from the wash into oceans. Appliance makers would still have to design around the pump and filter.

The biggest commercial washing manufacturers in China and India both signed up, while Dongguan Crystal Knitting and Garment, a subsidiary of Crystal International Group, the world’s largest apparel maker by volume, are trialling the technology.

In 2019 Xeros signed up with Indian home appliance manufacturer IFB Industries Ltd. in Kolkata to make and sell X technology in India by from 2020-2021. Xeros, a platform technology company that works on reinventing water intensive industrial and commercial processes, believes the reason the Indian market is important for its water-saving technology is that the country is under extreme water stress.

According to the NITI Aayog, more than 600 million Indians face acute water shortages. The Xeros tech can also save water in the tanning industry and, having entered the market itself, Xeros signed a deal which will see at least one Mexican producer convert its re-tanning operations.

What you can do: When you replace your washing machine, check out the Xeros range.

Discover Solution 74: clothing from recycled plastic bottles

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Materials

72: Closed-loop circular sandblaster

Problem:

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

Solution:

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

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

Discover solution 73: detergent-free washing machines

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Planet Care Human Effort Your Home

71: Citizen Convention for Climate (CCC)

Problem:

How to get politicians to take action on climate change?

Solution:

Citizen Conventions


In November, 150 French citizens, male and female, were drawn by lot and given eight months to discuss and form their solutions for the Planet.

On Sunday June 21, 2020, La Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (CCC) presented French President Emmanuel Macron with nearly one hundred proposals around five axes relating to the fight against global warming: produce and work, shelter, feed, move, consume.

Objective: a reduction of “at least 40% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030”. These include making energy renovation of 20 million buildings compulsory by 2040, quadrupling the amount of the bicycle fund to 200 million Euros per year, which would finance bicycle paths, increasing the bonus for hybrid and electric cars by 25%, the deployment of short food circuits, and the curbing of overconsumption.

In response, the President pledged an additional €15 billion ($16.9 billion) to help address the issue, although not all the solutions have been adopted

On a European Union level, the month before, Pascal Canfin, chairman of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament, proposed an alliance for a green recovery.

This movement, which brings together together 80 ministers, MEPs, CEOs, NGOs & Trade Unions joined by around thirty CEOs (Ikea, Unilever, Danone, Saint-Gobain, H & M, etc.) In her Green Deal, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen promised a “green, digital and resilient future”.

What you can do: Join or create a citizen’s convention in your country

Discover Solution 72: eco-friendly sandblasting

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Energy Your Home

70: Better baseboard heating

Problem:

Traditional domestic heating systems, burning fossil fuels, using heat pumps and/or solar energy are using the most inefficient heat distribution systems in the real consumption place, the room.

By creating an unbalanced distribution of hot and cold air, this in turn is detrimental to human health and is giving the highest energy consumption in the room and hereby the highest loss in the transportation of the heat to the room.

Solution:

Baseboard or skirting board central heating system.


In 1974, Erik Christian Vilhelm Keldmann, a mechanical engineer from Odense, Denmark improved the efficiency and energy consumption of central heating and air conditioning systems.

His ‘’heat embracement’’ skirting board systems he called Elpan for an electrical system and Wanpan for a hot water-heated system.

Both systems involve interconnecting module elements in such a way that the apparatus can extend along all the walls of the room.

The key in his invention is the balance in each module between heat delivered by radiation and convection. The created even comfort temperature, all over the living zone of the room, is created by the all embracing system by about 65 – 75 % radiation and approximately 25 – 35 % convection (circulating air ).

This created the experienced comfort temperature constant from floor to ceiling, which is the condition for having the highest thermal comfort for the lowest energy consumption.

Keldmann’s Elpan/Wanpan system which he patented in 1978, could be easily mounted by persons without special education.

It is today, after 45 years, still an elegant timeless designed product, the world’s smallest heating system giving freedom in furnishing even small rooms.

Keldmann also innovated an eco-friendly silent cooling system he called Norpan, where panels hung from the ceiling, over the office desks, with chilled water circulating in and out of the panel.

The human body radiates heat up to the panel and the panel sends back chilled air to cool the body. This is cooling for human beings at the lowest energy consumption.

Keldmann’s innovations threatened to disrupt the steel-based traditional radiator industry.

The Elpan – Wanpan systems proved the basis for disruption in a two year comparable test in four homes made by the biggest Danish newspaper “Berlingske Tidende – Boligen”, proving energy savings of 20 – 37 %., the system was then accepted.

But despite the world’s need for heat-saving systems, Elpan-Wanpan has not yet disrupted old fashioned traditional heating systems.

Erik Keldmann is still the president and owner of Keldmann Innovation A/S. With his son and partner Troels, they are now workings on new inventions to add value to Elpan/Wanpan all embracing heating systems.

Discover Solution 71: the French connection

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Materials Your Home

69: Cell phone components, nanocellulose

Problem:

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

Solution:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow’s solution: a healthier overall central heating system

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Materials Your Home

68: Biodegradable cell phone components

Problem:

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

Solution:

Biodegradable cell phone components.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mobility Human Effort

67: Carpooling

Problem:

Four to six-seater privately owned automobiles are seldom full, creating massive traffic holdups and emitting huge amounts of greenhouse gas.

Solution:

Carpooling or ridesharing consists of a private vehicle owner sharing their ride with others.


It first became prominent in the United States as a rationing tactic during World War II. It returned in the mid-1970s due to the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis. It was also known as “hitch-hiking”.

At that time the first employee vanpools were organized at Chrysler and 3M. Recently, however, The Commuter Benefit system linked to the Internet has facilitated growth for carpooling and the commute share mode has grown to 10.7% in 2005.

In 2007 with the advent of smart phones and commercially available GPS, computer programmers John Zimmer and Logan Green, from Cornell University and the University of California, Santa Barbara respectively, rediscovered and created carpooling system called Zimride.

This was a precursor to Lyft launched in the summer of 2012 which operates in 640 cities in the United States and 9 cities in Canada. It develops, markets, and operates the Lyft mobile app, offering car rides, scooters, and a bicycle-sharing system.

In China, since Didi Chuxing set up a carpooling service called Hitch in Beijing, Harbin, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, Changzhou, Shenyang and Nantong, it has clocked more than a billion rides of trips less than 31 mi. (50 km.) in metro areas between 5am and 8pm for female users. Male users can enjoy the service till 11pm.

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, provided social distancing and mask wearing are observed, carpooling, hand-in-hand with public transport systems, will remain most effective when all the vehicles involved are zero emission electric.

Tomorrow’s solution: biodegradable cell phones

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Carbon Capture Your Home

66: Recycling bubbles for brew

Problem:

There is too much CO2 in the atmosphere.

Solution:

Take CO2 out of the atmosphere and use it in making craft beer.


CO2 is one of the five key ingredients in beer making, along with hops, malt, yeast and water.

Josh Hare, founder and president, Hops and Grain Brewing in Austin, Texas, has set up Earthly Labs with Amy George to commercialise CiCi, a plug-and-play carbon capture technology for craft brewers.

The craft brewing industry represents one small scale opportunity with nearly 20,000 emissions sources representing 500 million metric tons or more annually.

Brewers also use CO2 to carbonate and package their beer, commonly purchasing it from a third-party provider, which creates a closed loop recycling opportunity.

CiCi is uniquely designed to capture carbon dioxide waste from smaller sources such as businesses, homes, and transportation that make up more than half of all carbon dioxide emissions.

The beer-making process emits carbon dioxide (CO2), and yet small breweries still need to purchase commercial CO2 to carbonate and package their beer.

Earthly Labs’ goal is to capture one billion tonnes of CO2 as fast as possible. (craftbrewingbusiness.com)

Discover Solution 67: carpooling

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