Brand new green discoveries that could save the world!
Much as we'd love it, we're fairly certain that an all-powerful superhero isn't going to swoop down and solve all the environmental issues currently facing us. But that doesn't mean it's time to give up hoping for a better future...
Heroic efforts are being made in laboratories and engineering labs across the planet as the earth's scientists push on in leaps and bounds, discovering brilliant solutions to the world's problems. Here are just a few of the potential game changers that have emerged this year:
37-litres of drinking water a day... from the air!
Planted about six feet into the ground, the WaterSeer device uses wind power and condensation to pump up to 37-litres of fresh drinking water to the surface in even dry and still conditions.
With 1-in-3 people in the world lacking access to clean potable water due to drought and pollution, the WaterSeer could save thousands upon thousands of lives.
'4-D printing' and shape-shifting solar panels
These images show the results of tests on a new 'shape-shifting' plastic. This flexible material has 'memory', so objects created can be twisted or stretched yet will 'snap' back into shape when a certain temperature is reached.
The researchers behind the discovery are calling this '4-D printing', as these object can change in shape over the fourth dimension of time! One of the possible applications is sun-tracking mechanisms for solar panels, with responsive hinges adjusting the angle of the panel without the need for power.
Harmful algae harvested to make flexible foams
Have you heard of algal blooms? Agricultural fertilisers and detergents used in cleaning our homes can end up in our waterways, so increasing the amount of nutrients in the water many times over. The algae feed on this glut of nutrition and start reproducing far beyond their normal rate. The resulting 'bloom' clogs up rivers, beaches and lakes, often killing fish and other aquatic creatures by starving them of oxygen.
Fortunately,an innovative company has discovered a way to use this excess algae to make a flexible foam, such as you might find padding the sole of your running shoes or the tail of your surfboard...
BLOOM Foam's mobile harvesting unit sucks up algal blooms from freshwater lakes and ponds, filtering out the overly nutritious pollution and recirculating the cleaned water back into place.
Once harvested, the algae is dried into pellets and used in the manufacture of a highly flexible, naturally antimicrobial foam, which can be used instead of conventional foam in trainer soles, surfing gear and in thousand of other applications.
Fewer deadly algal blooms? Cleaner water for wildlife and local people? Less petroleum used in the making of foam-soled footwear and other products? As far as we're concerned that's a win-win-win!