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4 environmentally sustainable green technology applications

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Posted April 10, 2018

The world is shifting to an environmentally sustainable paradigm. New and innovative ideas are changing the way technology is applied from waste management to energy extraction. Trans-governmental organizations like the U.N. and national government motivations are now geared towards green policy.

Electric vehicle charging stations. Image credit: Oregon Convention Center via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Since the United Nations adopted the 1992 “Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests,” otherwise known as Agenda 21, additional impetus to pursue sustainable development was provided for various international and local institutions, including corporations.

Meanwhile, the private sector is also now more environmentally conscious and responsible in their operations.Industrial efforts are directed to developing green technologies that will alleviate the environmental impact of human activities.

Green technological solutions are addressing major issues that include but not limited to waste and pollution management, energy extraction, climate change and depletion of natural resources, including food resources. Some companies focus on specific problems like storing renewable energy from wind or solar power through batteries while others are addressing multiple environmental problems at the same time.

Solving multiple problems at the same time

Some green tech companies are more comprehensive in their approach. For instance, Greenbelt Resources Corp. (OTCMKTS:GRCO) is able to provide sustainable solutions to multiple environmental problems while focusing on one main issue. It is addressing the conversion of other organic wastes into energy at a community scale. In so doing, it is simultaneously addressing the problems of waste management, energy scarcity, and food security.

Originally established in 2006 to help corn farmers in converting corn wastes into ethanol, the company expanded to community-based solid and liquid waste processing.  It’s process of producing renewable bioethanol as a biofuel may also produce bioethanol as a local source of cannabis extraction solvent in addition to providing an alternative energy source.

Greenbelt Resources’ small-scale technology recycles food, beverage and agricultural wastes into bioethanol fuel, fertilizer and protein concentrate products that are rich in amino acids. These concentrates are used in animal feeds and may even become protein supplements for human consumption.

Its ECOsystem technology also helps alleviate the impact of food waste. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about 30 to 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. each year goes to wastes. This amounts to US$220 billion of economic losses.  Testing and other data analysis indicates a wide variety of unavoidable food waste would qualify as feedstock for the ECOsystem model.

While Greenbelt has a comprehensive approach to addressing many problems at once, on the other hand, other companies focus on specific problems like renewable energy, agricultural data solutions and carbon dioxide sequestration from the air. Here are three other examples of companies that have unique strategies in solving environmental problems.

The closest thing to perpetual motion

If GRCO is deriving energy from organic waste products, one energy firm is seemingly extracting electricity out of nowhere. EnOcean generates electricity through the temperature differentials between two materials.This is known as the Seebeck Effect in honor of the Estonian physicist Thomas Seebeck who studied the phenomenon.

EnOcean’s present system of electricity generation, however, requires extreme temperature differences between two materials in close proximity. The company is developing a version that will only require room temperature. If this happens, it will be the closest thing to perpetual motion.

The tech firm is focused on manufacturing and marketing technology systems for harvesting energy. It also manufactures sensors and radio communication devices. Aside from its energy harvesting technology, its automating and lighting systems contribute to minimizing energy consumption.

Crunching data for farmers

Another crucial aspect that few green tech organizations try to tackle is information. Accurate, updated and analyzed data are as important as any machine.

The agriculture sector can benefit from real-time weather and climate information and this is where data collecting and crunching become crucial. Information-based agritech organizations such as the Farmers Business Network provide help to farmers by aggregating large data and analyzing these data. Farmers can collaborate and plan their planting more effectively.

Farmers can access voluminous data on geographical agronomy, price transparency and market trends. The networks analytics are very useful for data integration and applications such as searching for productive seed varieties and evaluating seasonal soil quality in an area.

Sequestering carbon dioxide from the air

Other green technologies today are more direct in terms of reducing atmospheric carbon. At times, the most effective solutions to environmental problems are those that imitate nature itself. Artificial photosynthesis is one such solution to the problem of pollution and energy production. Instead of simply deriving oxygen from the process, the chemical reactions can be tweaked to produce hydrogen and methanol out of water and carbon dioxide with the help of sunlight.

Scientists like Dan Nocera of Harvard University are developing artificial leaves that could extract carbon dioxide from the air with the help of sunlight. The industrial-level applications may soon follow. Some companies like ClimeWorks are extracting carbon dioxide from the air to be used in their greenhouses to increase crop yields.

Complex environmental problems do not necessarily have complex solutions. Oftentimes, inventors and scientists do not need to develop new systems but simply use the existing systems more efficiently. Private companies and organizations take the technological solutions to the next level by making these them more accessible and economically viable to the general public.

Written by Anna Reyes

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