As is to be expected in the final run-up to COP26, October has been an extremely busy month for sustainability-related news. The UK Government published 21 green policy documents in a 72-hour window last week, including the long-awaited Net-Zero Strategy.
Innovation will, of course, play a key role in delivering a sustainable future. With that in mind, here is a selection of the best breakthrough technologies and innovations which could help businesses and nations turn their climate ambitions into actions.
Bioplastics made from green algae
UK-based plastic technology specialist Symphony Environmental has teamed up with the French biotech company Eranova to create a new “smart plastic” bag using upcycled green algae. The technology aims to not only reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuel-intensive plastic, but also create new uses for green algae.
Eranova’s process extracts starch from the algae to produce a biodegradable and compostable resin, which is then used to manufacture packaging and other products. The biomass can also be used to produce biofuel, proteins for food and animal feed, as well as by-products for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. By using algae, Eranova is able to produce a fossil-fuel-free bioplastic that does not rely on food crops, making it a win-win for sustainability.
Energy from tomato plants
Ilja Schamle, a design graduate from the Eindhoven Design Academy in the Netherlands, has created a project to highlight how renewable energy derived from tomato vines could be used to run a cloud server. The project aims to explore how technology could form a symbiotic relationship with nature. In turn, the heat generated by the computer offers optimal growing temperatures for the tomatoes.
According to Schamle, the system, which is named Warm Earth, is designed for a hypothetical apocalyptic future (or utopian, depending on how you look at it) that requires people to rely on living plants as an alternative source of energy. Schamle envisions tomato plants living within traditional server rack cabinets. Tomatoes and servers would be connected by the ventilation shaft, with a fan helping to funnel the hot air from the computer, turning it into a greenhouse for the tomatoes. It also aims to highlight the concept of reclaiming data centers from being foreign entities and bringing these back into our homes.
Simultaneously, the tomatoes would provide energy to the computer
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