Clearing the air with these eco tech inventions
© Graviky Labs
We look at five new and noteworthy innovations that are helping to transform the environment.
Innovation is changing the world, but it needn't be at the expense of the Earth. From ink made from exhaust fumes to parking metres that monitor air quality, we've rounded up five of the most interesting eco tech innovations to see how they're making big marks with small footprints.
Ever wondered how ink is made? Well, much of the cheap stuff comes from the deliberate burning of fossil fuels, which made the crew at MIT Media Lab wonder if it be made from pollution that's already occurring? The short answer is yes.
By retrofitting their specially-designed Kaalink device to the exhaust pipes of vehicles, the team is now capturing soot, removing any heavy metals and carcinogens and transforming what's left into a range of inks and paints used by artists. Just 45 minutes of exhaust emissions is enough to fill one fluid ounce of ink – the same amount as in an AIR–INK marker pen.
The successfully funded AIR–INK Kickstarter campaign raised over £23,000 early this year, with the team promising to scale up their pollution capture across Europe to make the exhaust ink more widely available.
Breathe easier, or just generally freak out about the state of your lungs with the CleanSpace Tag pollution monitor. This tag, and its accompanying smartphone app, track the air around you so that you can make changes to your environment, pick a cleaner travel route or avoid pollution hot spots.
About the size of an iPhone, the tag weighs just 51 grams and requires no charging due to its patent-pending Freevolt tech that CleanSpace claims can harvest wasted energy from wireless networks. Pop it in your pocket or affix it to your bike to join the quest for cleaner air and help map pollution in your area.
CleanSpace Tags are available online now for £49.99.
Introducing Rasa, the hydrogen fuel cell car you can't quite buy. While the Rasa's unlikely to break any land speed records with a current top speed of 60mph, its creator, Welsh company Riversimple, is thought to be the only car-maker to adopt a circular philosophy – promoting less waste, reusing parts where possible and partnering with companies that already produce hydrogen as a byproduct or from renewable energy inputs.
The Rasa is also not intended for purchase, with Riversimple instead opting for a long-term lease model where customers will receive full use of the vehicle, all required maintenance, and insurance, along with a virtually unlimited number of hydrogen refills. Thanks to crowdfunding, Riversimple recently raised over £1,138,000 to match an EU grant. This will enable them to hand-build 20 hydrogen fuel cell cars for beta testing later this year.
Find out more about Rasa on the Riversimple website.
Parkeon Parking Terminals
Parking metres across Britain could soon be tasked with monitoring more than just the length of your stay, thanks to the addition of air quality sensors. The monitoring module, by leading provider Parkeon, is designed to capture air quality and noise data, and feed this back to authorities. The information can then be used to inform initiatives around reducing emissions and improving air quality. Plus, there's no need for additional infrastructure. Maybe parking metres aren't such a bad idea after all... we said maybe.
Water out of thin air
Granted, this eco innovation from boffins at MIT and the University of California isn't about cleaning up the air, but it does put the air around us to good use, turning it into drinkable water that could revolutionise areas without access to clean water.
The gadget works in a similar fashion to a dehumidifier, turning water vapour into clean and consumable water, but without the need for electricity. Instead, the device uses heat from the sun and a specially developed material called MOF (Metal-Organic Framework), which is a lattice of organic molecules designed to capture particles of water vapour. Free water from thin air, what's not to like?
Find out more about sustainability at Red Bull!