Scientists are continuously working and researching to find better alternatives to the present technologies to fight the increasing pollution, and in the way, the invent a new technique or product that completely changes the process, with increased efficiency and almost zero waste. In the previous post of this two part topic I wrote about already existing technologies that have been improved or gained momentum in the previous year and are our another step towards a clean Earth. Here, in this second and last part, I will write about new inventions in the past few months, that will make their old counterparts seem useless. To read about the impending danger from global warming, read Before The Flood.
Graphene Oxide Based Sieve To Desalinate Water
Whenever we search for alien life, our first step is to detect water. Why? Because our own life depends on it, we need water to regulate our metabolisms, biochemical reactions, and essential for growing food. But according to UN by the year 2025, 14 percent of the world’s population will be facing water scarcity, and with the decrease in the amount of fresh drinking water, without efficient technology to convert seawater, which is plenty around us, into fresh water, countries are going to face a hard time. In a process called ‘desalination’, salt is filtered out of sea water producing fresh water. But today’s desalination plants use polyester membranes to filter salt, but they have comparably large pores through which salt passes, and are relatively costly and inefficient. In response, a team led by Rahul Nair, from University of London, have designed graphene-oxide based sieves, with pores as small as 1 nanometer, which allows water molecules to pass through but not the salt ions, which are hence filtered. As of 2100, all of Greenland’s ice cover will melt, and with scarce freshwater, seawater is our only alternative. Future generations might face sea levels almost 7.3 meters higher. As of now, this technology has been only tested in lab, but is proven promising for practical uses. The membrane has epoxy resin coating to prevent it from swelling up in water, and maintaining the desired pore size. Right now the team is testing the durability of the membrane and methods to replace it. Paper posted in Nature Nanoparticles.
Molecule That Absorbs Solar Energy Without Solar Panels
Liang-shi Li from Indiana University and an International team of scientists have invented what they call a ‘molecular leaf’. This nanographene structure uses its dark colour to absorb large amounts of energy form the sun and then its rhenium engines convert the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into carbon monoxide which can also be used as a fuel. Since converting carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide requires the same amount of energy as released when carbon monoxide burns to give CO2, using extra input from solar energy has provided with an efficient way to reduce CO2 levels. Li is confident that his invention can bring a considerable change in the scenario of green house gases and is the most efficient method to reduce CO2 levels yet. Right now he is working on methods to make the molecular leaf stable at even non-liquid states and use magnesium instead of rhenium as it is more abundant and will reduce the cost price. In the past 150 years the CO2 levels have increased from 218 ppm(parts per million) to 400 ppm, and scientists claim that about 95 percent of rise in the mean temperature of the planet has been cause by humans. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that means a good retainer of heat, and increased levels of the gas raises the temperature of the planet causing climate change.
Converting Carbon Dioxide To Ethanol: A 70% Efficient Process
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee stumbled upon a new method to create Ethanol, a renewable fuel, from carbon dioxide. Surprisingly, this was unexpected. The team was trying to find a method to convert CO2 into methanol but to their surprise, the found an efficient and astonishingly easy way to convert CO2 into Ethanol, the catalyst used converted almost 70 percent of CO2 into Ethanol, so hardly any CO2 is wasted, and all the chemicals involved are common. To top it, the reaction takes place at room temperature and can be turned on and off at will. This can help reducing the global carbon footprint a lot and in return also provide with an efficient and renewable fuel like ethanol.
Edible Water Bottle: Steps Towards A Plastic Free Earth
A team of researchers participating in this year’s EU science meet to find more conventional ways to tackle environment degradation, have created a new method of water packaging called ‘Ooho’. Last year the global packaged water consumption was around 220 billion litres, and simultaneously high was the amount of plastic bottles discarded. Plastic is non-biodegradable and stays around for millions of years, takes a lot of energy to manufacture and the worst part is that the use is increasing. The new packing is completely edible with zero waste, and is made from seaweed. The basic materials used are calcium chloride and a seaweed derivative, sodium alginate. The price for one unit’s manufacture is around one penny. The packing is like a small water blob, and is dubbed as ‘Water you can eat’ by the makers. To contain larger amount of water, many of such blobs can be packed in a bigger thicker membrane. The product is completely environmental friendly, healthy and edible. This new method can finally protect us from the demon that is plastic. Today plastic waste is a major issue all over the world, affecting both land creatures and aquatic creatures alike.
Despite all the challenges, there are people who are trying to make this World a better place to live in again, and reduce the effects of human-induced changes. But all this will be in vain until and unless each and everyone of us steps forward and pledges to reduce waste output and our carbon footprint. Learn more about these issues, read what you can do to help, and pursue the leaders to impliment the necessary laws to control and reduce climate change and pollution. Happy Earth Day! Happy Reading!
-The Cosmogasmic Person