Students from the University of Exeter are helping a family-run Cornish business reduce their carbon footprint by embracing the renewables revolution.
Trewithen Dairy joined the ‘renewables revolution’ by installing solar panels at its site, as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment in recent years. Now, they are planning on installing a wind turbine near the site, to help generate electricity for the dairy and for the National Grid.
They enlisted the aid of the undergraduate students of University of Exeter to do a feasibility study. The resulting report will be utilized by the dairy.
This is a “win-win” situation: the students get a “hands on” experience and the local business benefits.
With the global growing population, and millions forced to walk more than a mile to collect their daily supply, new ways to find water is critical.
Here are some novel ideas that just may prove beneficial in this quest:
1. Growing glaciers
More than half of the world’s fresh water is stored in glaciers, 15 times more than all of the world’s lakes, rivers and wetlands combined. As a result of climate change, almost every glacier studied has been found to be shrinking and meltwater is simply lost to the rivers and sea. An Indian geo-engineer Chewang Norphel, who lives in Ladakh on the edge of the Himalayas diverts meltwater onto little plateau where it freezes. He has created 10 artificial glaciers this way, which can be used for water in the dry summer months.
2. A bath without water
At the age of 17, Ludwick Marishane was sunbathing in the Limpopo province of South Africa. His friend said idly to him: “Man, why doesn’t somebody invent something that you can just put on your skin and you don’t have to bathe.” Marishane researched the idea, eventually formulating a lotion called DryBath. Marishane says that DryBath – a blend of essential oils, bioflavonoids, and odour-eliminating chemical tawas – saves four liters of water ever session, a total of a million liters in total.
3. Ultra water efficient shower
We are all familiar with the moment. You get into the shower, turn the tap, then avoid the water until the temperature equalizes. For Peter Cullin, from Australia, said, “Every minute of every day, in millions of homes around the world quality fresh drinking water is lost to the drain from inefficient showers.” To solve the dilemma, Cullin created his “Cullector Ultra Efficient Shower”, a screw-in device that captures water at the beginning of a shower and and feeds it back into the system. If installed in 1,000 showers, Cullin says the device would save 200m liters of water a year.
4. The lifesaver bottle
“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink”, wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This paradox struck Michael Pritchard while watching news reports of the Boxing Day tsunami a decade ago. Clean water was being brought in on trucks as the floodwater was too dirty. To solve this problem, he invented his “lifesaver” bottle, which uses a pump to force water through a 15-nanometer filter, cleansing it of all bacteria and viruses. Since its launch, the Lifesaver Bottle has been used by hikers, aid companies and the British army in Afghanistan.
5. Rainmaking with lasers
In the 1840s, James P. Espy thought burning large fires in the American west would bring rain to the east. In the 1950s, there were attempts at cloud seeding. Now, the idea of rainmaking has returned to the scientific agenda. The idea this time is to fire lasers into the atmosphere. Properly-directed pulses of light have been shown to help ice sublime and vapor condense. The World Meteorological Organization recently debated the future use of this new technology. One of the possibilities is to use lasers to induce rain at times of drought.
6. The fold up toilet
Along with the shower, the toilet is one of the home’s greatest source of water waste. As much as seven liters can vanish in a single flush and, wanting to improve matters, two students from the University of Huddersfield have invented Iota, the folding toilet. Iota’s design is markedly different to the traditional toilet and, as such, makes more efficient use of water. Gareth Humphreys and Elliott Whiteley, Iota’s inventors, claim that if installed it could save 10,000 liters per person every year.
7. Leak monitoring
Despite all the water wasted inside the home – dripping taps, inefficient toilets and showers – utility companies acknowledge that as much as a third is lost to leaks before it even arrives. Tackling this problem is Zonescan Alpha, a software that pinpoints leaks and relays data back to a control center. It works by embedding sensors throughout a network and has been successfully trialled by Albstadtwerke, a German utility company, which says it helped reduce waste by 2m liters.
8. Solar powered water purification
Hot climates suffer the most from a lack of water, making the invention of 16-year-old American, Deepika Kurup, all the more intriguing. Hailed as one of the USA’s brightest young scientists, this year Kurup was awarded the US Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her ingenious solar-chemical purification process. This involves exposing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to ultra violet radiation from the sun to produce a photo catalytic composite that cleans water. “This technology is green, safe, cost effective and easily deployable,” said Kurup.
Are there any environmental water engineers who can bring their expertise to new technology and make a real difference in this vast world we live in?
Fourteen flooring tiles from London-based clean-tech company Pavegen Systems were installed outside the Saint-Omer subway station in northern France. The tiles, each roughly 7 by 24 inches, generate renewable electricity from the otherwise wasted energy of footsteps.
When a walker’s foot makes contact with the tile, it bends inappreciably, depressing an average of five millimeters each step and creating approximately seven watts of converted kinetic energy in the process. The slabs, made from 100 percent recycled rubber, can store energy for up to 72 hours via small built-in batteries.
“I realized that although wind and solar alternatives were progressing exponentially, they were inefficient in urban environments due to high-rise infrastructure and pollution,” he says. “Given that 60 percent of the world’s population would be residing in urban environments by 2030, I decided to investigate further. I discovered footfall as an untapped, renewable resource that is efficient, constant, and literally all around us, to be used when and where it is needed.”
The tiles were also installed at the Simon Langton Grammar school in Kent, UK. Check out the students’ reaction to this exciting new technology:
This is a win-win situation for all involved: the students who get inspired to think of ways to contribute to a smarter planet at a very young impressionable age, the company looking to expand operations into different venues to capture greener energy production, and, of course, the entrepreneur who profits from this great new technology!
What a great world we live in – that young minds can shape a very (literally) bright future!
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is now the biggest global environmental killer. Poor air quality can cause people to die early due to strokes, heart conditions, cancer, and other health issues and it’s taking a toll on our children.
University of California – Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering students have calculated that for the low cost of $5.00, your home could be transformed into a smog-eating house that could eliminate pollution-causing nitrogen oxides from the air just by sitting there. They have determined that a coating of titanium dioxide (TiO2) costing about $5.00 on a typical home’s roof would remove the nitrogen oxides emitted by a car driven 11,000 miles yearly. Read more…
Some cities around the world have also tackled this problem with air quality, using truly advanced technological solutions.
Wouldn’t it be a great to be on the leading edge of this revolution to clean our air!