Editorial Feature

Green Innovation on AZoM - World Environment Day 2022

This World Environment Day the theme is #OnlyOneEarth. As the climate crisis looms, research and technology are constantly striving to produce new advancements to make our daily lives more sustainable and support a circular economy. On AZoM, we are proud to platform innovative sustainable research and green technology. We are taking a dive into some of our articles and interviews that look toward a greener future: 

Interviews

How Can Valve Diagnostics Reduce Emissions in the Chemical Industry?

AZoM spoke to David Anderson, a director at Score Diagnostics Ltd, about the role valve maintenance and diagnostics play in efforts to reduce emissions in the chemical industry and make industry as a whole greener. 

According to a UK government report, industry represents nearly a quarter of UK emissions. Within process industries, valves have been identified as the biggest source of emissions - whether these be through-valve leaks (leading to vents and flares) or fugitive emissions (from gland packings, joints, etc.)

Creating Sustainable Textiles From Seaweed

We speak with Anna Watkins about her business Uncommon Alchemy, which is developing an exciting novel textile material made from seaweed. 

Raw materials and biodegradability are one part of the problem, but from a wider perspective, what we really need is system change throughout the fashion industry. We need better raw materials and better ways of capturing and reprocessing waste – innovation needs to happen across the value chain. We also need to find better ways of communicating with consumers about sustainable options.

Converting Carbon to Key Chemicals with Bacteria

In this interview, Michael Jewett, a researcher at Northwestern University, talks about a novel process using bacteria to capture CO2 and convert it into the useful commercial chemicals acetone and isopropanol. This could bring us closer to a circular bioeconomy in the chemical sector. 

Solutions for carbon-free, renewable production of energy exist, but most of the things around us and everyday products are based on hydrocarbon chemicals produced from fresh fossil sources. Thus, we need to develop new carbon-negative strategies to make chemicals and products. This is significant to fighting the climate crisis, and microbes can tackle some of the toughest-to-decarbonize sectors.

Image Credit: Dmitry Kovalchuk/Shutterstock.com

Novel Catalyst for Clean Hydrogen Production from Water

AZoM talked to Ailong Li, a postdoctoral researcher at RIKEN, about his research that has developed a green catalyst for the production of hydrogen energy. This could revolutionize efforts to leave fossil fuels behind in the production of clean energy. 

The development of renewable electricity should be a top priority, along with the development of more efficient electrolysis technologies.

Self-Cleaning, Dirt-Repellent and Degradable Bioplastics

Mehran Ghasemlou, a research fellow at RMIT University, discusses his research that has developed a self-cleaning and biodegradable bioplastic that is inspired by the lotus leaf. 

We need a bioplastic that stops moisture from getting in and spoiling our products (food, medical, and so on), but we also want that plastic to compost at its end-of-life. Our bioplastic is tough enough to use for packaging but then disintegrates easily in the presence of bugs and bacteria in soil.

 

Articles

What Do We Know About Thin Film Solar Cells?

Thin film solar cells are a next-generation solution for the renewable energy industry. They possess several benefits over conventional crystalline photovoltaic solar cell technologies, but there are still some limitations to these devices. This article will provide an overview of thin film solar cell technology, materials, applications, benefits, disadvantages, as well as some recent advances in the field.

Research has recently focused on increasing the absorption of the technology, such as by incorporating anti-reflective coatings. Additionally, research has been conducted into surface texturing, plasmonic light capture, optimizing solar cell materials, and exploiting nanomaterials such as nanowires and nanoparticles.

How is the Digital Transition Benefiting the Planet?

The rise of digital technologies enabling a digital transition correlates with our increasing awareness of a looming climate catastrophe. Researchers from Portugal’s Universidade Europeia scoured the literature recently to find out exactly how the digital transition has impacted the planet.

Once entire organizations and even industries are signed up to using the digital transition to benefit the planet, then significant changes become possible. One of these is the transition toward a circular economy. The circular economy is a model for goods and manufacturing that retains materials in the manufacturing system, rather than extracting new materials to ultimately send to landfill sites.

Image Credit: PopTika/Shutterstock.com

An Examination of Sustainable Adhesives

Growing global environmental concerns and the desire to limit the dependency on non-renewable mineral resources has stimulated the development of cost-effective and renewable adhesives as alternatives to conventional glues, sealants, and other bonding compounds.

The current trend of increasing the market share of sustainable bio-based adhesives is supported by R&D efforts to improve their mechanical and chemical properties, as well as to develop novel special-purpose adhesives.

An Overview of Polymer Upcycling

Various strategies have been formulated to minimize the accumulation of rapidly increasing plastic wastes. One of the methods involves upscaling, which is based on a catalytic transformation of plastics.

Plastics undergo different recycling strategies, predominantly categorized as upcycling (products with higher values than the corresponding plastics) or downcycling (products with lower values than the corresponding plastics) methods. This article focuses on the upscaling of polymers. 

Plastic Alternatives: Where Are We Now?

Plastic waste is seriously harming our planet’s health. Single-use, broken, lost, and discarded plastic items alike do not decompose in nature, instead polluting our soil and waterways for thousands of years. A new generation of start-ups and research projects are developing plastic alternatives to try to stem the tide of plastic pollution.

Producing – as well as wasting – plastic contributes to the climate crisis. The vast majority of plastic materials are made from fossil fuels, and at current trends, plastic will account for a fifth of global oil consumption by 2050.

 

We have #OnlyOneEarth (World Environment Day 2022)

Video Credit: UN Environment Programme/Youtube.com

Magnetic Ink Utilization in Recycling Efforts

Achieving a fully circular economy with maximum recycling is important for the future of sustainable manufacturing. Unfortunately, packaging often hinders recycling efforts because it contains elements that cannot be recycled and are difficult to separate from recyclable materials. Magnomer, an innovative packaging materials start-up, is using magnetizable ink to remove those impurities and allow for more complete recycling.

At present, only 6% of plastic bottles are recycled back into bottles, despite the existence of technology and public will to recycle more bottles for the last few decades.

Regenerating Wood Waste with Additive Manufacturing

Wood waste has continued to be undervalued as a resource. Now, Desktop Metal, a leader in the metal binder jetting production market, has launched Forust, a new company that uses volume additive manufacturing for the production of sustainable wood products from wood waste. The company is pioneering the reuse of wood waste, helping to boost the sustainability of wood even further.

While 3D printing has been around since the 1980s, it has only been in recent years that its potential applications have begun to be fully explored and developed. Therefore, new applications of 3D printing, such as its use in regenerating waste wood into new materials, are still in their infancy. It is inevitable the processes will continue to be enhanced as the process becomes more established and it used for a greater number of purposes.

 

For more information on World Environment Day, visit this link: https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/

Skyla Baily

Written by

Skyla Baily

Skyla graduated from the University of Manchester with a BSocSc Hons in Social Anthropology. During her studies, Skyla worked as a research assistant, collaborating with a team of academics, and won a social engagement prize for her dissertation. With prior experience in writing and editing, Skyla joined the editorial team at AZoNetwork in the year after her graduation. Outside of work, Skyla’s interests include snowboarding, in which she used to compete internationally, and spending time discovering the bars, restaurants and activities Manchester has to offer!

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