3 Innovations for a Cleaner Environment You Never Heard Of

3 Innovations for a Cleaner Environment You Never Heard Of

Necessity is the mother of invention, and these innovations certainly fit the bill. 

Innovation in clean energy, sustainable infrastructure and eco-friendly solutions to environmental hazards are the need of the hour. The burden on the world’s natural recourses is immense, and it is high time we focus on renewability and diversification. While we are only scratching the tip of the iceberg, here are three innovations working to create an environment-friendly future.

1. Tulip-shaped wind turbines

Tulip-shaped wind turbines
Image courtesy of Flower Turbines

Wind turbines are some of the most effective tools for producing clean and renewable energy. A traditional single offshore wind turbine can produce over eight megawatts of electricity, enough to power around six homes with clean energy for over a year. However, they do have some downsides. First, traditional wind turbines require massive tracts of open land to function to their maximum capacity. They are also extremely noisy and pose significant risks to avian wildlife, like birds and bats, with many considering them an eyesore in the countryside. These factors limit the widespread adoption of wind turbines in regular city planning.

Founded in 2013, Netherlands-based company Flower Turbines is looking to change all of this for the better. It hopes to blend art and functionality together by developing tulip-shaped wind turbines. When placed in small groups, the turbines become highly efficient because their curved, petal-shaped rotors can push air into neighboring turbines, maximizing the potential of a single gust of wind by bouncing it back and forth. Also, their vertical design makes them much quieter than traditional wind turbines. 

To make their integration into public and private spaces easier, the company offers tulip-shaped turbines in various sizes, colors and designs. Moreover, due to the reduced surface area of the rotating blades, they are less likely to harm wild animals flying next to them. 

The company currently has turbines in three sizes up for purchase. The small-sized turbines are one meter (3.3 ft) in height and can fit everywhere. The medium size—the most popular choice—stands at three-meter (9.8 ft), suitable for installations on flat rooftops and concrete ground. The largest size is five-meter (16.4 ft) high and can create around three to five kilowatts of electricity in open spaces, like parking lots or field edges. 

2. Hair mats to clean up oil spills

Hair mats to clean up oil spills
Image courtesy of Matter of Trust

Oil spills have presented some of the most devastating environmental hazards in history. Large spills can harm aquatic and avian wildlife, and many chemical dispersants used to clean up these spills are also potentially deadly to human beings. While better infrastructural and security checks have significantly reduced the number of large oil spills in the past decade, the problem remains.

A San Francisco-based non-profit organization created a revolutionary solution: mats made of human hair. Matter Of Trust, founded by Lisa Gautier in 1998, produces mats from donated human and animal hairs to soak up oil spills. The original idea to use hair to clean up oil came from Phil McCrory, an Alabama hair stylist who correlated the hair he shampooed and cut and its oil-absorbing capacity. McCrory realized that the hair that he had to sweep off the salon floor that would otherwise have no use could be used to clean up oil spills. Gautier and her husband later collaborated with McCrory to bring the idea to life. 

The first iteration of the idea was to stuff donated hair into nylon stockings to create a sort of hair buoy. The buoys would absorb the oils effectively but would get heavier and become difficult to retrieve. Then, the organization moved on to create felted mats using donated hair and fur. The hair mats, which look similar to a large doormat, are more effective than the buoys due to the increased surface area. With the mats, one kilogram of hair can absorb oil up to five times its weight. The lack of nylon covering also means less risk of leaving plastic in the water. 

The organization has since diversified the usage of the hair mats to protect urban and rural waterways from oil spills due to leaky vehicles, road spills or other petrochemical-related accidents. The hair mats and rolls can be placed around storm drains, gutters etc., to filter petrochemicals and debris from the water and thus prevent water contamination. 

3) Hemp building blocks

Hemp building blocks
Image courtesy of Just BioFiber on Facebook

To anyone fond of Lego sets, Canada-based company Just BioFiber’s building blocks may seem like a fascinating way to build one’s home.

The company makes sustainable, eco-friendly building materials called hempcrete by creating a mixture of the wooden core of the hemp plant, limestone and water. It can harden into a consistency similar to concrete with CO2 addition and moisture removal. 

Each block is embedded with a structural frame made of vegetable oil-based polyester. The frame protrudes from the block’s top surface and can be inserted into holes in another block. This allows blocks to be stacked like Lego blocks, creating a sturdy interlocking system. The blocks do not contain sand and can be cut to size using band saws or other power tools.

Also, the blocks are lightweight, with each weighing only about 25 pounds (11.33 kg). Hence, they are easier to handle than traditional concrete blocks and help to speed up the construction process. The company also claims a host of other benefits to hempcrete blocks, such as having a high insulation value and being flame, insect and mold resistant.

They are also more sustainable, as hemp fibers are naturally durable and sequester about four times the amount of CO2 than trees. Also, compared to wood, where a tree has to be around 20-80 years old to be useable, a hemp crop requires only 90-120 days to be fully grown and ready to use. Moreover, you can break the hemp blocks to compost the hemp part in your garden!                                                                                                                                                         

On top of that, the company claims that building with its hemp blocks will make the entire construction process (e.g. extraction of raw materials, transport and installation) carbon negative, meaning that it absorbs more CO2 than it releases.

However, hemp blocks cannot be used underground because they are biodegradable and can decompose in the soil. To combat this, Just BioFiber designed waterproof foam blocks made of recycled plastics or soybean oil

Innovations like the ones in this article are a major part of normalizing best practices that put our environment and our futures first. Coupled with the rising popularity of ESG investing, we can expect to see more companies developing tech solutions to conserve and preserve our environment. 

Also read:

Banner image courtesy of Unsplash


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email


Companies That Are on a Hiring Spree amid Layoffs at Twitter, Meta and Other Big Tech

Companies That Are on a Hiring Spree amid Layoffs at Twitter, Meta and Other Big Tech

The tech industry is facing a slew of staff cutbacks since the beginning of the year. In November 2022, the internet went into a frenzy at Elon Musk laying off most of Twitter’s employees. A few days later, Meta also announced its own round of layoffs, letting go of about 13% of the workforce. Later, Salesforce also confirmed it had dismissed hundreds of workers to cut expenses.

4 Business Sectors Reaping Profit from FIFA World Cup 2022

4 Business Sectors Reaping Sweet Profit from FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The 2022 FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar will generate roughly US$6.5 billion in revenue, topping the previous record of US$5.4 billion from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Thanks to the once-in-four-year tournament, Qatar’s GDP is estimated to grow by 4.1% in 2022, and the tournament alone could add up to US$20 billion to Qatar’s economy.

Transparency in the Post FTX World What is Proof of Reserve

Transparency in the Post FTX World: What is Proof of Reserve?

In November this year, two big league crypto businesses, FTX and BlockFi, filed for bankruptcy. FTX had a death spiral after news broke out that the Sam Bankman-Fried-owned exchange had used customer funds to make risky bets through his hedge fund Alameda Research. On the other hand, FTX was closely associated with BlockFi, with them having signed a loan agreement with each other and BlockFi holding US$355 million in digital assets on FTX.

How Do Recommendation Engines Work

How Do Recommendation Engines Work?

Picture this: You just finished a film on Netflix and want to follow it up with something similar. Luckily, Netflix comes to the rescue and gives you the perfect suggestions to continue your weekend movie binge. This isn’t just a hypothetical scenario but something a lot of people actually go through.

Quantum Computing Has a Cybersecurity Problem. Here’s How Experts Are Solving It

Quantum Computing Has a Cybersecurity Problem. Here’s How Experts Are Solving It

In 2019, Google used its quantum computer, the Sycamore machine, to prove that quantum computers can solve a problem in mere minutes. Experts working on the quantum computer found that their system could execute a calculation in 200 seconds, whereas a standard computer would take 10,000 years to complete. What on earth is this powerful tool?

Here Are Some Alternative Sites People Are Jumping To

Musk May Have Killed Twitter: Here Are Some Alternative Sites People Are Jumping To

Ever since Elon Musk purchased the social networking site Twitter for US$40 billion, things haven’t been looking too good for the company’s future. Not only did Musk fire over 50% of the employees soon after stepping on board as the new chief executive officer, but he also intends to allow maximum freedom of speech. This can end up making Twitter a cesspool of racism and misogyny, as well as other forms of hate speech.