Innovative Technologies For the Future of the Environment - Seeker's Thoughts

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Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

Innovative Technologies For the Future of the Environment

Innovation driven by environmental stewardship has become a movement. It encompasses companies of all kinds, investors, and governments alike.

Green tech solutions are becoming more affordable, which brings us closer to meeting climate change goals, but for their success to take root it takes an ecosystem to support them.


Biofuels offer an alternative fuel source, emitting significantly fewer greenhouse gasses when burned compared to conventional fossil fuels and meeting stricter environmental standards. Biofuels may be used on their own or blended with fossil fuels for cleaner combustion blends that meet environmental regulations.

Biofuels are produced from plants or animal waste and used to create gasoline, diesel, kerosene and jet fuel among others. Ethanol and biodiesel are two commonly-used types of biofuel produced from agricultural products - with corn being fermented into ethanol while soybeans, sunflower seeds or vegetable oils are often the source for biodiesel production.

Though biofuels may help lower emissions, it's important to keep in mind that they come at their own environmental cost. A typical life cycle analysis takes into account all of the energy expended on growing and processing crops into fuel - biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel offer only modest greenhouse gas reductions when compared with gasoline or diesel.

Cellulosic ethanol could provide greater climate benefits; this biofuel is produced by breaking down plant biomass such as cellulose and hemicellulose into digestible forms that scientists are developing technologies for. Scientists are developing technologies that convert these hard-to-digest molecules into transportation fuels like ethanol, jet fuel and diesel.

Science behind these advanced biofuels is promising. Researchers at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory are developing techniques that would allow algae and cyanobacteria to yield up to 100 times more fuel per unit area than second-generation biofuels such as ethanol or canola oil production, potentially making these fuels suitable for production on marginal crops with minimal water and fertilizer requirements - helping mitigate deforestation risks while simultaneously supporting ecosystem disruptions.


Algae may seem like nothing more than unsightly green scum on an abandoned fish tank or slimy deposits in your pond, but these organisms actually have great potential. These tiny organisms provide renewable resources which can be used for energy, food and biofuel. Indeed, older oil deposits have even been linked to cyanobacteria or marine green algae.

Algae can grow 10 times faster than land plants while taking up only 10% of the space required to produce biomass, while it also has the unique capability of recycling CO2 back into oxygen, making it a highly sustainable fuel and product source. No wonder researchers are turning their focus toward algae as a sustainable energy solution!

Eranova, an Australian company using microalgae to make biodegradable plastic that can be used for packaging and other products, stands as a prime example. Eranova reduces industrial waste treatment costs while simultaneously creating jobs and new markets for its raw material supply chain.

UTS Algal Phenomics facility is another notable development, allowing scientists to rapidly screen and evolve strains of algae in much less time than is required when traditional breeding and trial-and-error techniques are used to enhance crop varieties.

Although algae-as-fuel has been heralded as an alternative to fossil fuels, its development remains far from cost-effective and competitive. Still, algae has the potential to significantly decrease our reliance on fossil fuels; furthermore it's being utilized as a power source on space missions due to its minimal resource requirements and efficiency.


Water is essential for life on Earth. It plays an essential role in performing chemical reactions, supporting cell shapes and membrane integrity, cooling medium in nuclear and thermal power plants and serving as the basis of many drugs and fuels manufactured today. No other molecule possesses such unique properties that enable life.

However, global populations are straining natural water reserves due to urbanization, industrial expansion and climate change. New green technologies offer ways to mitigate negative environmental effects while creating economic opportunities.

New technologies like eco-friendly aircraft engines, rainwater harvesting systems and greywater recycling systems can have a substantial impact on how we use water. They will conserve resources while decreasing pollution caused by fossil fuels; as well as help restore ozone layer in the upper atmosphere.

Energy and water are inextricably linked, which makes investing in renewable energy sources such as solar power crucial to providing access to clean and affordable drinking water, sanitation services, energy and power to enhance human health, promote development and economic expansion.

From drilling for oil, mining coal or building nuclear power plants - all activities require vast quantities of water for fuel extraction, production and processing - this phenomenon is known as the "water-energy nexus."

Kelly Sanders of USC and Emily Grubert, assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, have recently quantified how much water is drawn upon to support U.S. energy consumption. Now they are working to turn these national estimates into county-specific information as water availability and needs vary widely across counties ranging from the dry Southwest to more abundant northeast regions. Furthermore, they are developing remote sensing technologies for municipalities that monitor their water use.

Biodegradable Electronics

Electronics have become an indispensable component of everyday life, yet their manufacture creates vast amounts of non-biodegradable waste that contaminates our environment. Commonly referred to as e-waste, its toxic substances may leach into soil and water sources posing severe risks for both people and wildlife alike.

Scientists are making great strides in greening up the electronics industry by developing biodegradable devices. By using materials made of biodegradable nature, these transient electronics can dissolve over time reducing waste production while becoming more eco-friendly.

Traditional electronics are constructed using non-biodegradable materials like silicon, gold and copper that contaminate the environment when discarded. With technology advancements comes an increase in non-biodegradable waste entering landfills causing a global crisis. Conversely, biodegradable electronics use organic and biocompatible materials which are safe for the environment while creating disposable devices which monitor biological processes without compromising security or reliability.

Scientists are turning to materials like silk to form disposable electronics, including portable circuits covered in silk that can disintegrate when no longer needed. One team of researchers developed such an electronic device as part of their study; for instance, this circuit could be used to monitor plant growth and development; monitor yield increases from farmers; detect cancer cells more efficiently reducing chemotherapy use or simply monitor growth in general.

These innovative devices are an important first step, but there is still much work to be done. To create functional electronic systems it will be essential to develop more effective materials strategies and fabrication techniques; extensive studies on interactions between materials used and biological solutions should also be conducted along with research into efficient encapsulation materials and biocompatibility testing.

Green Construction

Green construction is a building process designed to minimize its environmental impact by taking into account everything from design and assembly stages through final functionality of completed structures.

One of the greatest challenges associated with green construction is reducing energy use in all stages of production and assembly of building materials, from production, transportation and assembly, through heating/powering equipment use and operation costs. There are many strategies available to make building processes more energy-efficient such as using reusable material and recycling resources.

Utilizing materials with minimal energy usage is also key to maintaining sustainability in buildings, such as wood. Harvested wood can be harvested and used without deforestation or pollution occurring, while living materials like bacteria may help clean air and water within the structure itself! Adding these sustainable options into a building design will save both money and resources in terms of energy costs as well.

Green initiatives have recently attracted greater scrutiny, partly because of their environmental benefits and also as marketing tools for construction firms. A recent survey indicated that 72% of executive respondents reported their firm used green construction methods to reduce costs and save energy.

As well as cutting energy consumption, going green can also significantly cut waste production. One way is through waste reduction measures in material and worker transportation. Upper Route Planner software can assist in minimizing fuel usage, carbon emissions, and waste during delivery to construction sites - keeping your project on schedule while meeting sustainability goals.

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