Climate Tech: A Look at 5 Innovative Solutions

8 mins read
climate action

Humanity is currently producing 34 billion tons of CO2 each year, just over four tons per person on Earth. Scientists are alarmed by the fact that the planet has been getting markedly warmer as our production of CO2 and other wastes has increased over the last 100 years. Many believe that reducing the average person’s carbon footprint to below two tons per year may mitigate our effect on rising temperatures.

The average person, however, may lack the resources to change their lifestyle enough to reduce their carbon footprint. Luckily, innovative climate tech can help humanity adapt as a whole without pressuring individuals too much. Take a look at five of our favorite inventions that can combat climate change.

1. Giant Carbon Vacuum Cleaners

Swiss startup Climeworks has developed a machine to target CO2 directly. Their carbon capture technology comes in two forms: direct air capture and storage (DAC+S) and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Direct Capture units filter CO2 out of any air in the area. They suck air in, remove the CO2, and pump clean air back into the atmosphere. One such factory already removes 4000 tons of CO2 every year and a larger one is in development that will remove 36000 tons annually.

CCS technology reduces emissions by capturing CO2 from the point of emission. These units are placed on or near factory chimneys and other industrial fixtures. This climate technology can turn factories into carbon-neutral facilities without affecting their manufacturing processes at all.

In both cases, operators transport the captured CO2 to storage sites. They store the CO2 by injecting it directly into certain rocks deep underground. The carbon can then safely form carbonate minerals.

2. Power From the Ground

If you go deep enough the Earth generates significant heat all on its own and we’ve been able to use this to generate power for over 100 years. Geothermal Power Plants are a broad category of power stations that use naturally occurring heat sources and steam to generate electricity. This is the oldest form of climate engineering.

In early 1900s Italy, a power plant was built over an erupting steam spring. As technology gets better, stations might not even need insanely hot sources.

Alternatively, the stations could create their own heat sources by simply drilling deep down and filling them with a liquid with a lower boiling point. This way they don’t need to find a natural hot spring to start generating power.

That isn’t the only way to use the Earth’s surface as a power generator. There has also been an effort to turn roads and highways into green energy.

Solar Roadways has developed a road surface that can hold the weight of traffic and generate electricity. The solar-paneled roadway also houses little LEDs that can light up to create lines and signage. This invention can also potentially power houses and businesses along its route.

3. Plastic Reducers

Aside from carbon, we also face the problem of plastic polluting our lands and oceans. This is having a detrimental effect on wildlife and may even be decreasing the quality of the food that we consume. Thankfully there have been a number of plastic combating innovations in recent years.

One such solution is companies that turn plastic waste into tiny islands. These little islands can hold small gardens, fountains, and other decorations. This system may even see industrial uses if the technology develops further.

This method of repurposing plastic waste is so effective that one entrepreneur has used a similar approach to build a floating island resort.

Repurposing and recycling plastic waste are also becoming easier as we find more effective methods. In Japan, scientists discovered bacteria that produce enzymes that break plastics down into their constituent elements.

4. Energy By the Sea

You’ll note that our oceans are giant natural perpetual motion machines. There are many ways to convert the coastlines into power generators.

In 2016 the US Navy tested a device named Azura at their wave test site in Hawaii. Azura is essentially a float attached to a shaft that moves up, down, left, and right with the waves. The system converts motion into energy and then transfers it to the land through a submerged cable.

Moreover, if a coastline is windy (but not too windy) you can also set up wind power farms that float. A perfect solution for countries that have mountains or soil that’s hard to build on.

5. Power Pellets

The reality, however, is that power grids worldwide are still dependent on coal-fire and diesel power plants. That’s where torrefied wood pellets, also known as black pellets, come into the picture.

Traditional torrefaction is a process that enriches wood by superheating it in an oxygen-rich environment. However, there’s now a process that torrefies wood in large industrial devices that resemble giant microwaves. If these machines are run by a cheap, green power plant nearby then the torrefaction itself can happen in an environmentally friendly way.

The benefit of using these wood pellets is that they burn much hotter than normal wood pellets while producing less CO2 than coal. Coal power plants also need little to no retrofitting before they can burn these. Climate tech companies in Maine (USA) and Europe are already investing a lot into this solution.

Climate Tech Is On the Rise

Humanity’s industrial progress has, unfortunately, had negative impacts on the environment, but that’s not the end of the story. There’s still time to slow the destruction and even reverse the damage. Scientists and engineers are building and designing innovative climate tech solutions to help our planet.

The main focuses are the reduction of carbon and plastic waste. Greener fuels and creative, zero-carbon power plants can help reduce carbon output, while carbon capture technology scrubs the rest of the contamination from the air. Special plastic-eating enzymes can also help us recycle plastic waste into better, reusable forms.

Do you love nature as much as we do? Our blog has some amazing and interesting articles about all of it. Learn more about animals, people, the environment, and even space by checking out the rest of our blog.

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