Green technology is on the rise — there are amazing green innovations happening all over the world helping us to live more sustainably. From plastic roads to clothes made from wasted milk, discover our five favourite green technology projects.
If you feel inspired by these innovators and want to be more energy efficient at home, you can find out more on our energy efficiency pages.
Organic solar film
German company Heliatek has developed a way to manufacture solar panels that are ultra thin, flexible and truly green.(1) The solar film they've produced can be easily applied to windows, roofs and even cars. They've successfully applied it to the company headquarters and generate energy from the film that's applied to the windows of the Heliatek offices. See where else they're piloting their solar film on their pilot projects page.The film they've created can also be easily recycled at the end of its lifespan. This could be a new, easier to install alternative to solar panels.
Clothing from waste milk
Anke Domaske's company Qmilk is producing 100% natural fibre clothing from waste milk. In Anke's native Germany up to 1.9 million tons of milk is wasted each year. Qmilk's innovative 'upcycling' process turns this waste into silky smooth, skin-friendly polymer fibres. The production process uses only two litres of water per kg of fibre. By comparison, it takes up to 2,700 litres of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt.(2)
Wooden computer chips
As an alternative to the global problem with recycling electronic equipment, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a way to make modern microprocessors from a wood-based material called CNF (cellulose nanofibril). These microprocessors are totally biodegradeable and with over 50 million metric tons of old smartphones, PCs, TVs and other devices discarded last year, this is a great way to tackle that problem. By replacing the bulk of toxic and non-biodegradable materials in modern microprocessors with organic material, this technology could vastly reduce the level of waste associated with consumer electronics.(3)
As well as post-consumer waste issues, plastic bottles rely heavily on fossil fuels for their production, require massive amounts of energy and consequently have a considerable carbon footprint. A professor and chemist called Gert-Jan Gruter from Amsterdam started a company called Avantium who developed a plant-based bioplastic from industrial sugars. The plastic requires no petrochemicals, is completely recyclable and cuts CO2 emissions by up to 70%. This innovation won Gruter the European Inventor Award 2017. Read more about Gert-Jan's awesome new alternative to plastic in this press release.
To solve two problems of pot-holes in our roads and also the amount of waste plastic we create globally, UK company Macrebur have a great solution. They've been busy developing ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels used in paving our roads by replacing bitumen with waste plastic in the asphalt mix. As well as creating a cost-effective and harder wearing driving surface, Macrebur's® MR products can reduce the amount of plastic in landfill and our oceans as well as reducing the amount of bitumen leaching into rivers and streams.(4)
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