Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Three Inventions That Could Change Our World, By Not Changing Us

Today I thought I'd go in a different direction to usual. In the course of homeschooling, sometimes I come across really cool ideas when looking for lessons that I wouldn't otherwise have known anything about.

Wouldn't it be cool if we could fix the problems of global warming, not by cutting down on our lifestyle, but through replacing old products with new ones? Cheaper ones? More humane, more economic, safer products? Well. here are three that I think could rock our world.



1. Manufactured meat and leather. At present, livestock production produces 18% of human-induced  global warming. Dense stocking of livestock near population centres also leads to the transmission of dangerous virus strains between animal and human populations, like the H5N1 virus. What if there was a way to get meat and leather without raising and killing animals? Think it's sci-fi? Watch the video above from Andras Forgacs of Modern Meadow.

2. Cheap, high-powered batteries. One of the main problems with transitioning to renewable forms of energy is the problem of base-load power . This is because most renewables (with the exception of solar-thermal) are intermittent, but our use of power is not. One of the ways to solve this is to collect power and store it in batteries. The problem is that most batteries don't have the ability to cope with large voltages, and even when they do, they are generally made with hard-to-get rare earth metals ( lithium-ion batteries anyone?), with a tendency to 'vent-with-flames' if they get too hot. Well this team from MIT, lead by Donald Sadoway, have created batteries that don't use rare metals (so they're cheap), don't overheat, and can handle high-power loads. They already have a company set up - Ambri, so check them out or watch the video.

3. Biofuel that is carbon-negative. Yes, that's right. This fuel, developed by Cool Planet Energy Systems and currently being tested by Google. It's a fuel that over the life-cycle of growing and manufacturing, through to burning the end product actually takes CO2 out of the air. And it's designed to be used just like petrol. The biochar bi-product can also be used to enhance the productivity of agricultural land as well. Bonus! Check out their videos here for a quick introduction.


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