Every hour, the Earth is bathed in 430 quintillion Joules of energy from the solar. That is greater than the quantity of energy the entire of humanity consumes in a full yr. These staggering figures present the true potential of solar energy for innovation. And the makes use of of sunshine transcend solar farms and solar panels on home roofs.
Four of this month’s improvements use the solar as an energy supply for functions as diversified as city mobility and water disinfection. A brand new tiny home achieves carbon neutrality by means of in-built solar panels, whereas an electrical tuk-tuk can journey 10,000 kilometres per yr on solar energy alone. Meanwhile, a cleantech startup has a daring imaginative and prescient to place super-efficient, digitally printed solar cells on each shopper gadget, and a social enterprise has developed a tool that lets distant communities harness the UV rays in daylight to disinfect ingesting water.
Elsewhere, a supplies science firm has produced thermally environment friendly clothes that may assist to scale back home heating and cooling emissions and prices, whereas a route-planning app and web site makes it straightforward for travellers to seek out the greenest and most cost-effective method to attain their vacation spot.
A NEW GENERATION OF SELF-POWERED CARBON-NEUTRAL TINY HOMES
Photo supply Cosmic
The common American home emits round 6,400 kilos (2,903 kilogrammes) of carbon dioxide per yr in accordance with NPR. By distinction, tiny houses sometimes produce round 2,000 kilos (907 kilogrammes) of annual CO2 emissions. Now, US startup Cosmic has produced a tiny home design that it claims is carbon impartial.
The firm’s ultra-efficient houses begin at simply 350 sq. toes, however they arrive full of high-tech options that permit them to perform as each a main residence and a getaway bolt-hole. The secret to the design’s success is its standardised body, which incorporates built-in solar panels and batteries. Each tiny home additionally features a built-in roof and flooring, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing methods.
The modular design signifies that the homes may be assembled rapidly and simply, with out the necessity for building crews. And as a result of they’re optimised to be energy-efficient, they are often powered totally by renewable energy sources. Lithium-ion batteries retailer energy from the solar panels, with the choice to return any additional energy produced again to the grid.
SOLAR-POWERED TUK-TUKS COULD BE COMING TO A CITY NEAR YOU
Photo supply Infinite Mobility
Increasingly, these all for metropolis planning and energy saving have been mentioning that it simply doesn’t make sense to move folks or smaller quantities of products round city areas in conventional automobiles – even electrical automobiles. Cars are massive, heavy, and energy-intensive, and startup Infinite Mobility has developed an alternate – solar-powered tuk-tuks designed for last-mile deliveries, or to effectively carry only one or two folks.
The design for the streamlined solar tricycles incorporates solar cells into the automobile’s physique. And the diminutive measurement of the automobiles means they’re cheaper to provide and purchase than a four-wheeled automobile. Moreover, the tricycles can journey as much as 10,000 kilometres per yr on solar energy alone – sufficient for the common city person.
Infinite Mobility additionally factors out that the tuk-tuks don’t want recharging from the grid, eliminating one annoyance of EV possession. And there may be one other profit – relying on the place they’re based mostly, many micro-mobility automobile gross sales at the moment are supported by subsidies from native, regional, or nationwide governments.
SUPER-EFFICIENT SOLAR CELLS ARE DIGITALLY PRINTED TO FIT ANY DEVICE
Photo supply Perovskia
Cleantech firm Perovskia Solar combines inkjet printing with customised design to construct solar cells that match virtually any product. Designed for seamless integration into current units, the Perovskia solar cells work exceptionally properly even in low lighting situations.
Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral that, when utilized in a skinny movie as a semiconductor, converts solar energy to power very effectively. Using inexperienced nanoparticle inks, the Perovskia solar cells are digitally printed in a wide range of dimensions and shapes to suit sensible units resembling wearables, sensors, and IoT units.
As properly as being more cost effective than present photovoltaics, the corporate’s manufacturing course of is far more healthy for the atmosphere – producing far fewer emissions. Perovskia additionally supplies bespoke designs to assist companies create solar cells that match their tasks technically and visually.
DISINFECTING WATER WITH SUNSHINE
Photo supply HELIOZ
Around the world, 1.8 billion folks lack entry to secure ingesting water. To keep away from water-borne illness, these folks should deal with the water accessible to them earlier than they’ll drink it. But current remedy options are related to extra prices – each financial and environmental. Boiling water, specifically, causes carbon emissions and air air pollution.
But there may be one method to deal with water that entails no emissions and makes use of a free useful resource discovered in all places: daylight. Solar water disinfection (SODIS) is a course of the place the solar’s pure UV rays eradicate pathogens—resembling micro organism, viruses, and protazoa—from contaminated water uncovered to sunshine. The problem is figuring out when contaminated water has been uncovered for a ample size of time for the UV rays to have rendered it secure.
This is the place Austrian social enterprise HELIOZ is available in. The organisation has developed the WADI – a tool that visualises the method of SODIS in water containers resembling plastic and glass bottles. The WADI gadget, which might measure UV mild, is positioned alongside bottles of contaminated water uncovered to sunshine, in order that it receives the identical dosage of UV rays. It can then be used to measure when the bottles have acquired ample publicity to render them secure – outlined because the elimination of 99.99% of pathogens.
THERMALLY EFFICIENT T-SHIRTS REDUCE THE NEED FOR HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING
Photo supply Parker Burchfield on Unsplash
In the US, 38% of greenhouse gasoline emissions from residential housing are produced on account of heating and cooling rooms. In response, supplies science firm LifeLabs has developed a brand new era of thermally environment friendly textiles.
Wearers of the corporate’s CoolLife t-shirt expertise a continuous discount in physique temperature of three levels Fahrenheit, whereas the WarmLife jacket is billed as one of many warmest on the earth. The CoolLife and WarmLife ranges will help to scale back reliance on cooling and heating methods – each of which contribute important quantities of emissions. For instance, steady cooling of three levels of physique warmth could make an enormous distinction all through the day and evening, making it simpler to focus on the usage of HVAC methods for restricted quantities of time.
LifeLabs’ in-house manufacturing know-how saves water, warmth, steam, chemical substances, and plastic. The model’s preliminary product line is 74% recycled by material weight, and manufacturing enhancements have diminished water consumption by 70%.
ROUTE PLANNING FOR GREEN AND COST-EFFECTIVE TRAVEL
Photo supply Stefano Lombardo on Unsplash
While most individuals know that flying makes use of far more carbon than different types of mass transit, they’re prone to be much less conscious of the emissions to price ratio of different modes of transport. To make issues extra complicated, at the least in Europe, it’s typically troublesome to guide prepare tickets upfront when travelling by means of greater than two international locations, or to match emissions on totally different companies and routes.
To reduce by means of this confusion, startup Green Tickets has developed an app and web site that enables customers to rank transport choices by journey time, worth, and CO2 emissions. The firm’s purpose is each to make it as straightforward to guide a bus or prepare ticket as it’s to guide an airline ticket, and to offer transparency about emissions in a means that helps folks make extra knowledgeable selections.
To compile its knowledge, Green Tickets makes use of a wide range of sources, together with Google Maps for driving routes, open-source tasks for European trains, and the again workplace of Skyscanner for flight data. The knowledge permits customers to rapidly discover the optimum itinerary for every journey, based mostly on time of the yr, availability, price range, carbon emissions, and private preferences.
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