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5 Clever New Green Technologies
Sense Team

Ever take a look at your morning news feed and feel like everything’s going south? It’s a sensation we’re familiar with, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some really neat green technologies we’ve come across lately that have injected a spark of optimism into our day’s news.

1: Plastic-Eating Bacteria

Plastic buildup in the ocean is no joke, with massive piles of trash like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch only building year after year. However, two very bright young women recently came up with a possible solution.

Beginning in high school, Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao have been developing bacteria that can break polystyrene down into CO2 and water. Now, several years later, Wang and Yao, 22 and 21, have patented their bacteria and started their own company, BioCellection.

They envision travelling clean-up stations that could be filled with hundreds of thousands of liters of polystyrene to break down at a time, and hope to have a commercially viable process laid out within two years. We have our fingers crossed!


2: Project Sunroof–Making the Solar Decision Easy

project sunroof green technologies
Photo source: http://theawesomer.com/google-project-sunroof/332900/

Google-powered Project Sunroof comes from less humble beginnings, but is nevertheless exciting.

The idea is simple–make it easy for homeowners to know whether solar panels would work well with their home. Using aerial mapping, Project Sunroof can help homeowners scout their home for solar from the comfort of their couch.

Making the leap to solar can be intimidating–there’s a lot to consider, and it’s a big investment. So we’re glad that Project Sunroof is making at least one step along the switch to solar easier.

Project Sunroof coverage recently expanded from a small handful of cities to 42 states, making solar information accessible to some 43 million homes.


3. Ford is Making Plastic out of CO2

Ford is not a company you think of when you think “green tech,” but they’ve been hard at work trying to get green. For the last four years, Ford has been working on technology that captures the streams of CO2 leaving power plants, then turns that CO2 into foam and plastic that can be used in car manufacturing.

They expect that it will take five more years of R&D before they scale up the project and start replacing all of the petroleum based plastic in Ford cars with the CO2-made solution, but we’re still excited. Moving to the new product could reduce petroleum consumption by 600 million pounds per year, and reducing the amount of CO2 being released into the air is a bonus all by itself.

(Of course the real question is: can these new parts be eaten by bacteria?)


4. Wind Turbines of the Future

Wind power has great potential for renewable energy, but the fact is, the wind turbines themselves aren’t very convenient. They interfere with radar signals, the low droning noise of the turbines may be linked to health issues for humans living nearby, they’re expensive, and of course the occasional bird still smacks into them.

Suessian contraption green technologies

This Suessian contraption is an example of Invelox technology, and it’s meant to solve a wide variety of problems with wind turbines. Because the wind is processed into electricity within a tunnel, the turbine produces less noise pollution, doesn’t interfere with radar, and cannot smack a flying bird out of the air with a rotating blade. The company that produces Invelox also claims that it has fifty percent lower operation and maintenance costs. Finally, the design of these new-age turbines makes them much safer and easier to place inside cities.

These new turbines are currently a part of 15 wind power projects across the world, but if they work out, we’re hoping we’ll be hearing about them a lot more.


5. Putting Methane to Good Use…by Making Pottery Out of Cow Dung

Cow dung pottery

As many know, methane gas released from cow…droppings has a pretty impressive environmental impact. After CO2, methane is the most prevalent greenhouse gas released in the U.S., and 8% of that methane comes from manure alone. That’s a lot of methane!

One experiment out of Italy offers a unique way to make use of at least a few of those methane emissions. It’s called Merdacotta. It’s pottery–made out of poop.

Italian farmer Gianantonio Locatelli came up with the idea when he realized that the 2,500 cows on his farm were producing 100,000 kilograms of dung per day. (That’s 220,462.26 pounds, by the way.) So he bought a couple of “digesting” machines that could break the excrement down into its composite parts. It pulled the methane from the cows’ leavings, and instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, it used the methane for electricity instead. The machine then removed the urea from the dung, leaving behind a dry, odorless substance that could be combined with straw and clay to create pottery.

If you browse the Merdacotta catalog, you can find a variety of products, from tiles and flower vases, to cups and plates for the especially adventurous. Aside from its charming “earthy” look, Merdacotta is lighter and more resistant to cold than traditional terracotta, and fired at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit so that it’s safe for human consumption.

Maybe Merdacotta isn’t the solution to all of our methane woes, but you have to admit–it’s the most creative.

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