TECH & TREND | Have you heard of these Circular Economy applications?

tt

01 CIRCULAR ECONOMY

1.1 A Sustainable Lithium Battery Storage Ecosystem

Renewable energy is the cornerstone when we try to ‘Build Back Better’ after the pandemic. But due to their intermittency, renewable energy technologies need the support of battery storage for when the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing.

Battery storage is vital. However, the lithium-ion or lead-acid batteries traditionally employed are usually welded or glued together, making individual components difficult to replace. If one part fails, the whole battery is usually thrown away – often with more than 80% of its potential life left unused.

We can gain a lot of benefits by applying the circular economy model to the lithium battery. By being able to repair, repurpose and reuse the components within the battery pack prior to recycling, it is possible to maintain and service batteries rather than replace them, reducing both waste and cost over time

Source:energy-storage.news
What’s more, circular economy batteries also support the green jobs sector. The UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has recently called for a ‘green jobs revolution’ to spearhead the country’s economic recovery. Fostering battery repair specialists in the same way that the repair garage sector works for vehicles, would support the growth of a skilled employment market centred around energy and clean technology.
 
By utilising innovative solutions like circular economy batteries, we can support the creation of an energy industry that delivers accessible, clean and reliable energy, supports the creation of green jobs and doesn’t exacerbate future waste. 
 
Source: www.energy-storage.news
1.2 Circular Economy Furniture Startup Designs its Couches for Rental and Reuse

Around 12 million tons of furniture ends up in landfills in the U.S. each year. A startup called Feather wants to change that by shifting ownership: instead of selling furniture, the company rents it out. When someone moves or wants a different sofa, he or she can send it back, and the company will clean and repair the furniture and rent it to someone else.

Source: Sustainability Google
All products are designed to be as durable as possible, and easy to clean or repair. Instead of a glossy finish on wood components, for example, the designers chose a natural finish so scratches can be buffed out. And some components use a powder coating so they can be touched up. Fitted fabric covers for easy replacement, sofa legs that work on different models for simple stocking, and rug made from recycled PET bottles for easy cleaning are all examples of their circular economy design application.
The company represents larger changes in the industry. Other startups are also focusing on furniture rental, though not always for sustainability reasons. Even Ikea is shifting to a circular model, recognizing that it’s necessary for it to reach its climate goals, and beginning to experiment with furniture rental and repair. 
Source: https://www.fastcompany.com

02 NEW MATERIAL

2.1 Turning Fibrous Waste from Palm Oil into New Material
Bosnian designer Nataša Perković recycled the fibrous waste from palm oil factories to create the Reclaimed Oil Palm collection, which was made using as little material as possible. Comprising a 3D-printed, stackable chair, three plates and a pendant lamp, the collection was developed in a bid to turn the by-products of the palm oil industry from an “environmental nuisance” into a sustainable material.
Source: dezeen
A mixture of high-tech and low-tech production methods were used when creating the products in order to demonstrate the diversity of the material. The high-tech approach was used to create the chair, which involved blending oil palm tree fibre micro powder with polylactic acid (PLA) – a bioplastic made from lactic acid – to form a new composite material. This composite can then be made into filament for 3D printing, or alternatively as pellets for injection moulding. If produced on an industrial scale, the chair would be made using injection moulding. Perković’s model adopted the 3D printing method.
Low-tech production methods were used to demonstrate how the waste material could be used to create household objects like bowls, plates and lamps. Perković and her team experimented with traditional paper-making and compression moulding techniques to create the items: soaking, boiling, beating and then finely shredding the oil palm fibre. According to the designer, this low-tech process of repurposing waste oil palm fibre using basic kitchen equipment and minimal energy could be adopted in developing countries using other cellulose waste fibres such as wood or bamboo.
Source: www.dezeen.com
2.2 Wool for PPE Masks
图源: printed electronics world
A company from New Zealand is working to develop a biodegradable face mask made of wool, to protect users against COVID-19. The company, Lincoln Agritech, is a research and development company owned by Lincoln University. The research will use newly-developed technology that completely changes the physical form of the wool fibre, creating light and paper-like membranes that look and feel much more like the PPE masks we typically see mass-produced. Dr Kelly, the new materials group manager at Lincoln Agritech, said wool was an ideal material for the filtration and binding needed to develop PPE, but its coarse structure could present limitations.

It will go towards an 18-month research programme that uses patented technology from the Wool Research Organisation (WRONZ) to change the physical format of the fibre and improve its absorption and virus-neutralising properties. The masks would be both highly effective and environmentally sustainable. The new format also enhanced the absorbency and binding properties of wool, making the fibre even more suitable for PPE use.

Source: www.msn.com

2.3 Cement-free Alternative to Conventional Concrete

Concrete is a vital cog in modern infrastructure projects. While it may have become indispensable to major developments, concrete also has a significant impact on the environment. Concrete is made by combining water, a material like sand or crushed gravel – known as aggregate – and, importantly, cement, and it’s this component that has a considerable environmental impact. According to a 2018 report from Chatham House, over 4 billion metric tons of cement are produced annually. This, according to the policy institute, accounts “for around 8 percent of global CO2 emissions.”

Source:Jung Getty
 Around the world, efforts are being made to develop new techniques and processes to reduce the environmental effects of our reliance on concrete: 
Earlier this month an Australian firm, Boral, announced the launch of a five-year partnership with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The company stated this partnership would look to “accelerate product innovation and the research, development, and commercialisation of low carbon concrete.” 
A Netherlands-based firm says its “WasteBasedBricks” are produced “from a minimum of 60% waste” and “suitable for interiors and exteriors.” 
Source:DB Group
In the U.K., the DB Group has developed Cemfree, which it describes as a “totally cement-free alternative to conventional concrete.” To date, the material has been used in a number of settings, including part of the M25, a major motorway in the south of England.
Another firm working in the area of sustainable building products is Kenoteq, a start-up spun out from research carried out at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. The firm has developed a brick produced from what it describes as “90% recycled construction and demolition waste.
Source: www.cnbc.com

03 CLEAN TECHNOLOGY

3.1 An Israeli start-up Turning Harmful Wastewater into Renewable Energy

Seeking to bring the field of wastewater treatment into the 21st century, and to embrace the popularity of circular economy technologies, Shfar’am-based AgRobics has developed a new “bio-stabilizer” technology that both improves wastewater treatment and collects biogas for energy production from the microorganism-rich waste.

Source: AGROBICS
 The start-up’s patented technology, backed by national water company Mekorot, features a combination of ancient bacteria and modern engineering. Archaea, some of the earliest forms of anaerobic life on the planet, are attached to a new type of reactor.
When wastewater is transported through the reactor, the bacteria swallows up the pollutants, cleans the water, and excretes “valuable biogas” that can be harnessed to produce renewable energy. The technology has been successfully tested at wastewater treatment sites in Karmiel and Netufa, and at a food plant in southern Israel.
While the solution could be of vital importance for industry and municipalities in developed countries, Prof. Sabbah, co-founder of AgRobics, emphasizes the potential of the circular economy approach for developing nations. “With AgRobics, communities can have reused water – and fertilizer – for agriculture, and clean energy for the residents to use.”
Source:www.jpost.com

04 TECHNOLOGY FOR GOOD

4.1 The Future of Philanthropy Lies in Blockchain Technology
The past decade has produced an eruption in diverse giving channels and options for donating, changing the patterns of how people give. According to Blackbaud, online giving has shown steady increases, growing from 6.4% of all giving in 2013 to 8.5% in 2018. Hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies have been donated as well, with notable donations including over $100 million to Fidelity Charitable, $29 million to DonorsChoose, $4 million to The Ellen Degeneres Wildlife Fund and many more.
Source:coindesk.com
From industry startups designing programs that make donating cryptocurrency easier, to charities being more receptive to actually taking those donations, there is a general consensus that the future of philanthropic cryptocurrency ventures is a bright one.
Up until now, cryptocurrencies have been used in numerous ways to support charities and giving, including the launch of The Pineapple Fund, an anonymous fund that was able to rally over $55 million in Bitcoin that was then donated to charities. Recent studies about Bitcoin within the charity sector also reflect that cryptocurrency donations represent 1%–5% of the payment methods used for charitable donations, with over 100% growth in some countries, according to Funraise and Nonprofit Tech for Good’s 2019 “Global NGO Technology Report.”
Source:cointelegraph.com
The most recent real-life use case for cryptocurrencies and charitable donations came in early January when the COVID-19 pandemic saw nations and communities facing shortages of personal protective equipment and medical support and having an overall need for immediate assistance.
The Stellar Development Foundation launched a program to match donations given in Stellar Lumens (XLM), which was powered by Stellar-based Lumenthropy, a fundraiser that supports charitable organizations. Additionally, The Giving Block announced the start of the #CryptoCOVID19 alliance, and Paxful launched the “Africa Fund” to ensure PPE, supplies, water and other necessities were provided to communities throughout Africa.
By further incorporating both blockchain technology and cryptocurrency donations into the philanthropy sector, we will see various improvements, from the ability to track how a charity is actually using its donations if completed on the blockchain to adding another level of transparency helping to source out corruption.
Source: cointelegraph.com