These 5 Inventions Could Help Save Earth
Updated: 5 days ago
From capturing green energy to creating habitats for young sea life, the inventors behind these inventions have been recognised in the 2022 European Inventor Awards for their creativity and innovation.
Change can only happen when people come together! That’s why some of the world’s most talented scientists, engineers, and young inventors have set out to create the future they want through the new inventions they design.
These five inventions show immense promise in tackling global environmental issues, and have all been nominated for the 2022 European Inventor Awards. From creating solar-powered islands to monitoring changes in the climate, these inventions offer a ray of hope for a greener future.
As countries around the world continue to search for sources of renewable energy, many are finding it in the form of floating solar farms or solar arrays. A Portuguese team of innovators has developed and launched Solaris Float, a series of islets equipped with photovoltaic panels that are designed to tilt and follow the sun, in order to maximise efficiency and produce up to 40% more electricity than traditional, non-moving systems. Constructed from 100% recycled materials, this autonomous system is designed with sustainability in mind. After the array’s life, the materials can be recycled and reused, thus reducing their overall environmental impact even further.
Nuno Correia and Carla Gomes, along with their colleagues, are responsible for creating Solaris Float's technology, and it has the potential to help both countries and companies alike generate cleaner energy in the future, while also preserving valuable land space.
The coolest part? Floating solar installations can have a positive impact on water ecosystems as well by cooling the water and preventing the growth of algae. Algae blooms can deplete oxygen levels in the water and produce toxins that are harmful to humans, animals, and plant life. Sustainable power and healthier waterways? Sign everyone up!
ECOncrete was invented by Israeli scientists Ido Sella and Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, and is the world’s first proven bio-enhancing concrete!
It was made to replace common coastal construction materials like concrete or quarry rock, which are too dense for microorganisms and marine life to make a home in, and that can contain chemicals that leach into the water, leading to chemical imbalances and low biodiversity in the surrounding area.
ECOncrete remedies this by mimicking natural coastal features, and is designed with the necessary ridges, crevices and pores required for marine plant and animal life to take hold. It also contains natural additives that prevent harmful chemicals from leaking into the water surrounding the structures, allowing life to flourish. This ability to create a hospitable environment also creates a defensive layer of organisms like coral or crustacea, which help to buffer the force of ocean waves and protect the coastline from erosion, and overall reduces the environmental footprint of infrastructures like sea walls, ports, and marinas.
ECOncrete has already been used to improve marine ecosystems in over 10 countries so far, and we hope to see this technology used in even more infrastructure projects worldwide very soon!
Frédérick Pasternak’s Weather Satellite
A new invention by a French scientist is set to change weather forecasting and climate modelling forever. Frédérick Pasternak, an aeronautical engineer at French sustainable aerospace company Airbus, has spent 10 years working on a new instrument that is expected to provide more accurate and reliable data for weather and climate forecasts, known as the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer or IASI.
This tool will help scientists to better understand the complex interactions between the atmosphere, land, and ocean that affect our planet's climate, and will allow us to obtain more accurate data when measuring the composition of gases in the atmosphere, leading to better climate science models and weather predictions. Launching into orbit in 2024, this important invention will help countries, meteorologists, and climate scientists potentially protect more people from extreme weather events in the future.
Two billion tonnes of solid waste are generated globally every year, and the incineration or disposal of this waste creates an ever-growing environmental problem! Victor Dewulf of Belgium and Peter Hedley of the UK have found one solution to this massive problem: to create an artificial intelligence-driven plastic-waste sorting system known as Recycleye.
Using computer vision, Recycleye Vision scans and identifies waste materials in a materials recovered facility (similar to a recycling centre) in order to remove them from the waste stream and sort them for reuse.
This technology is just as accurate as a human eye and can detect materials in 28 different categories! It can even detect and differentiate colours and shapes, food and non-food, and packaging and non-packaging materials, even at brand levels!
Starting from it’s humble beginnings as just a treadmill, a camera, and some recycled materials, Recycleye’s computer vision system now uses it’s AI mind and a robotic arm to accurately identify recyclables so that they can increase the usability of recycled waste bales.
This means that there are fewer non-recyclables mixed in with the items that are actually recyclable, preventing wishcycling from wreaking havoc on recycling processes! So far, Recycleye has deployed 17 vision systems and 5 robotic arms across Europe, exhibiting how AI can be used to solve a real world problem in an efficient way.
Biodegradable Period Products
Rafaella de Bona Gonçalves is on a mission to make sustainable, low-cost period products accessible to disadvantaged groups around the world. A student of the Brazilian Federal University of Parana in Curitiba, her idea came from a course she was taking where students had to choose one of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and design an idea around it.
Inspired by the homeless women she saw in the streets of her home city, Rafaella started developing sanitary pads out of inexpensive, environmentally friendly materials. Using a bamboo liner, cellulose, soy foam, and banana waste fibre, Gonçalves's biodegradable, plant-based pads and tampons are designed to combat period poverty, a global issue affecting around 500 million people every month who don't have adequate access to sanitary products, washing facilities, and waste management systems.
Gonçalves's pads and tampons are currently being given to homeless women in her community, but she also plans to sell them on a buy-one-give-one basis globally through EcoCiclo, a Brazilian women-led online marketplace for sustainable and women-made products.
Truly an amazing inventor, Rafaella is a great example of how ingenuity and compassion come together to fuel the development of new solutions that help change the world.
It's clear that innovation and technology are important tools in the fight against climate change, but what's even more important is having people and communities working to care for our planet and its many inhabitants. The intention makes the invention, and we must continue to recognise and support those who are inventing a better tomorrow for all of us.