Today’s world has drastically changed from what it was a decade ago. We’ve advanced in many areas of life, like medicine, technology, travel, computer science and so on. This scientific breakthrough created our beloved smartphones, laptops, modern house technology, plasma TV’s, electric cars, anime and many others. Today, we are more capable, more innovative, and more creative than ever before in human history. Even though we advanced so much, we have degraded in other areas such as climate change, food and water shortage in some areas, terrorism, and discrimination.
We have so many opportunities, but at the same time, we have many challenges to tackle. Because of that, we greet any project, startup or an idea with our arms wide opened if they manage to somehow solve these world problems with their inventions. Without further ado, let me introduce you a cycle of articles about creative inventions that give us hope for the planet and restores faith in humanity. Today’s theme is inventions which makes earth a cleaner place – let’s dive in.
Before we start, let’s remember what Styrofoam is. Identified easily by recycling number six, Styrofoam is the trademarked name of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). This material is commonly used in food and shipping packaging because it’s lightweight and cheap to make. The main problem with Styrofoam is that it doesn’t degrade naturally over time, making it a great problem for landfills
Ashton Cofer’s team hypothesized that they could use the carbon from Styrofoam to create activated carbon, which is commonly used in water filters today. This substance has tiny micropores allowing it to filter not only water but even air. The plan was to heat carbon of Styrofoam enough to create active carbon. Young inventor did a variety of tests but failed. Even though everyone told him and his team that this is impossible, even after countless failures and many thoughts of giving up they finally did it. With the right temperature, time and chemicals, they successfully created activated carbon from Styrofoam waste. As Ashton Cofer said in his Ted Talk “And moreover, not only were we able to create activated carbon for purifying water, but we were also able to reduce Styrofoam waste, solving two global problems with just one solution”.
Mr. Trash Wheel
There are a lot of lakes, rivers, and part of oceans that are polluted with trash. That doesn’t mean that people are deliberately doing this, just to ruin the environment. But sometimes, we tend to forget to clean after ourselves when we are in the parks, or somewhere near water. Trash that is not responsibly packed and thrown, can end up in the local lake or river, just because of the wind. So, one way of dealing with this problem is to fight with littering.
Another way is picking them all up. The problem is that the process itself is time-consuming and needs lots of manpower to accomplish. That’s why John Kellett took the initiative in his hands and created Mr. Trash Wheel. The invention is officially called Inner Harbor Water Wheel. Mr. Trash wheel is a trash interceptor, a water-wheel vessel that removes trash from the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. It collects all the waste and places them inside of his vessel. The best thing is that it is powered by clean energy – water power and solar power.
The Floating Vacuum – Seabin Project
The next invention does the same exact thing like Mr. Wash wheel. The only difference is that the creators managed to solve the same problem of water waste, using other methods. The creators were surfers from Perth, Australia and they managed to make a vacuum cleaner for the ocean.
This invention consists of a cylinder that floats upright with one end sitting on the water’s surface, and then a water pump on the shore creates a flow of water into the bin, bringing rubbish with it. When the cylinder catches waste, then the water is pumped back into the sea. According to the inventors, these sea trash bins can be left running for 24 hours straight and it is simple to empty them.
The Massive Air Filter – Smog Free Tower
Another great today’s problem is air pollution. In some parts of the world, the air is so polluted, that if you put a white t-shirt in the morning, you end up with a grey one at the end of the day. Imagine the health issues made by this problem. This air pollution is produced mainly by car engines and factories, still running on fossil fuel. That means the bigger the city is, the bigger the air pollution results.
That’s why Dan Roosegaarde took initiative for this problem and created a 23-feet tall air filter. The Smog Free Tower invention, works like a vacuum cleaner, just like the Floating Vacuum we talked earlier. It sucks up smog and purifies it, releasing filtered air back to the environment. The tower is able to clean 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour. What is more, that it is also powered by the green energy of 1,400 watts. Also, this invention can make jewelry! This works by compressing carbon particles inside smog into a smog cube, which can be used and will be used to create smog-free jewelry and thus showcase the Smog Free Tower.
Mexico City’s highway pillars – Via Verde
Another invention wanted to clean air pollution as well but chose a different approach to the problem. Instead of solving air pollution alone, they wanted to make their city more ecological, more beautiful and greener. Therefore Via Verde was born. A project striving to turn 1,000 highway pillars into vertical gardens. Special plant “pockets” are installed on the Highway pillars, where then different kinds of plants are planted. Then, the hydroponic system collects rainwater to cover its needs. At the same time, each garden has sensors installed, allowing for remote monitoring. Not only it’s a relatively cheap and eco-friendly solution to the problem. It also greatly glamorizes the city with greenish colors.