Science Animated x COP26
The main causes of climate change are deeply rooted in our use of fossil fuels; the impacts of climate change—water scarcity, sea level rise, extreme weather, biodiversity loss—are severe and global in scale. This means that the climate crisis is not only an environmental challenge, but a social, political, and economic challenge as well. A significant amount of creativity will be needed if we are to successfully redesign the way we produce and use energy, and rethink our unsustainable consumption of mass-produced, non-recyclable products.
With the COP26 climate conference well underway in Glasgow this week, we wanted to share five examples of how technology and innovation are being applied to solve these challenges. From carbon sequestration, managing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and championing the bioeconomy, to recalibrating the chemical engineering industry and overhauling plastics production, scientists are working hard to reimagine established processes and behaviours in their mission to secure a sustainable, liveable future for our planet.
Ocean Nourishment: Can phytoplankton help solve the climate emergency?
With the help of microscopic phytoplankton, the Earth’s oceans can draw-down vast amounts of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.
Ocean Nourishment Corporation (ONC) have pioneered a patented carbon-removal technique designed to enhance phytoplankton’s ability to absorb and export carbon dioxide to the deep ocean. The process works by targeting nutrient-deficient areas (ocean deserts) with ONC’s Ocean Plantfood formula, boosting phytoplankton growth, and therefore enhancing atmospheric CO2 removal.
To learn more about this large-scale, carbon sequestration project, visit http://www.oceannourishment.com/.
How can we decarbonize the chemical industry using electricity?
Chemical manufacturing produces materials which are found in over 95% of the goods we use every day. It is also an industry in urgent need of decarbonization. The petrochemical industry, for example, relies heavily on unsustainable, energy-intensive processes and emits 3 billion metric tonnes of CO2 every year, heavily contributing to climate change.
The Center for Decarbonizing Chemical Manufacturing Using Sustainable Electrification (DC-MUSE) aims to electrify the chemical manufacturing industry. By innovating manufacturing processes powered by renewable energy, their vision is to decarbonize the production of everyday products.
To learn more about how we can recalibrate traditional manufacturing, visit https://www.dc-muse.org/.
BIOSWITCH – Encouraging brand owners to switch to bio-based
The bioeconomy is founded on the use of biotechnology and biomass in the production of goods, services, and energy.
Switching from fossil-based to bio-based approaches comes with clear environmental and economic benefits. However, brand owners may be reluctant to make the switch due to perceived risks and uncertainties, and a lack of adequate support from innovation ecosystems.
BIOSWITCH aims to help brand owners take this leap. To learn more about the support they offer, visit https://www.bioswitch.eu.
How do you turn cattle manure into a valuable resource?
Cattle produce more greenhouse gasses than any other livestock species. As the global population continues to rise, the need to develop smart, sustainable ways to farm and process food becomes increasingly urgent. In response, GlasPortBio has developed GasAbate, an award-winning technology designed to reduce emissions from, and improve the nutrient value of, manures.
GasAbate inhibits microbial activity in manure, almost eliminating gaseous emissions and locking in nutrients. Cattle manure treated with GasAbate generates 95% less gaseous emissions. Additional benefits include significant increases in biogas and crop yield and a marked reduction in the need for mineral fertilisers.
To learn more about this game-changing technology, visit https://glasportbio.com/.
UPLIFT – PLASTICS H2020 PROJECT
Of the 78 million tonnes of plastics Europe produces annually, 40% are used in packaging, mainly for food, drink, and other consumer products. Recycling facilities are struggling to deal with challenging mixed materials and packaging that can’t be recycled is either burnt or sent to landfill – both highly polluting practices.
The UPLIFT project aims to address this problem in two meaningful ways, firstly, by developing new ways to upcycle waste materials currently considered ‘unrecyclable’, and secondly, by manufacturing new, renewable eco-polymers.
To learn more about UPLIFT’s contribution to the European Union Climate Target Plan, visit https://upliftproject.eu/.