Some Optimism for the New Year (part 2)

From a Christian Science Monitor’s Dec. 30 article, "18 Leaps To Watch For..."

Sponsored Article from Person of the Planet- Shirley Lutzky

This is the concluding part of a Christian Science article on new developments that will make the world a better place. We have previously presented the first four of those developments, and here are five more, all of which will bring good for the environment, to briefly again quote the beginning of the article, the improvements in this list will

“... help make the world a safer, saner, and more prosperous place for the majority of us. Fueled by advances in electronics, software, and materials science as well as by the imaginativeness of researchers and inventors, a number of new technologies promise to help curb global warming and biodiversity loss, ease commutes, and stretch the planet's natural resources to feed and house the nearly 10 billion people who are expected to be sharing it by 2050. . .from rooftop fans that pull carbon dioxide from the air to 3-D printed homes to radical concepts in transportation...

5. Slicker Cities

In October, Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet, the company that owns Google, announced that it will commit $50 million to redesigning 12 acres of waterfront in Toronto as a “smart city.” Rechristened as Quayside, the neighborhood will be carpeted with sensors; road design will prioritize pedestrians, cyclists, and self-driving cars; and construction will emphasize prefabricated structures built with eco-friendly timber and plastic. If all goes well, the company will expand the project to 800 acres.

Billionaire Bill Gates is getting involved in the city-of-tomorrow movement, too. The former head of Microsoft plans to invest $80 million in a smart city on 25,000 acres on the western edge of Phoenix. Called Belmont, the community will include 80,000 homes.

“Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” says Belmont Partners, a real estate investment group that is developing the land.

Another futuristic city that will soon be getting more visibility, when the Olympics open in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February, is the Songdo International Business District. The 1,500-acre site, built on land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea 45 miles southwest of Seoul, features energy-efficient buildings, electric vehicle charging stations, and pneumatic waste-disposal systems.

6. Printing Homes

3-D printing has been used to create everything from jet airliner components to custom-fit shoes. Many experts say the process of turning digital files into three-dimensional objects could ultimately usher in a new industrial revolution. 

One of the latest manifestations of 3-D wizardry: building houses. It’s an application that could transform construction practices that have remained unchanged for centuries. 

Using a swiveling robotic arm that extrudes concrete, a San Francisco company, Apis Cor, 3-D printed the concrete walls for a 400-square-foot house in Russia in less than 24 hours in early 2017. And researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge have built a robotic arm and a vehicle that dispenses concrete for a 50-foot-diameter, 12-foot-high dome in less than 14 hours.

The technology could greatly speed up the construction of homes and reduce the waste. Construction refuse accounts for half of all solid waste in the United States. 

7. Purer Water

If you have a water filter in your refrigerator or on your kitchen faucet, you know it comes with one major drawback: The filter often has to be replaced.

Researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey have developed a way to clean water that may get around this problem: Infuse it with gas. It works by injecting carbon dioxide into a stream of water. When CO2 is dissolved in water, it creates ions that generate a small electric field. Because most contaminants have a surface charge, the electric field can split the stream into two channels, one carrying the contaminants and one containing clean water.

The researchers say that their method is 1,000 times as efficient as conventional filtration systems. They believe it could be useful in providing more sources of potable water in the developing world because of its low cost and low maintenance requirements. The technology could also find use in filtering water at desalination plants and water treatment facilities.

8. Wonder Wafer

Graphene has been heralded as the next wonder material. A form of carbon that consists of a single layer of atoms, it is stronger than steel, harder than diamond, lighter than paper, and more conductive than copper. 

It is currently being used in everything from electronics to high-tech tennis rackets. It may one day lead to smartphones as thin as paper that can be folded up and put in your pocket.

A team of physicists at the University of Sussex in England has for the first time combined silver nanowires with graphene to create a bendable, shatterproof touch screen. Because of graphene’s high conductivity, the screens could be more responsive and use far less power. They may be crucial to creating a new generation of credit-card-size phones.

9. Curbing Global Warming with Fans [last, but not least!]

Climate change is caused mostly by human activity emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Part of the solution may lie in extracting the harmful pollutants from the air – and then recycling them in useful ways.

That, at least, is what the Swiss company Climeworks is banking on. On the roof of a recycling center outside Zurich, Switzerland, 18 fans suck in the surrounding air. Chemically coated filters absorb the carbon dioxide. When they are saturated, the filters are heated to produce pure CO2, which is pumped into a nearby greenhouse where it helps vegetables grow bigger. Climeworks estimates that its fans are about 1,000 times as efficient as photosynthesis, which draws carbon out of the atmosphere and turns it into plant material.

Climeworks was the first to commercially capture CO2 from ambient air, but it is just one of many companies around the world pursuing carbon capture as a way of mitigating climate change. Carbon Engineering, backed by Bill Gates, is testing air capture at a facility in British Columbia. New York-based Global Thermostat has two pilot plants drawing CO2 from the air and power-plant flues.”

Please contact POP if you know about some more good developments in the works that will help our planet heal and thrive.