Technology is the driving force behind the dynamic green revolution that sweeps across the global landscape. And if we take a closer look and scratch beneath the surface, we can notice the amazing workings of engineering and tech prowess.
They promise to solve the great environmental plight of our time, despite sluggish progress in many industry sectors and traditional reluctance of governments. Still, it is a daunting task to correct the fundamental flaw in our relation to nature and change the trajectory that our development follows.
Clean core of technology
We have moved past cleaning technologies to the new frontier of clean technologies. End-of-pipe tech has been efficient in reducing pollution, but this no longer cuts it. We must go an extra mile and rely on tools that alter the core of the production process. That way, we address the root of the problem and ensure that there is minimal toxicity and waste to begin with.
Process technologies that require less energy, water, and raw materials or those that involve fewer waste discharges are expected to come into the spotlight. We are talking about options such as alternative drying techniques, solvent-free inks and paints, detection and separation machinery as well as flue-gas cleaning and filtration systems.
The fabric of new business
The fashion and textile industry is considered the second largest polluter on our planet, after the oil industry. Yet, even in the world of aesthetics and vanity, dramatic changes take place. The marriage of fashion and technology has given rise to the application of sensors, batteries, and cloud computing. Moreover, waterless dyeing technology is a major leap forward.
Namely, new machines harness carbon dioxide, which is heated and heavily compressed to the point that it becomes supercritical (a state between gas and liquid). Consequently, it acts as both a solvent and solute, allowing color pigments to penetrate way quicker into fibers without the use of chemicals and salts. There is no water discharge and it is estimated that the energy expenditure is reduced by 50%.
Soaked in new light
Residential and commercial buildings are responsible for a staggering amount of pollution and energy waste, but this is bound to change. Technology moves at a breakneck speed and many people find it hard to keep up the pace. Take LED lighting as an example, a solution that uses semiconductor diodes. The electrons combine with the holes within the device and release energy in the form of protons.
Furthermore, companies like Industralight prove that it is possible to blend energy efficiency with striking design and get the best of both worlds. In the meantime, the technology does not rest. Nobel Prize winner Shuji Nakamura advocates violet LEDs that apply gallium nitride on the base of more gallium nitride (GaN-on-GaN). He also aspires to revolutionize the LED worlds with the “wonder material” ‒ graphene.
The weakest and strongest links
The business sector is not overly eager to adapt to the winds of change, misleadingly believing that sustainability erodes the competitive advantage. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs know better and focus on reconfiguring their supply chains. They use amazing tools such as enterprise carbon management, life-cycle assessment, and carbon and energy footprint analysis.
Life-cycle assessment, for instance, captures all inputs and outputs of the value chains, including raw-material consumption, distribution, disposal, and product use. The data represents the glue that holds this novelty system together and it takes two forms: unit process data and environmental input-output data. At last, ongoing and real-time data collection is the future of this tech and the key to unlocking its full value.
A fresh restart
Technology is the mainspring of sustainable practice and thinking. However, what needs to take place is an all-encompassing, dramatic change of the paradigm, transformation of the tech infrastructure. There is no other way to move forward than to redesign the production process in order to mitigate the ecological damage both during manufacture and consumer use.
We are yet to face the underlying cause of our predicament and escape the spiral of temporary or halfway technical fixes. And as we break new ground with technology, and the social climate shifts, we must hope that the missing ingredient, the political will, is soon to follow suit.