As the planet is hastily running short of natural resources, communities are looking to waste as an asset. Anything from biochar to human excrement are now staples in energy production. To bring everything together, engineers have created the NEWgenerator, which processes materials found in sewage.
First, the waste is fed into a bioreactor, where anaerobic microorganisms break down the solids and produce biogas.
The methane produced is chemical-free and perfect for cooking and heating. To complete the cycle, USF engineers have also made the most of liquid and solid waste.
The water that passes through is… disinfected with chlorine, and while the end result is probably still not drinkable, it’s clean enough to use to flush the toilets in the block or irrigate crops.
The remainder of the waste can be used as fertilizer. So far, the system is testing waters in India and South Africa. Each device is usable for up to 100 people a day, with future versions projected to reach thousands. Considering that millions are without access to basic amenities, the NEWgenerator is a game-changer for marginalized communities.
So far in engineering realms, only Dyneema has given steel materials a run for their money. Now integrated into an everyday backpack, Dyneema is pushing researchers to develop more industrial-strength products. With sustainable options on the rise, wood is the first to make its way up the ladder. Owing it entirely to science, a newly developed “super wood” is 10 times stronger than its normal counterpart.
“It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter. It takes 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and moulded at the beginning of the process.”
The magic behind it is a simple treatment and heated compression process. Super wood will likely wriggle its way into buildings and even vehicles, as the material is practically bulletproof.
“It is particularly exciting to note that the method is versatile for various species of wood and fairly easy to implement,” says engineering scientist Huajian Gao.
The affordable process that requires no more than various liquids and most any type of wood is truly inventive. I wouldn’t mind an indestructible rocker in my living room to save on furniture expenses.
Now that society is beginning to fully realize the drawbacks of food waste, change is on the horizon. Establishments are not only donating leftover food to the needy — science is playing its part in the whole thing. From apples that don’t brown, Japanese farmers have developed a banana that consumers can eat in its entirety. And yes, that includes the peel.
The [Mongee] bananas are made using a pesticide-free cultivation technique called “freeze thaw awakening”, which involves replicating a process observed in the Ice Age by keeping the fruits in temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.
As a result, the bananas grow in less than half the time they normally would. Also, they taste much sweeter, an added bonus for sugar addicts avoiding health setbacks.
“The motivation for its development was the fact he (developer Setsuzo Tanaka) wanted to eat a banana that was delicious and safe: people can eat the peel because it is cultivated organically without chemicals.”
If you’re keen on munching on a Mongee banana outside of Japan, you’re well out of luck. They’re sold only in the Okayama Prefecture for about a cosmic $6 a piece. Now that’s bananas.