These days, the challenge of sustainability elicits many different creative responses: leather out of wine, air purifiers made of algae, even energy from cow and turkey poop. Truly the stranger, the better. A new project from an Indian startup company makes the sun and the wind come together to create water. How does that sentence make sense? Uravu answers our question.
The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India. “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.”
The process of producing water from vapor has already been developed and utilized before, mostly for industrial and agricultural purposes, but the outdated versions of this technology had to consume large amounts of energy and humidity—innovative, yes, but not yet as sustainable as the above-mentioned Aqua Panels. Uravu wants their device to suit domestic use.
“Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity, such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.”
Ultimately, the Indian company aims to make the process more simple to make it more accessible for people who lack resources. Sustainability takes many different forms, but surely it is best when it answers to society’s greatest needs.
Who needs retail therapy when you have 3D printing? From furniture to electronics, the process has surpassed its own limits in just a few years. Now that brain tissue and functioning ears are part of 3D-printing catalogues, why not up the grandeur? Thanks to startup ICON, it’s totally possible to zap a 650 square foot home into existence in just under 24 hours.
“We have been building homes for communities in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia,” [says] Alexandria Lafci, co-founder of New Story.
“It’s much cheaper than the typical American home,” [founder Jason] Ballard says.
ICON spends a modest $10,000 printing a single home, and aims to lower costs down to $4,000. The Austin-based group will initially bring houses into El Salvador and eventually the Americas. The modern huts will slash labor costs and produce minimal waste.
“(ICON) believes, as do I, that 3D printing is going to be a method for all kinds of housing,” [co-founder Alexandria Lafci] says.
If ICON can come up with affordable space habitats, I’d be the first off the planet.
As electric vehicles increase in sustainability, they also decrease in parts. Built with only 580 components, the XYT eco car is tiny, but in every way efficient. Banking on the “less is more” theme of newer hybrids, Swedish group Uniti has treats in store for its buyers. Along with its “smartphone car”, the startup is throwing in five years of free electricity for eager consumers.
“Today, there are many new possibilities,” Tobias Ekman, Uniti’s innovation manager, said… “The car and the driving experience has been digitalized in order to increase safety, comfort, and driving pleasure while minimizing environmental impact.”
At $17,560, its features seem entirely worth it — and some 1,000 preordering customers can vouch for that. The car is a jack of all trades, seating up to five passengers and running 185 miles on one charge. The fun apparently doesn’t end there.
It’s optimized for urban and highway driving; and has an auxiliary battery that can be removed for indoor charging, or charged while still inside the vehicle.
Could Uniti’s brainchild be the iPhone of all vehicles? Seems likely.
Realizing the effects of climate change has encouraged new methods of producing clean energy. Kenya is turning human waste into cooking fuel. Michelin is manufacturing an airless, biodegradable tire. Now, an Italian startup is distributing an eco-box that provides water and power to remote areas across the world.
The box itself is a simple container, measuring six by six by six feet. With solar panels on top and water treatment inside, it can help remote communities with both off-grid energy and easily accessible filtered water.
Off Grid Box’s container can provide an entire family of four with filtered water for just 12 cents. A single unit can distribute battery packs to nearly 300 families. Each pack can run three LED lights for up to 4 hours and fully charge two mobile phones.
The new business model is getting a thorough test in Rwanda, where the startup plans to install units in 18 villages. The government has commissioned 14 contractors to work on rural electrification, and Off Grid Box is partnered with three of them so far. By 2020, it hopes to be serving 420,000 end-customers.
The company has yet to find its rhythm in terms of sales, but Off Grid Box’s future looks bright. Conceivably, it’s time for big buyers to care less about trivial machines and start thinking about the technology poorer communities need.