By: Chan Jia Yu
These headlines offer only a glimpse into the urgency of this issue, because the truth is, the longer we wait, the harder it is to tackle this problem. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while the impacts of climate change will be felt globally, experts recognise that Asia will be among the hardest hit.
Fortunately, green technology projects in Asia are stepping up. Here’s a rundown of some of the most exciting new prospects for green tech in Asia.
Turning biological waste products into electricity is not a new concept, but Husk Power Systems has made good use of this technology to solve several issues concurrently. They have developed a proprietary biomass gasification system which uses biomass waste (such as maize and rice husks) to generate electricity. Moreover, the waste product of this process — rice husk char — can be used to make incense sticks. Talk about zero waste!
The company specifically provides energy to households in rural areas of India, as they cannot afford other types of clean energy and thus rely on more traditional and polluting energy products. By meeting their energy demands, this venture not only reduces the consumption of non- renewable energy sources like oil and gas; rural households will also be able to enjoy a higher quality of life.
By their estimates, Husk Power Systems have reduced carbon dioxide production by 15,000 tonnes per year and supplied electricity to 12,000 households, and plan to optimise their energy production even further in the next five years.
Transkinect is a Singapore-based startup that created a revolutionary system called Movnetic. Movnetic technology is centered around the kinetic energy lost from vehicles. Humps embedded in roads will absorb kinetic energy from moving vehicles (usually when they decelerate or brake), converting it into clean energy. This energy is then collected and distributed through Movnetic, and the power generated and used is monitored automatically.
This reduces our dependence on natural resources like oil and gas, making it a sustainable yet cost effective power generator. Transkinect is currently backed by several government agencies, which is a good sign of Singapore’s commitment towards clean and green energy.
Every year, approximately 250 billion PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are discarded globally. PET is not biodegradable, and thus it is in our best interests to either recycle or avoid using PET bottles. Polygenta offers a solution with a process that can de-polymerise used PET back into polyester fibre, which can in turn be used to make yarn. In short, they make clothes out of plastic bottles.
Considering how PET takes hundreds of years to decompose via photodegradation in a landfill, this process could potentially reduce the amount of methane released from landfills, buying us precious time to save the environment.
Have you ever heard of carbon nanotubes? They are basically tiny cylinders of carbon atoms; widely used in batteries and electronics, and can also be used as additives to enhance the strength of concrete. They have a large variety of uses as they are light, strong, and good conductors of electricity. They are 10,000 times thinner than human hair, but don’t let that fool you… they can be up to 100 times stronger than steel!
The concept of recycling plastic into carbon nanotubes was first made possible in 2009, but the use of this technology has been limited partly because the process is costly and produces toxic by-products. However, with groundbreaking research from scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), an eco-friendly method to achieve this is now a reality.
Recycling typically involves taking low-value waste and converting it into a product of similar or lower value, but this technology upcycles the plastic into high-value products. Having received a grant to develop and scale up this technology for commercialisaton, the future of BlueRen technology looks promising.
The Ganges River is one of the largest rivers in the world, with over 400 million people depending on the river for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, it is also extremely polluted with industrial and human waste.
This Delhi-based startup is working to clean up the river. Omnipresent Robot Tech Pvt. Ltd. developed an unmanned water vehicle called the Ro-Boat that can detect and collect waste. It mostly operates on the surface of water, but it can completely submerge itself if necessary.
The Ro-Boat has successfully undergone testing, and is capable of collecting 600kg of waste in just 12 hours! It requires minimal human input, and is powered by solar panels which do not produce emissions. The company is also developing drones that can identify pollution above and relay the information to the Ro-Boat.
Now, cleaning up rivers is necessary to reduce the existing pollutants, but what of the new waste being generated daily? Praj Industries is offering a solution. Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) technology is a process that treats all wastewater from industrial facilities without dumping any of it into rivers.
These ZLD units benefit not only the environment, but also the economy. The treated wastewater and some other components used in the process can be sold and reused. ZLD is just one of the projects the company has to offer — they also offer several other innovative, sustainable solutions in areas related to energy, bio-products and the environment.
We are all responsible for acting on climate change, and it is heartening to see numerous technologies being developed to this end. Various initiatives in Asia such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the CleanEnviro Summit are supporting the development of sustainable technology, and working to curb the pollution levels of Asian industries. Their efforts are slowly but surely making a difference. Let us also play our part as individuals, and together, we can beat the clock and secure our future.