Climate change is a grave issue, but technology is paving the way towards a sustainable future. At a time when environmentally-conscious practices couldn’t be more crucial, more and more companies are taking steps to go green. Industries across the board are becoming more eco-friendly with the help of intelligent technology.
While individual contributions to green living are necessary, most of the responsibility in environmentalism lies with corporations. Thankfully, recent breakthroughs have made green business practices more practical. As technology continues to advance, industrial activity will likely grow all the more sustainable.
Environmentally-friendly tech adoption has exploded in the past couple of years. Here are just nine of the new technologies that are leading to green industries.
1. Energy-Efficient Data Centers
Most people may not think of computers as sources of pollution. While they may not emit any toxic gasses as they work, they do require a lot of electricity, and most power sources are fossil fuels. The data centers that host business servers contribute to millions of tons of pollution from the energy they consume.
Many businesses are now switching to energy-efficient data centers. These organizations use advanced servers that require less energy or rely on renewable sources of electricity to minimize their carbon footprint.
2. Cloud Computing
Sustainable data centers are not the technology industry’s only eco-friendly advancement. The rise of cloud computing allows any computer-based business to operate with reduced energy consumption and emissions.
Traditional computing methods require substantial physical infrastructure to work. Manufacturing and shipping these parts generates a considerable amount of pollution — and running them consumes energy. Cloud computing reduces the hardware needed to operate and requires less frequent upgrades, so businesses don’t have to order new equipment as often. The decrease in devices also means companies use less electricity.
Technology has made it possible for some people to work without having to come into an office. Telecommunication tools, like file sharing and video conferencing, allow employees to complete tasks from home. By clocking in remotely, people don’t have to commute, reducing their carbon emissions.
As more companies adopt these technologies, more employees will be able to work remotely. The number of people who work from home is already on the rise, with a 4% increase from 2012 to 2016. Remote work has seen the most growth in the finance, real estate and insurance industries.
4. Intelligent Construction Machinery
The construction industry has historically contributed a substantial amount to pollution. Long hours and extensive use of heavy equipment have led to considerable emissions and energy consumption. Smart green tech is changing that.
Tools like intelligent asphalt compactors enable construction crews to operate with greater efficiency. In turn, this productivity cuts down runtime, which leads to less electricity usage and fuel consumption. Increased efficiency benefits construction companies by both saving them money and reducing their environmental impact.
5. Clean Chimneys
Manufacturing companies typically generate considerable emissions. Some manufacturers seek to solve this issue with greener fabrication methods, but they might also be able to clean their exhaust as it’s emitted. A high-tech chimney in China, for example, serves as an air purifier rather than adding to pollution. The chimney takes in contaminated air and removes dangerous particulate matter through a series of filters.
Companies can employ this technology in place of traditional exhaust systems, or place them in areas of high pollution to clean the exhaust from a variety of sources.
6. Fuel Cells
Transportation is an indispensable industry, but a notoriously environmentally harmful one. The majority of transports, from cars to airplanes, use fossil fuels to power their engines, releasing toxic fumes into the air as a result. Fuel cells may provide an answer, as they can generate electricity via a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, only emitting water as a byproduct.
Fuel cells haven’t seen widespread adoption primarily due to their cost, but that may be changing. Developments like hybrid fuel cell-powered aircraft indicate that the technology could be more practical than previously believed.
7. Exhaust Scrubbers
Another technology improving the sustainability of the transportation industry is exhaust scrubbers. As their name implies, these devices scrub the gas emissions from vehicles like airplanes and boats to remove the dangerous components. Companies can use exhaust scrubbers to eliminate a range of pollutants, from carbon dioxide to sulfur.
Sulfur scrubbers can remove up to 98% of sulfur oxide from a vehicle’s exhaust. As these systems improve, they could become more effective and affordable so that more transport companies could integrate them into their operations.
8. Wireless Power Transfer
Many forms of public transportation now run on electricity, but traditional power sources can limit their range or efficiency. Heavy batteries can weigh vehicles down and may not provide enough energy to go very far before needing to charge. In some areas, workers and officials want to solve this issue with wireless power transfer.
Wireless power transfer uses magnetic fields to charge electronic components without requiring a physical connection. These systems can power transports through the road or their tracks, allowing electric vehicles to travel over vast distances with greater efficiency. Wireless power transfer makes electric transportation a more practical option.
9. Biodegradable Bullets
Firearms can be dangerous, even when people aren’t using them against other humans. Bullets and their casings contain hazardous metallic compounds that can seep into the soil, harming the environment. In response to this problem, the U.S. Army is researching biodegradable bullets so that their live fire drills don’t damage the surrounding plants and wildlife.
The Army also hopes to produce bullets that deposit seeds into the soil. With this concept, spent ammunition wouldn’t just prevent harm to the environment, but it would actively grow it.
Industries Trending Towards Sustainability
The industrial shift toward sustainability is indicative of a broader cultural movement. As public pressure to preserve the environment increases, more businesses across all sectors will look for ways to go green.
Going forward, more minds will focus on these issues, leading to more effective, practical and affordable green technologies.