How is industry preparing to be cleaner, greener, and more energy efficient? This summer we are highlighting 10 technologies that companies from around the world are developing for green industry.
Industry is facing a double challenge in terms of sustainable development: it needs to implement more environmentally friendly production methods. It also needs to develop new technologies that enable “green growth”.
Controlling water and energy consumption, reducing waste, and eliminating pollution are the main targets for industrial companies to reduce the ecological impact of their production processes. But how can future industrial development take place in an environmentally friendly manner?
We are highlighting 10 initiatives for a greener and still productive industrial world.
1/ A Biofungicide to Replace Chemical Pesticides
French biotechnology company Micropep is developing new biological crop protection solutions using micropeptides. Their idea is to offer an ecological alternative to chemical pesticides and fertilizers widely used in agriculture.
Micropeptides are short natural peptide molecules, made of amino acids, that target and regulate plant genes and proteins. When pulverized on plants, this biofungocide offers protection against resistant pathogens. At the same time, it contributes to reducing the farmers’ environmental impact.
2/ New Eco-Friendly Trucks on the Field
United Kingdom / Lituania
Manufacturers of agricultural machinery are advancing their efforts to develop alternative fuel sources to diesel, including hydrogen and biomethane.
- UK machinery manufacturer JCB has recently invested £100million (€117million) into developing its own hydrogen engines and has launched a prototype of its famous Loadall telehandler and a backhoe, both powered by hydrogen.
- Based in Lithuania, the Auga group farms 39,000ha of organic cereals, root crops and vegetables, plus a large dairy farm with 3,400 cows. It has developed its own Auga M1 tractor, which can do the work of a diesel-powered 400-hp tractor, only with zero emissions.
3/ Eco-Packaging for the Cosmetics Industry
Finland / United States / New Zealand
From plastic pollution and other packaging waste to unsustainable, often toxic ingredients – the cosmetics industry as a whole does not have the strongest eco-credentials.
Start-ups launched to show beauty can be eco-friendly are seeing huge growth and major players in the world of cosmetics are waking up to the realization they have catching up to do. Outer packaging is one important area of action.
- Chanel, for example, has teamed up with Sulapac, a Finland-based company that has developed a bio-based material that can replace traditional, fossil-based plastic.
- US-based LanzaTech, has developed a carbon recycling technology and teamed up with L’Oréal and TotalEnergies in the production of polyethylene (PE) cosmetic bottles.
- New Zealand-based Ethique, known for its bar-style products, has come up with cardboard packaging containing no waxes or sealants and that can be composted or recycled.
4/ AI and Data for a Greener Textile Industry
France / United States
The textile industry ranks second only to oil in terms of global pollution levels. Textile manufacturers are waking up to the necessity of investing in new technologies, for reasons of environmental impact.
AI and smarter automation processes are now being introduced to optimize production and manage stock levels, which in turn have eco-benefits.
- French software producer Verteego builds AI platforms that enhance the decision-making capabilities of supply chain and marketing. This allows brands to take more streamlined business decisions, where anticipated scenarios are closer to reality, automatically reducing wastage.
- Atlanta-based SoftWear Automation has come up with Sewbots that enable on-demand manufacturing by making supply chains local and closer to the customer. The Sewbots use proprietary advanced robotics, computer vision, AI, and IoT technologies to take cut fabric pieces as input and output a finished t-shirt.
5/ A Water Disinfection Solution Without Chemicals
Having a solid waste management system is crucial to industrialists. But using chemicals for waste disposal is not without effect on the environment and industrialists are increasingly taking this risk into consideration. This is why new chemical-free solutions are emerging.
Water treatment specialist Best Water Technology (BWT) France has launched a new water disinfection solution that removes the need for chemicals and reduces harmful by-products in manufacturing waste.
This solution involves the use of UV lamps and hydrogen peroxide which oxidizes organic matter but does not generate by-products as chlorine or bromine do.
6/ Fighting Limescale With CO2
Limescale can be a great nuisance and has historically been treated with salt. But from an ecological point of view, salt leads to an overconsumption of water and a discharge of chloride into the wastewater.
Ecobulles has developed an ecological alternative that uses CO2. Champagne houses could benefit from it.
7/ Cooling Buildings Without Air Conditioning
How can we cool down buildings without using air conditioning which uses a lot of energy and is not very ecological?
Italian company SINTRA has been manufacturing eco-friendly air treatment solutions for 30 years with the objective of making buildings energy self-sufficient.
They came up with an HVAC system that replaces artificial air conditioning with free, natural, and ecological air conditioning, thanks to innovative perforated ducts.
8/ Wooden Materials for Greener Buildings
France / Finland
The materials and processes used in the construction industry can both be environmentally damaging, which has stimulated demand for greener alternatives including wood.
- Woodoo reinforced the wood at the molecular level, transforming it into “augmented wood” – a cutting-edge construction material that is durable, translucent, rot-resistant, three times stronger than the original wood, and more resistant to fire.
- Metsä Wood developed Kerto LVL (laminated veneer lumber), thin, rotary-peeled softwood veneers that are glued together to form a continuous beam or sheet. The use of mass timber products in urban construction can meet density targets, while simultaneously reducing environmental footprint and mitigating the effects of climate change.
9/ A Bio-Based Resins for Paint Manufacturers
Lixol, a subsidiary of Groupe Berkem, manufactures alkyd resins. They’ve just released a 100% bio-based ecological solution, without raw materials of petroleum origin.
Their resins contain a bio-based liquid hydrocarbon solvent derived from a wood industry waste recovery process.
10/ Energy Harvesting For Sustainable Machining
With machine tools playing a unique and leading role in manufacturing, digital innovation in machine tool technology is already playing a pivotal role in efforts to heighten manufacturing sustainability.
But the growing number of sensors embedded in smart machine tools all need to be powered. While batteries were typically used in the past, new energy harvesting technology provides a far greener, cheaper, user-friendly alternative.