VechainThor & Smart Membranes - Paving the Way for Sustainability; An Editorial by Professor Qi Ge, SC Member
The following is an editorial by vechain Steering Committee member, Lecturer, physicist and 2D Materials researcher, Professor Qi Ge.
Prof. Ge’s pioneering research is unlocking the exciting world of 2D materials that, in combination with the VechainThor blockchain, are offering new ways to transform technology, global infrastructure and address common challenges we face in our transition to a truly sustainable economy.
Biology has always fascinated scientists, especially physicists, due to life’s mind-boggling complexity. How is it that even the simplest bacteria exist, function, and evolve? Their intricacy, comprising billions of chemical systems, seem to defy the rules of the universe. Yet, they somehow maintain a myriad of complex functions, all collaborating to survive.
The exploration of biology offers physicists a unique opportunity to expand our understanding of the natural world. These studies, in turn, unlock secrets behind the natural’s world’s complexity, bringing transformative technological applications within reach.
One of the key focuses of my studies are biological membranes. These structures hold revolutionary potential for our technical capabilities. In biology, membranes are barriers — they separate organs and control the flow of chemicals in and out of cells. They can transmit signals or act as a shield from viruses. Membrane functions are as diverse as they are numerous and they’re opening up a new world of possibilities for materials scientists.
Membranes share one common trait; selective permeability. This term describes the act of letting some things pass through, while stopping other things. This characteristic is at the core of my research.
Smart Membranes — The New Industrial Revolution
Smart membranes can be built out of many kinds of material to achieve many different outcomes.
Smart membranes can be much more energy efficient than existing technologies, programmed at creation to behave in certain ways without needing computers or sensors.
We could greatly enhance workplace safety, for example, by building smart membranes that react to humidity, temperature or pressure changes automatically, shutting down industrial machinery before a critical outcome occurs and saving lives in the process.
Smart membranes can react to chemical changes, such as those that may occur prior to a catastrophic lithium battery failure in an electric vehicle, and stop out of control fires even occurring. In just the past few weeks, my team has made tremendous strides towards such a material.
For VechainThor, we can sync the control and registration of membrane production directly with the blockchain, enabling real-time monitoring and verification of membrane performance. In turn, we enable superior insights into the health of industrial machines and smart tech, as well as the ability to track gaseous emissions or any other kind of information we might wish to monitor.
The Era of Abundance
Our research into smart membranes will help tackle many of the global resource issues we face today, allowing us to harvest and utilize greener, much more abundant alternatives with profound implications for global society.
Lithium batteries, a cornerstone of modern civilization, often rely on highly damaging mining in insecure regions of the world, leaving behind a trail of destruction in their wake, in the form of mining effluent. With smart membranes, we could instead actively filter seawater and directly harvest a near unlimited source of the valuable metal. The same method can be applied to any of the other abundant metals found naturally in seawater.
We could begin to efficiently harvest Hydrogen, an incredibly common element bound to water. Hydrogen has revolutionary potential as a gaseous fuel source, offering humanity pollution-free energy that can replace the natural gas in our homes and industries, and utilize existing infrastructure. Once burned, hydrogen emits only water, completely preventing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with natural gas use.
Desalination — the act of removing salt from seawater — is another industry that will benefit tremendously from smart membranes. Desalination plants are just too expensive for many countries, and have huge energy demands. Smart membranes can selectively filter out salt in seawater, offering practically unlimited fresh drinking water at relatively low cost.
The implications for global food security are profound, as well as the health and well-being of billions of the world’s poorest.
With just three examples, and there are many more, hopefully you can start to grasp the revolutionary potential of these incredible materials, in combination with vechain’s blockchain technology.
Smarter Materials Make greener Technologies
With smart membranes, we can build even smarter, more efficient technologies and create increasingly complex materials with new capabilities.
We can build materials that act differently depending on how its atoms are arranged or whether a charge is applied. Some materials can behave like semiconductors, while acting more like metals and we’re able to switch between these states at will, creating a whole new kind of toolbox to build with.
The implications for computing, for example, will be huge, advancing fields such as ‘Neuromorphic Computing’, computers that emulate and act like the structures of the human brain. We can build computers that ‘sense’ light, and react to stimuli to trigger an outcome. Graphene, a form of carbon, is unlocking revolutions within the fields of solar energy, computing, heat conduction and energy transmission.
The Future is Nano
Smart membranes, inspired by the remarkable functionality of biological membranes. are the next generation of materials and a game-changer for industry, society and for achieving true sustainability.
Eventually, applications of membrane technology will scale to produce many billions of data points throughout global industry, placing VechainThor at the heart of a global network of nanomaterials, monitoring, logging and tracking industrial data in real-time.
I am proud to be working at the cutting edge of materials science alongside pioneering technology companies like vechain. Together, we are unlocking our collective evolution, enabling a truly smart and sustainable global economy.
Professor Qi Ge, Vechain Steering Committee Member & 2D Materials Researcher
“Over ten years of expertise in material chemistry and nanotechnologies. His research focuses on energy and environmental issues by developing novel solutions using advanced functional intelligent materials. A forerunner in merging smart materials and the Web 3.0 idea to promote sustainable development. He utilizes smart materials to automate waste management procedures and reduce the carbon footprint of waste disposal.”
Vechain, headquartered in San Marino, Europe, is the curator of VechainThor, a world leading smart contract platform spearheading the real world adoption of blockchain technology.
Through leveraging the capabilities of ‘trustless’ data (information without intermediaries), smart contracts and IoT technologies, VechainThor has enabled solutions across a wide array of fields. Vechain now turns its attention to the greatest challenge of all — building digital ecosystems to drive sustainability and digital transformation at global scale.
Visit https://www.vechain.org to learn more.