Deep-tech reversing pollution, making our planet great again
What startups in the Environment track are working on based on our Global Startup Challenge
The environment track from the Hello Tomorrow Challenge is the most diverse in terms of applications and origins. The 50 startups come from 20 different countries from every single continent! What’s more, this sector has the most applications from countries with a low GDP, and those not typically considered ‘top innovation hubs’. Not entirely surprising if you consider that this sector addresses one problem specifically: access to water.
The most prominent area targeted by our startups was technological solutions offering better access to water either locally or globally vary enormously in terms of approach and technologies used. From bioinspired membranes to condense water from the atmosphere, to high-tech atmospheric water generation technologies, and AI-driven virtual prospecting programs to identify groundwater sources. Most of these projects are being developed as solutions to local problems in the developing world, either in areas where there are severe water shortages or areas where the water is not clean enough to drink.
More generally, startups from the Hello Tomorrow Challenge are developing technologies to answer four major environmental problems: access to water, water treatment, waste recycling and air pollution. The diversity of these technologies is so large that it becomes relatively tricky to present concrete technological trends. There are however several projects which particularly stand out and are presented below.
Skytree is a spinout from the European Space Agency (ESA). Their CO2 re-capture process was originally developed to make longer space missions possible by extracting the CO2 exhaled by astronauts onboard the spacecraft. But now, their mission is to convert harmful CO2 from the air around us into something useful for our planet. They are aiming to build the homes of the future, supported by atmospheric CO2 capture technology to purify the air we breath, provide clean drinking water, generate energy for heating, light (through methanol conversion) as well as efficiently grow food indoors. And it’s all done with one device.
Bluefield’s microsatellite-based sensor technology can survey methane emission sites around the world on a daily basis with unprecedented accuracy. By providing methane emission data along with predictive analytics to clients in the industry, they help them profitably address pipeline leaks. Providing this data to governments enables the development and enforcement of stricter regulations on methane emissions. Beyond the main focus on reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector, their methane data will also be useful for the development of emission credit markets in forestry and agriculture, where monitoring and verification of project results has in the past often been a barrier.
Learn more about Bluefield: http://bluefield.co/
Air pollution is a global problem. It affects everyone’s lives and health as well as the general economy. Air Ink has developed a technology that captures particulate air pollution from fossil sources before it is released into the environment. Not only that, they then upcycle it into high quality ink which is safe for consumer use. This technology combats air pollution levels which we inhale on a daily basis, but it equally creates a novel technique to derive high quality inks. Since its first inception in 2013 at MIT Media Lab in India, Air Ink have rigorously tested, piloted and launched their technology on the market, and have successfully cleaned ~ 1.6 trillion litres of air.
Catalytic Innovations has developed a reactor that converts carbon dioxide into ethanol, which can be used in consumer products and equally as a renewable fuel source. Their process leverages high pressure carbon dioxide to improve yields over current technologies. Components of the technology were discovered by the founders at Yale University and are under exclusive license from Catalytic Innovations. Using this reactor design and novel catalysts, this process enables reduced carbon footprint of ethanol production and introduces a green, sustainably-derived fuel to the global market.
The bio-separation industry have come across several issues: high energy costs of dewatering; harmful impact on products due to high shear; competition for freshwater resources; CO2 emissions and productive land use. But technology developed by uFraction8 offers a solution to these issues. They have developed a new technology for liquid-particle processing which outdoes the three biggest technologies in the field, filtration, flocculation and centrifugation, over a range of performance characteristics and applications. Starting with a focus on an established industrial problem with dewatering of microbe based production, uFraction8 technology is the key to unlock new scales and economies of biomanufacture for pharmaceutical, cosmetics, nutraceutical, fine chemical, pigments, food, feed and biopolymer products.
Find out more about uFraction8 here: http://ufraction8.com/
Over a billion tons of organic waste is generated every year in Europe alone. That’s why WiseSoil have developed a biomass pretreatment module that is installed as a plug-n-play solution before any biogas digester or wastewater treatment plant. Their technology significantly improves both plant throughput as well as biogas yield. The module combines five pretreatment stages in a single, easy-to-install and energy-efficient solution. The compact unit allows waste owners and plant operators to maximize their profits and eliminate growing pollution from organic waste.
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