Our goal in the BREATHE project is to analyze the air to identify the main pollutants and their concentration but also the environmental setting and several other factors
So as thousands of young entrepreneurs, researchers and engineers hatch up new sustainable solutions every year, we put together a brief list of some of the best innovations and the faces behind them:
Growing up in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, Madhu Vajrakarur was one of the 88 million people in India deprived of safe drinking water. In his native village, water was drawn from borewells, and during periods without rain, Vajrakarur’s family had to buy or borrow water from neighbours. It was these tough conditions that spurred the now 23-year-old electrical engineering student to build a two-in-one wind turbine that can generate electricity and clean water.
While finishing her undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Amsterdam, INGU cofounder Anouk van Pol was already working on the first trial of her company’s pipeline inspection tool in collaboration with Shell Oil. The design: a baseball-sized sensory device that can detect blockages and leaks in oil, gas and water pipelines.
It was back in 2014, while working on a biogas project in South Africa, that Kwanda Jakalase and Randolph Bruce Meth had an idea for how to reshape the renewable energy market of South Africa. The longtime friends from school and church identified untapped potential for solar power in a sun-blessed country where electricity prices have skyrocketed over the last decade. That was the debut of what is today Silicon Energy Technology.
At the age of 24, Israeli entrepreneur Inna Braverman co-founded Eco Wave Power with the aim of turning ocean and sea waves into green electricity. Under her leadership, the company installed its first grid-connected wave energy array in Gibraltar in 2016, and became the first company from Israel to ever list on Nasdaq Stockholm.
Arthur Kay’s journey from architect to waste-energy innovator started with a cup of coffee. In 2013, when the now 30-year-old Kay noticed a thin film of oil on top of his cold Americano, he started to wonder whether the waste could be harnessed for energy. That idea eventually turned into Bio Bean, a London-based company that collects grounds from coffee shops, restaurants and offices and converts them into energy-rich pellets.
As a young engineer, Hélène Buée joined ENGIE’s “Nanotech, Sensors & Wireless” research team as an intern in analytical chemistry back in 2013. She eventually became a key member of the team at ENGIE’s strategic CRIGEN Lab, focused on BREATHE, a project that is bringing crucial innovations to air quality.
Hélène Buée explained that cities must meet with a range of European regulations and targets on the concentration of a number of air pollutants, such as Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matters (PM2.5 and PM10). In response, and until measures taken by the cities show results, BREATHE is developing complementary and temporary solutions to treat the air locally through remediation techniques. “Our goal is to analyze the air to identify the main pollutants and their concentration but also the environmental setting and several other factors,” she explained. “We then determine which innovative technology would be the most appropriate to reduce their concentration without using too many resources. Improving air quality shouldn’t come at the expense of creating other environmental damage,” Hélène Buée says.
2. electrostatic precipitation sends fine particles through electrically charged posts causing them to agglomerate, become heavier and eventually falling off to be collected and potentially recycled;
3. filters, such as carbon filters, trap gases and particles, though require constant maintenance to ensure they are clogged up enough to be efficient but don’t become over-saturated;
4. aqueous precipitation, which just like rain, will capture particles and some pollutants like NO2 and SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and make them drop, but means residual water has to be watched to avoid putting back polluted water in the waste water network.
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