Environmental problems represent one of the biggest threats the world is facing today. Solving these problems usually involves ceasing the chaos created by humans. But as the saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure" goes, researchers have discovered several methods in order to solve these problems and turn waste found in contaminated air, water and soil into something useful while also benefiting the environment.
Air pollution is one of the most notable factors, resulting in climate change. It is known that climate change is an inevitable, urgent global challenge with long-term implications. Scientists have been developing ways in which carbon dioxide is captured and converted into something useful, indefinitely solving the problem of emissions which cause climate change.
It was discovered that this decade has seen the highest levels of CO2 found in the atmosphere in the last 4 million years, passing the point where it can hit "safe" levels again. Wouldn't it be great if all that excess carbon dioxide found in the air could be turned into fuel?
US Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory made a discovery, that by utilizing nanotechnology it is possible to turn CO2 into ethanol. This means taking a waste product, a result of combustion, and reversing that process into obtaining fuel, which could be used immediately in the vehicles with no modifications necessary. This is a perfect method in using carbon dioxide and preventing it from reaching the atmosphere.
This was the idea of a Chinese performance artist. This stunt was quickly covered by the media after he turned the polluted air surrounding the city of Beijing into bricks.
The artist went on a 100-day stroll around China's capital, collecting the particles found in the city's polluted air, using an industrial-sized vacuum cleaner and after mixing the collected dust with clay, he turned it into a brick.
The stunt was done in order to make a statement about the state of air pollution in the city of Beijing and the dangers of this matter.
Soil contamination with heavy metals is a difficult problem to take care of. Contaminants can reach the underground water reservoirs even after disposing of all the contaminated soil, being a threat to plants and food crops, which use water during the growth process.
A method to combat this involves a combination of both biorefinery and phytoremediation. Biorefinery refers to biomass processing, including agriculture plant remains and food waste, used in order to produce beneficial goods. Phytoremediation refers to a mean of cleaning up environmental pollution using plants in order to extract metals from the contaminated soil.
Harvesting the plants with metal deposits stored in their cells will help to remove toxic metals from the environment. The plant biomass can be used to recover metals for useful purposes like fuel or chemicals.
Scientists have discovered a way to use wastewater as an opportunity to generate energy. Wastewater contains living cellular organisms which uptake the nutrients found in our wastewater and convert it to methane gas and carbon dioxide, so our wastewater is their food.
Researchers at the Kaunas University of Technology have been working on a process that improves the efficiency of microbial fuel cells by using modified graphite felt. This technology is innovative because of the multifunctional application it offers.