I was trawling through YouTube in search for new technology to review when I came across an interesting short video by GreentechMedia titled “Rewired: How electric vehicles could make or break the power grid“. The premise suggested that as society slowly drifts towards large scale electric vehicle usage, electricity providers may struggle to meet demand with the current infrastructure as people arrive home from work and charge their vehicles. It wasn’t anything I had thought of before so I started to thinking and researching a bit more. Now first and foremost, I’m not an expert in this subject nor have I studied it.
This really brings into question, where are we heading in terms of a renewable, large scale energy source or sources once our non-renewable’s have been exhausted. Can we call ourselves `green´ if we need non-renewable`s to help us get there, will our generation be `green´ or will it be the next or further. Are we waiting around for the physicists to find the solution to develop cold fusion and have endless energy or should every structure that faces the sun have a photovoltaic panel on it. There are many questions and I wish I had the answers but I don´t think any one person can solve this. There are however many people and organisation’s doing their best, some of which have featured in previous blogs.
Please don’t think I’m completely against non-renewables and only for green solutions, I’m pragmatic and merely asking the question. So do we have enough energy to become green, I think so, as long as we accept that we need non-renewables to get us there. At this point in time energy its like an early generation Toyota Prius, a hybrid of both renewable and non renewable energies. The greener technologies can quite go it alone just yet.
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This is part two and final post for emerging technology for developing countries which focuses of waste management, housing and construction and information technology. Enabling and supporting emerging technologies for developing communities has far-reaching positive impacts as highlighted by the first topic for this post, waste managment.
Waste management has been a health and welfare issue for many countries, not just developing countries. The need for clean and safe waste Management is imperative to all communities. The re.source Sanitation organisation based in Haiti created a portable household toilet for informal settlements. The need for this concept was borne from the natural disaster where a great deal of infrastructure was destroyed and many people died from the diseases that took hold.
The housing and construction in some unforgiving environments can be a tough ask. So, how do you build cost-effective housing in these areas, simple. The Enactus Cairo University’s has developed earth bag housing. Utilising sandbags and some engineering knowhow the project can erect a sustainable, low-cost and stable dwelling within 15 days. The earth bag walls also protect the inhabitants from flooding and earthquakes and also provide a safe refuge during gunfire. Dwellings in some developing countries lack a reliable power source or any power at all. The liter of light – Switzerland organisation has developed an ecological solution to darkened dwellings during the day. Utilising a water and chlorine solution in a clear plastic bottle, then in half and half in the roof of a unlight dwelling. The results provide a defragmented light source equivalent to a 55 watt light bulb.
With the improvement of basic Information technology infrastructure benefits to developing countries are astronomical. Due to the high risk of tuberculosis and limited medical facilities, the Operation ASHA developed an Electronic Medical Record System (EMRS) to obtain biometric data through the use of fingerprint scanned and a wireless network device such as a small tablet. The device is referred to as an eComplience, which gathers data from tuberculosis suffers and transmits observations to a central medical team to monitor the patients health. Operation ASHA state that eComplience can be utilised to measure any long term diseases in patients. Utilising this emerging medical technology in these areas provides a level of care and welfare that may not have been present previously.
There are a number of organisations like the Empowering People Network and charities such as the International River Foundation striving to improve the lives many people in developing countries that should be acknowledged and supported. Not all the technology is cutting edge, but emerging technology doesn’t always have to be. By very definition ‘emerging’ is for something to become apparent. Dedicating just a small amount of resources to improving any group, community and just an individual’s life is never a waste.
How can emerging and green technologies benefit some of the poorest people on earth? These people live in some of the harshest climates and geographies on earth. Improving their lives by bringing them up to health and well-being standards most of us take for grant does not seem to be a top priority, apart from a dedicated few. This two-part blog will highlight some of the projects and organisations trying to better the world through the use of simple and green technology. Part one of two will review water and health, food and agriculture and energy. Part two focuses on waste management, housing and construction and information and communication technology.
In 2005 the Swiss based company Vestergaard Frandsen released the Lifestraw®, a simple tubular device capable of removing water born bacteria and diseases. Vestegaard Frandsen state the ‘water filters convert contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water’ potentially providing a family of 5 with clean drinking water for up to 3 years. Vestegard Frandsen are not alone, Skyjuice Foundation based in Australia also produces water filtration systems for developing countries, but on a much larger scale.
Championing the aforementioned companies for the rest of this post would be easy, but who are the other companies making an effort that have yet to reach mainstream success. The Mother Nature network recently published an article about Cynthia Lam an Australian inventor, who has developed a water purification system which activates with sunlight. The onedollarglasses project is from a German inventor by the name of Martin Aufmuth. His concept providies affordable corrective eyewear hinges on utilising very cost-effective and robust materials that can be assembled at home.
In the area of food and agriculture, there are a number of great innovations being made. For instance, the hippo water roller is a 20lt circular container with a pole in the middle of each end that is bent around to form a handle. The hippo water roller project aimed to reduce the daily impact to women and children gathering water and placing heavy containers on their heads. The hippo water roller does exactly as it sounds, the containers can be rolled on the ground which reduces impact and significantly reduces time to gather the water. Theses containers allow a greater amount of water to be used for crops and food preparation as more water can be gathered daily, in turn providing more food and fresh water for communities.
With better infrastructure people in developing countries are gaining more access to mobile phone networks and the internet but not always a continuous or reliable source of energy. The African Renewable Energy Distributor has developed a mobile solar cell phone charger. These are portable devices that can attached to bicycles and mopeds. The concept enables the device to gain charge through solar cells and store the energy in lithium batteries. Its mobility allows it to be placed in numerous locations for mobile charging to occur.