With the fight between winter and summer weather raging around us, it’s all too easy to focus on the negative aspects of nature’s power. And that’s totally understandable – it’s hard to have many positive thoughts when Mother Nature is throwing wind, rain and sleet in your face after all! But I’ve being thinking about the flip side recently, about whether we can look to and harness the power of nature for good. With fossil fuels in decline, this is surely science’s greatest challenge of the future.
A wonderful way of solving two problems at once!
I came across a study where scientists found they could grow a highly valued strain of oil-rich algae. Not only could these algae be used as a clean source of biofuel, but the process of growing the algae removed nitrates and phosphates from waste water.
And that’s not the only innovative idea humanity has come up with. Here are a few more of my favorites:
1. Recycling concrete with lightning
That’s right. One of the least recyclable materials in the world, concrete, has been found to break up into its component parts of cement, rock and water when blasted with lightning. The surge of electricity travels between the elements of this material, severing the bonds that hold them together. Genius.
2. Solar powered water purifier
Incredibly, this life-saving innovation was thought up by 14-year-old student, Deepika Kurup. Her cheap but brilliant invention exposes a mix of zinc oxide and titanium oxide to sunlight, thus beginning a chemical reaction that kills off any bacteria in the water. It’s already being used in developing countries where people in some areas do not have access to clean water.
3. Compostable T-shirts
German brand Trigema is of the largest T-shirt manufacturers in Europe and known for its ethical business ethos. Their latest invention is the biodegradable T-shirt that can be safely added to the compost heap when it wears out. Free from chemical substances, the material is created using purely natural components – harnessing the power of nature’s own materials.
4. Ozone cleaning systems
Whether for domestic or medical use, ingenious ozone cleaning systems are on the rise. Ozone is created in nature during thunderstorms and is basically electrically charged oxygen particles. Harnessing and reproducing this effect in ozone generators is a brilliant way of purifying the air, removing any contaminants or pollutants that are present. And the only bi-product? Pure oxygen.
What an exciting time in science! I can’t wait to see the ways we continue to harness the power of nature in the future…