Discover the innovations our readers couldn’t get enough of this year
At Springwise, we often find that our readers’ interest in different types of innovation correlates with the issues facing the wider world. For example, in 2020, our list of the top ten most-read innovations was dominated by solutions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, however, as the pandemic dropped down the news agenda, only one of our top ten innovations was directly COVID-related. This year, none of them are.
Instead, against the backdrop of the global energy crisis, renewable energy has emerged as a clear theme. Numbers four, three, and two on our list were all renewable energy innovations, and two of these are specifically related to at-home energy generation – perhaps reflecting our readers’ heightened concern about volatile global energy prices. Beyond this, interest in reforestation, construction, and sustainable food production underlines the extent to which these issues are coming to the fore as the world begins to grapple with the climate crisis and its implications.
Number one on the list, however, was reserved for an electric vehicle (EV) innovation that also optimises home energy use. Back in January, we highlighted that 2022 would be an important year for electric vehicles, so ZipCharge’s portable EV charger reflects the coming together of two important trends that impacted the world of innovation in 2022.
Today, deforestation causes the loss of 1.35 million tonnes of carbon sequestration each year. Australian startup AirSeed Technology is hoping to reverse this using AI and an army of seed-firing drones. AirSeed’s technology uses specially designed seed pods that can be fired into the ground from the drones. The seed pods are manufactured using waste biomass, which provides a nutrient-rich coating that protects the seeds and provides materials for boosting seed growth. Read more
Cement has a huge carbon footprint – contributing up to 8 per cent of total global emissions. Much of this comes from the process of heating limestone to very high temperatures. This not only uses a tremendous amount of energy but also releases carbon dioxide directly. Now, startup Biomason has developed a way to ‘grow’ a cement substitute using micro-organisms. Read more
Contact with nature is an important aspect of general wellbeing yet can be difficult to fit into everyday life. And for people who work and study in windowless rooms, vision breaks that include views of nature are even more important. Other than static artworks, how can a sense of a connection with the outdoors be brought inside? Using long-form photography, digital image experts Sky Factory have created a line of virtual windows, skylights, and aquariums. Read more
Using air filtering plants, a ‘green wall’ system developed by Helsinki-based Naava, provides indoor spaces with clean air and the physical and psychological benefits of living and working near greenery. Grown in an inorganic growth medium, the plant walls are nonallergenic and their roots achieve maximal biofiltration effectiveness in dissolving impurities in the air. Read more
In the 30 years to 2021, three million fewer properties were built than in the previous 30. Now, France and Netherlands based Cutwork studios has prototyped the concept of PolyBlocs – modularly constructed residential sites consisting of individual PolyRooms that, when stacked, create an array of sizes and shapes. The PolyBlocs build in locale-specific biodiversity, and seek to alleviate the dearth of affordable, healthy, and adaptive construction methods and housing options in the world’s vast and growing cities. Read more
New York-based company Upward Farms, which focuses on indoor aquaponic vertical farming, has announced the addition of the world’s largest vertical farm to its network. The new facility, located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania will be 250,000 square foot. By early 2023 it is expected to be providing fresh, locally sourced microgreens and sustainably raised hybrid striped bass to consumers throughout the Northeast United States. Read more
Ultra-deep drilling rigs take up far less space than wind turbines and solar panels, and the heat from the interior of the Earth could power the entire world’s energy needs for millions of years. But, until recently, projects attempting to access ultra-deep geothermal energy have been defeated by mechanical failures. Now, MIT-linked Quaise Energy believes it has found a way to make the technology work. Read more
Solar panel enthusiasts now have the means to turn almost any vertical surface into a source of power. For urban dwellers with little or no access to a rooftop or garden, Mitrex’s new systems makes it possible to bring solar power to almost any home. The Canadian solar experts have created a building integrated photovoltaic material that looks like a regular stone, brick, glass, or wood facade. Capable of matching almost any design, the material provides architects and government planners with near limitless options for integrating solar panels into new or existing structures. Read more
Designer Joe Doucet has created a wind turbine wall that brings wind power to the home. The design concept uses off-the-shelf wind turbine generators set within a 2.4 metre by 7.6 metre frame. The size and colour of the installation, as well as the shape of the blades, can be personalised. Installed vertically, the turbines take up minimal space and are intended to be as inconspicuous and simple to use as possible. Read more
One fear for many electric vehicle owners is the thought of running out of juice miles from the nearest plug. Now, startup ZipCharge is poised to eliminate range anxiety with its ZipCharge Go portable charger. The company describes the Go as a ‘flexible and convenient charging solution’ for those without easy access to fixed charging points. The device can be charged up at home through a standard plug socket, and an app enables users to schedule charging for off-peak hours when electricity is cheapest. Read more
Curated by: Matthew Hempstead
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23rd December 2022