There exists a need for artificial muscles that are silent, soft, and compliant, with performance characteristics similar to those of skeletal muscle, enabling people to overcome their disabilities. Different types of electric motors or pneumatic systems drive exoskeletons, prosthetic and assistive devices to enhance human performance or aid disabled people to walk and carry out everyday tasks. They provide fast responses but are bulky, heavy, stiff, noisy, non-biological in feeling, and as such less accepted by the end user.
Textile processing permits scalable and rational production of wearable artificial muscles, and enables novel ways to design assistive devices.
Swedish researchers have created actuators (An actuatoris a type of motor that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or system)— from cellulose yarn coated with a polymer that reacts to electricity. These fibers are then woven and knitted using standard industrial machines and coated with conducting polymers using a metal-free deposition. The researchers have called these textile actuators, “textuators”.
These textuators scale up force by parallel assembly of single fibers (Fig A), amplify the strain by using stretchable patterns ( B), and can be effectively mass fabricated. This will allow for a new means of driving and designing assistive devices, such as exoskeleton-like suits with integrated wearable actuators.
Hospitals, NGOs caring for disabled people, People with temporary or permanent disabilities, Elderly people, Prosthetic industry, Physiotherapists, People recovering from injuries etc.
Knitting and weaving artificial muscles could help create soft exoskeletons that people with disabilities could wear under their clothes to help them walk. By varying the processing method and the weaving pattern, it should be possible to tailor the force and strain characteristics of a textuator to the specific application at hand.
Sustainability Problem: Tissue paper and toilet paper account for a high proportion of solid waste from cities and contribute to deforestation.
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have comeup with the electricity from toilet paper project. They found that they could generate energy from waste toilet paper with about the same efficiency as a natural gas plant and for the same cost as in-home solar panels.
Used toilet paper from wastewater-treatment plants is collected, then dried out and converted it into a gas in a chamber that can reach up to 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit (900 degrees Celsius). They removed tars, ashes and moisture from the gas to leave behind mostly methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Those gases were fed into solid-side fuel cells, which maintain very high temperatures to generate low-emission (1/6th the carbon emissions of a coal plant) electricity from methane.
Waste toilet paper, is a continually available resource. In the international peer-reviewed journal Energy Technology, the researchers present the basic system design, as well as its electricity yield and overall efficiency, based on detailed mass and energy balance calculations. We might see the first Waste Tissue Paper-to-electricity plant being built in China.
Large commercial estates consume a lot of energy and in order to make these buildings energy neutral through use of solar panels, there is either insufficient roof surface or the cost of installing solar panels is too high.
Area of Sustainability: Energy
A tech startup ‘Physee’ has designed a transparent solar-powered double paned window product called PowerWindows that can convert light into electricity and can generate enough power to make buildings energy neutral. The windows have solar cells installed in the edges at a specific angle that allows the incoming solar light to be efficiently transformed into electricity.
The cost of the wiring that brings power from the grid to such windows is considerable in large commercial estates, and investing in power-generating windows would currently be more feasible for commercial use.
PowerWindows can be integrated with SmartWindows, which is another product that has integrated smart sensors in the window that sense the outside environment. SmartWindows control inside systems, such as air-conditioning and sunblinds, based on information about the outside conditions around the building.
Another product is being developed that would be coated with a special material that transforms incoming visible light into near-infrared light. This is then transported toward the solar cells in the edges of the windows. This second generation is expected to triple the energy efficiency. The coating is based on the rare-earth metal thulium that has the ability to transform a broad spectrum of light into near-infrared light.
Real Estate owners, Energy companies, Commercial and Government establishments, Utility companies, Window Glass manufacturers, Educational institution, Media
PowerWindows is patented. Activating a buildings’ facades with solar cells will significantly contribute to making any building energy neutral. The windows can provide 50W per square meter, which can compensate up to 75% of the energy consumption of buildings, unlike solar panels that have a limited surface area for buildings or alternative smart window solutions that have low conversion efficiencies. A user can charge a phone per every square meter [11 square feet] two times a day by plugging their smartphones into the windows using USB ports.
A luminescent thin-film coating to produce clear and colorless windows can be integrated in the design of any building without compromising the functionality or esthetics thereof, making it highly suitable for the built environment.
Sustainability Issue: There is growing pressure on our water resources due to population, economic growth, climate change and more so with pollution due to the dumping of industrial (and other generators of) wastewater. The world’s water is fast degrading in quality, threatening the health of people and ecosystems and increasing the cost of its treatment.
Area of sustainability: Water
Mikroflot Technologies offers a practical, low-cost that enables small to mid-sized facilities to eliminate contaminants from wastewater with minimal or no chemicals, low operating costs, and environmentally superior footprint.
Acoustic resonance air dispersion microflotation technology, which uses compressed air that has an acoustic wave pulsating in it to generate tiny air bubbles that float contaminants out of the water.
The contaminant muck is then skimmed from the water’s surface and stored in a tank until Mikroflot’s hauling service comes to collect it.
The use of acoustic waves requires much less energy to make its bubbles.
Similar technology is being used in the device called StarStream. It creates a whole new kind of cleaning solution by combining ultrasound waves and bubbles with regular cold water. Using a single nozzle, StarStream can load any liquid with ultrasonic cleaning bubbles, bringing micro-scrubbing power to plain old tap water or increasing the cleaning power of detergents.
As ultrasonic waves activate the stream of water from the StarStream nozzle, the oscillation of the sound waves turns every bubble into a tiny micro-scrubber in any liquid solution that can clean flat surfaces, cracks, crevices, and practically any tough-to-reach spot.
Thus, bubbles can be used to create a micro-scrubbing solution that could be used to clean all kinds of complex surfaces without bleach and chemical detergents.
Modifiable StarStreams could be attached to hand-washing stations in hospitals, or even regular sinks in public bathrooms everywhere.