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Innovation - page 2

A solar refrigerator to combat famine

in Innovation by

Producing more food is not enough to achieve a zero-hunger generation. Read more

France: Paving the path to a sunny future

in Environment/Innovation/Renewable Energy by
© Joachim Bertrand / COLAS

It’s not the first time we talk about roads that actually act like large solar panels meant to distribute the generated energy to households, street lighting, traffic systems, and why not — electric vehicles driving over them. The first SolaRoad in the world — a 70-meter long bike path — that converts sunlight into electricity was built in Netherlands in 2014. But France enters the game with a much more ambitious plan of installing 600 miles (or 1,000 km) of solar roads in the next five years. We cannot wait to see it happen, and here’s why: one kilometer only of the roadway paved with Wattway panels will power the streetlights in a town of 5,000 inhabitants.

- © Joachim Bertrand / COLAS
© Joachim Bertrand / COLAS

Wattway panels are comprised of photovoltaic cells, which are embedded in a multilayer substrate and collect solar energy via a thin film of polycrystalline silicon that enables the production of electricity. On the underside of the panels there is a connection to a lateral module containing the electrical safety components. But there are several other facts about the Wattway panels that bring them to the top of the innovation list, when compared to other photovoltaics. The panels can be used on any road at any place in the world, are able to bear all types and sizes of existing vehicles, and are just seven millimeters thick but extremely strong and solid. Very important, Wattway panels are installed directly on the pavement, without additional civil engineering work required, such as deconstruction of the road and rebuild.

“Can you imagine our future roads serving not only our transportation and communication needs, but also covering most of our daily energy demands?”

So, can you imagine our future roads serving not only our transportation and communication needs, but also covering most of our daily energy demands?

And doing so in an environmentally friendly way through a renewable energy source. France’s big project, when passes the trial stage and once completed, will be supplying electricity to five million people. But this is just the beginning of the roads of the future, which have the competence to evolve into smart roads, and transmit live traffic information.

France’s goal is to design high-impact transportation environments by applying the idea of solar roads to bigger scale projects than what they were initially conceived for — pedestrian walkways, sidewalks and cycling routes. Although admittedly there is still research and testing in progress, in terms of the long-term vision there definitely will be benefits and positive implications in the battle to stop climate change.

Life in plastic can be fantastic!

in Environment/Innovation by

People produce garbage, and the more our population grows, the more waste we leave behind. But the amount of full bin bags that are disposed per day, isn’t only determined by our numbers — it’s also defined by our lifestyle, which is shifting into a more assiduous and complex way of life.


Plastic, a disposable material which is composed of major toxic pollutants, came as a relief in our busy lives that require fast solutions: open, empty, shove, replace. But what we have given little notice of is plastic’s resistance to decomposition, which makes its lifespan as long as 500 to 1,000 years.

A team of Japanese designers and engineers dared to ask the critical question: “for how long can we sustain this cycle of plastic accumulation?”, and knew that the answer isn’t comforting for the natural environment. Thus, they joined forces, and gave an alternative response to the plastic pollution — a gelatinous material obtained from red marine algae that can be used to replace the cheap, widely available and overused plastic.

Agar Plasticity is the environmentally friendly alternative to plastic … it can be disposed without upsetting the food chain, or harming the land, the air, and the water.

As explained to Good, Agar Plasticity is the environmentally friendly alternative to plastic because — alike plastic — it can disposed without upsetting the food chain, or harming the land, the air, and the water in the process. Agar absorbs and retains water quite well, and it can be used to improve water retention by mixing it with soil in a garden. Even if the agar ends up in the oceans, it won’t violate the marine life, given its original incarnation as marine material.

The process of making agar plastic is similar to the process that is used in Japanese cuisine, where agar is dissolved in water, heated and then cooled until it becomes gelatinous — a perfect ingredient for desserts. The agar powder is dissolved in simmering water and then poured into a mold. Once the agar sets into a jelly, the mold is frozen for two days.  The freezing process forms the agar into a structure that can provide cushioning for a packaged item. After two days, the frozen agar solution is thawed and completely air-dried.


Agar Plasticity is in its early stages, but the goal is to see it replacing mass consumption plastic products, which are harming organisms. In the meantime, we can take our own little step towards a less plastic-oriented lifestyle by incorporating small changes: shop with cloth shopping bags, carry water in reusable bottles, upcycle, use matches, and avoid items packaged in plastic.

Note:  AGAR PLASTICITY is a project by the designing team AMAM, and it is one of four finalists for the 2016 Lexus Design Award.

Solar-powered smart umbrella to help pilgrims during Hajj

in Innovation by

Hajj, the Muslims annual pilgrimage, seasons will come in hot weather for the next 10 years and many pilgrims may be subjected to sun strokes, warned a study conducted by the Institute of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Hajj and Umrah Research. To this end, a Saudi-Palestinian firm invented a smart umbrella for Muslims performing the Hajj pilgrimage scheduled from 9 to 14 September. Read more

Fuel cookies help families cook up a better future in Bhutan

in Innovation by

boutanHarmful smoke produced in homes where coal, wood or manure are used as cooking fuel, is killing hundreds of people every day. However, in Bhutan, Dazin has developed an intelligent alternative – and a financial model – to help Bhutanese families. The company invented the “fuel cookie”. Read more

Solar tent rescues Malawi’s dried fish industry

in Innovation by

solar malawi

It not only brings a smile to Malawi fishermen, but it also fills their wallets. The revolutionary solar drying tent was made available to them and stands a better life for the fishing community. Read more

Indian boy invents a low-cost portable Braille printer

in Innovation by
Shubham Banerjee
Shubham Banerjee

A 14-year-old boy of Indian-origin has invented a low-cost portable Braille printer. Shubham Banerjee is now working with technology giant Microsoft to integrate Braigo drivers with Windows to make it easily accessible to the visually-impaired. Read more

Recycle your plastic from machines you yourself create

in Innovation by

Create jobs while preserving nature. This is the ambition of Precious Plastic, which has developed a series of machines to recycle plastic and whose plans are broadcast free on the net. The creator of such machines is Dutch designer Dave Hakkens.

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An Indian produces edible cutlery to save the planet

in Innovation by

Spoon Bakeys

An Indian researcher in agriculture invents edible spoons that can be used to eat your food, and eaten up afterwards. Peesapaty Narayana has sold more than 1.5 million edible spoons in India. But his ambition goes well beyond his territory; he wants a massive production worldwide. Read more

Indian potter invent the clay refrigerator

in Innovation by
Manshuk Prajapati showing his clay refrigerator
Manshuk Prajapati showing his clay refrigerator

He is called the ‘Harry Potter’ of rural India. Mansukh Prajapati invented a clay refrigerator running without electricity and 100% recyclable. A boon for India where 500 million people are without electricity and / or cannot afford such a household appliance. He used his knowledge to create a successful company: Mitti Cool. It sells pottery but also various utensils such as pots, pans and kitchen sets. One of the items available is revolutionising India: the clay refrigerator. Read more

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