• What is Environmental Technology?

Environmental Laboratory

What is Environmental Technology?

Dec 05 2014

Current estimates suggest that there are 7 billion people sharing the planet with the natural world, competing for space and resources. Attempts to curb the negative impacts that humanity has on the natural world and the global environment puts serious issues like climate change high on the political agenda for many governments around the world. Alongside policy and governance, a new breed of technologies are helping humanity fine tune the delicate balance between the developed and natural world.

Environmental technology, also known as ‘green’ or ‘clean’ technology, refers to the application of environmental sciences in the development of new technologies which aim to conserve, monitor or reduce the harm humans regularly cause the environment while consuming its resources. Sustainable development sits at the core of environmental technology - adopted practices that fuel economic development by avoiding the depletion of natural resources and further polluting.

Put simply, environmental technologies aim to protect the environment. They offer ways of consuming which are less polluting or do so in a sustainable manner, and often provide new ways to avoid depletion of natural resources altogether. Prominent examples include solar and wind energy, water desalination (the removal of salt or other minerals from saline water), electric vehicles, and pyrolysis (thermochemical decomposition of organic material).

Innovative emerging environmental technologies

Dozens of new and innovative environmental technologies emerge every year, some ready for mass consumption, and many more at prototype and proof of concept stages - all ultimately connected by the desire to provide sustainable tools for our collective use. Here are a few examples of recent innovations which have the potential to influence and shape our future environmental processes.

A recent revolutionary breakthrough in plastics manufacturing by company, LightManufacturing uses heliostats (appliances with driven mirrors to reflect light) to concentrate and reflect the sun’s rays in order to melt plastic and make it moldable. Traditional plastic manufacturing uses fossil fuels as a feedstock of the product and to provide energy for the manufacturing process, but LightManufacturing’s innovative new process is entirely fossil fuel-free. The process is not limited to new plastics and can be used to mold recycled plastics too.

Within the realm of recycling and wastewater treatment, a physicist from the National Taiwan University, Din Ping Tsai has developed a low-power method for treating wastewater using ultraviolet light and zinc oxide applied to CD-ROMs. Abundant by the millions, CDs are now seldom used, and offer a cheap and readily available source for wastewater treatment. During recent trials in which the spinning disks consume very little power, the device broke down over 95% of the water contaminants after an hour of treatment.

Environmental monitoring

A significant part of environmental technology is environmental monitoring, which is the processes and activities performed in order to monitor the quality of the environment. Environmental monitoring has emerged as an essential component of governmental and private organisation policies across the globe. But how exactly do specialists draw samples and determine results? For more information on this topics, read: A Closer Look at Environmental Monitoring Sample Methods

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