Eco-tech tricks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 March, 2009, 12:00am

Scientist and inventors around the world are working to harness advanced technology and save the environment. Young Post takes a look at some latest technologies that are making the Earth a better place to live.

1. Tele-conferencing

Travelling to meetings and conferences is expensive and time-consuming.

Climate ActionNetwork, a group of organisations that works to limit people's impact on the climate, says tele-conferencing is the way to reduce our travel and carbon footprints.

A two-day business trip to a place 1,000km away by one person equals about half a tonne of carbon, while a video conference uses none.

British Telecom, for example, has used video-conferencing technology to replace nearly 900,000 face-to-face meetings, eliminating 97,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission in one year.

The technology is a winner for both business and the environment, but it is still far from perfect.

The more people that join the less clear the video becomes, and interference from background noise also tends to become an issue. The challenge for developers is overcoming these problems.

2. Self-cleaning wall

Making use of photo-catalysts and nanotechnology, scientists have developed a self-cleaning technology to protect the exterior of buildings. Once the surface of a building has been coated with this innovative photo-catalyst, it can keep itself clean for years.

The photo catalyst decomposes organic pollutants such as mould, fungus and moss. Inorganic substances such as dirt are washed away by rain.

It is a technology that eliminates chemical detergents, machines and manpower, reducing chemical pollution and saving costs.

3. Tele-commuting

Imagine you don't have to travel to the office and can still work and communicate with your colleagues.

With telecommunications technologies, workers can work from home, which in turn hugely reduces carbon emissions since commuting is no longer necessary.

Traffic congestion is minimised, as are carbon emissions.

Tele-commuting has become popular with technology and research companies in the United States. It is a technology that perfectly suits small- and medium-size enterprises because it requires less office space.

4. Spray-on solar-power cells

Scientists have invented a plastic solar cell that can convert solar power into electrical energy, even on a cloudy day.

The plastic material uses nanotechnology and contains solar cells that can convert infrared rays from the sun into electricity.

Like paint, the plastic cells can be sprayed onto surfaces and used as a portable source of electricity. A sweater coated in the material could power a mobile phone, for example.

Researchers say in the future cars might be powered by their paint.