The future is arriving sooner than you think. These three emerging technologies could change the way we live and travel and help us avert a climate disaster by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
1. Roads that Charge Electric Cars as They Drive
Holcim, a global company that creates sustainable building materials, has partnered with the German startup Magment to create a magnetizable concrete technology for road surfaces that enables electric vehicles to recharge wirelessly while in motion. Known as inductive charging, this breakthrough concrete-based solution reduces the need for charging stations while saving time — recharging stops will become a thing of the past. This breakthrough has been made possible by a unique concrete with high magnetic permeability. Collaboration is a hallmark of how Holcim operates and is key to creating breakthrough technologies. “Partnering with startups worldwide, we are constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation to lead the way in sustainability,” says Edelio Bermejo, head of the Holcim Global Innovation Center. As part of its open innovation ecosystem, led by the Innovation Center, the company works with more than 120 innovative startups worldwide, pioneering new technologies to accelerate our world’s transition to net zero. Other applications under development include the electrification of industrial floors to recharge robots and forklifts as they work. So how would you boost productivity with such an invention?
2. Making 100% Carbon-Neutral Jet Fuel from Sunlight and Air
Renewable, carbon-neutral kerosene is being developed by researchers at ETH Zürich, a public research university in the Zürich, Switzerland, founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with a mission to educate engineers and scientists. The process captures CO2 and water from the air, and these substances are split using concentrated solar energy. This produces a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide called syngas, which can then be processed into kerosene — the main ingredient in jet fuel. When burned, this fuel emits only the CO2 extracted from the air in the first place. The researchers at ETH Zürich have built a mini “solar refinery” on the roof of their university and say that their technology is now ready for industrial application. The manufacturing process would be ideal for desert regions where solar energy is plentiful and many poverty-stricken nations are found. There will also be no competition with agriculture for land. Might you be a jet fuel producer of the future?
3. The Ocean as a Renewable Energy Source
Brazilian company TidalWatt has created a new generation of underwater turbines that makes free energy from the movement of the ocean — an impressive 60 times more powerful than a wind turbine. These giant, submerged, and ecologically safe power plants are positioned in previously neglected regions and take advantage of powerful ocean currents — instead of tidal flows that typically move water back and forth in a less forceful way. Natural energy generation doesn’t stop and flows continuously, 24 hours a day. In addition to being utterly harmless to marine life, the massive underwater structures make trawling unfeasible and create ecological sanctuaries, favoring the emergence of artificial reefs. “The world’s oceans are a vast source of renewable energy that is always more predictable than wind and solar energy,” says TidalWatt founder Mauricio Otaviano de Queiroz. “I regard the ocean as an immense gold mine, the wealth of which is much more important for the good of humankind than valuable metal. It’s time we stopped despising this ocean wealth because the technology to exploit it cleanly, responsibly, and efficiently is now here.”