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Everything posted by NathanHutt

  1. If there's one thing without which modern society would seize to exist, it's oil. (Well, living without Internet will also positively suck, but that's a whole different story right here.) Realistically speaking, for the time being, despite the billions of dollars that are being put into the development of green technologies, oil remains essential to the proper functioning of our lives. Oil supplies our factories and makes our means of transportation move, it helps trade, makes manufacturing and transportation of goods, including food and medicines, possible. All in all, we need oil to survive. But the huge demand for oil we've experienced since the Second Industrial Revolution comes at a great cost for the planet and respectively, for the entire human kind. Each year we drill about 14 trillion liters of oil. That alone has tremendous environmental consequences which are next to impossible to be countered because, hey, "Drill, baby, drill!". But there's another negative side of oil consumption, and it's the fact that during transportation a significant quantity of oil is spilled, thereby destroying entire ecosystems, polluting the habitat of all kinds of plant and animal species. And because oil is mostly transported across oceans, this is where most spills occur. The results are both immediate and long-term, so looking for ways to eliminate the spill and counter its effect is crucial for the preservation of Earth's oceans. But cleaning something so vast as an ocean is not an easy task. Luckily, technology has evolved and continues to rapidly do so to such an extent that we might already have a working solution to the issue – drones. We've seen drones being deployed in various places, efficiently handling all kinds of situations. Recently a startup in the Netherlands even introduced a project which aims to develop a fully functional house cleaning drone. So if the technology could be utilized for the needs of home cleaning, it's only natural for it to be used in the quest of preserving our oceans. Airborne Emergency Response to Oil SpillsHere's where AEROS (Airborne Emergency Response to Oil Spills) comes into play. Essentially, AEROS is an unmanned, robotic system which locates oils spills and deploys robots and inflatable booms at spill sites by an airplane. Once in the water, the booms inflate themselves and surround the spill. Then the unmanned robots start purging the water. The water-cleansing robots suck the contaminated water in and spin it inside. The swirl that forms leaves the oil at the center and then collects it in a special bladder, while it pushes the pure water outside. Each robot has an incredible capacity, filtrating over 7000 litres per minute. And the oil that is recovered, up to 90% of the spill, is later collected from the bladders and can be later sold as an additional stream of revenue. Just in comparison, the methods that is being used by far could only filtrate and recover about 5% of the oil. Protei ProjectThe Protei Project is another promising startup which aims to counter oil spills. The people behind this large-scale international project have developed a shape-shifting sailing robots which will patrol the oceans, clean up oil spills and collect plastic waste. The autonomous robots will essentially sail upwind, using the power of the wind, and pull a long boom-tail which will absorbs oil. What makes the Protei boat prototypes so innovative is their hulls which are flexible and are made to move left and right like a fish. That movement allows the drone boat to utilize the power of the wind to the fullest and never lose power, easily pulling the heavy boom tail. Large oil spills like the Deep Water Horizon in the Mexican Gulf don't happen too often, but when they do, the effects to the environment are catastrophic. And as I already mentioned, at that point in time it's impossible for oil companies to cease oil transportation, however, they can use technology to contain the spills and counter the negative impact of the spills. For now the technology is not market-ready, but with some backing it will be there we we most need it.
  2. One of the most prominent issues of concern to the entire global community are the water scarcities that are currently threatening us. Due to the evident climate changes, water shortages are becoming increasingly in number and intensifying. So bearing in mind the lack of fresh water and the vital need of fresh water resources to meet the rapidly growing demands of water, we certainly need all the help we can get. And so, many of us have found a simple, yet very efficient solution to that issue – rainwater harvesting. Simply put, rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting and more importantly, storing rainwater, which could be later use for all kinds of everyday purposes, like irrigation, doing laundry, toilet flushing and even showering. Furthermore, rainwater is probably the highest quality fresh water source available to us, and if collected and stored properly, it becomes the ideal sustainable source of water for our households. Besides the environmental sanity of rainwater harvesting, there is also an economical advantage to it. If managed properly, using rainwater could account for up to 85% drop in tap water consumption. Needless to say, that's a lot of money off your water bill. Besides contributing to preserving the environment and saving you money, making your home more water-efficient could potentially make your life a lot easier. In that case I'm referring to the water restrictions that some governments implement as a measure designed to decrease water consumption. Water restrictions are not an uncommon thing these days, especially in areas with warmer climate. And the dry countries in Africa are not the only ones who suffer. Developed nations, such as the USA and Australia for instance, have also seen their fair share of rigorous water restrictions and regulations. As some of the world's countries with the largest water consumption, we are all responsible for a considerable part of the water resources that are being wasted. So it only makes sense that we take the issue seriously and start managing water with more responsibility. And rainwater harvesting is undeniably the best way for you to do that. In some areas in Australia, governments are already requiring the installation of rainwater tanks during the construction of new homes. But if you want to install a rainwater collection system in your existing dwelling, no worries, it's also common for government authorities in Australia to provide partial funding to homeowners who want to do so. As with any piece of technology, rainwater harvesting systems vary considerably. Starting from the most primitive ones – yet quite efficient for the purposes of your household, consisting of a plain barrel placed beneath the downpipes of your house's gutters, to the more complex and sophisticated ones – made of bigger tanks, connected to the house's plumbing system, you definitely have a choice. How to Make Your Own Rainwater Harvesting System? In spite of the fact that it looks quite simple, rainwater harvesting also has its quirks that you better know of, if you want your DIY system to function properly and more importantly – safely. So, to begin with, you should be very careful in picking the right location for your rainwater collection tanks. Know that you mustn't place the barrels near septic tanks or utility services. Once you've picked the right location, place the tank under the downspout. Put some kind of a screen or a net on top of the barrel so as to filter out debris, leaves and insects, which might contaminate the water. Install a spigot about 10 to 15 centimetres above the bottom of the tank and make sure you place an overflow port to control the excess water in the tank. If you have a spare barrel, connect it to the first via the overflow port using a hose or a pipe. Maintenance is also of utmost importance. To that end, since your roof and gutters are crucial pieces of the rainwater harvesting system, contact some gutter cleaning professionals who will safely inspect and clean the roof and gutters for you. Installing gutter guards would also be of tremendous use, since after the initial clean they'll keep your gutters clean at all times. Also, come up with an annual maintenance schedule for the rain collection tanks. After all, being exposed to the varying weather conditions all year round will result in degradation and as a result, some cracks might appear. And that's it – the simplest, yet quite efficient way to contribute your share towards preserving the environment, and saving yourself some money in the process. Good luck!