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In British Colombia, Canada, a varied range of Cleantech products and services are being used to assist in industries associated with environmental issues. These technologies are helping industry perform in a more environmentally responsible way as well as increasing operational efficiency.
The Environment and Cleantech
Global warming, pollution and deforestation are three environmental challenges that are being met by Cleantech; an umbrella term that includes any technology reducing negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of resources, or environmental protection activities. Typical examples of Cleantech include renewable energy sources, electric motors, and green chemistry.
Despite worldwide investment in Cleantech falling by 16% in 2016, massive inroads have been made in its industries, with the amount of wind and solar energy connected to power grids gaining 19%. The prices of solar panels, wind turbines and batteries have fallen dramatically and forecasters are looking forward to a future world where many more people use electric cars and oil prices fall dramatically. What is more, investment in Cleantech outstrips conventional energy by two to one; humanity’s pledge to protect the environment is real, and makes for an exciting time.
In a refreshing demonstration of innovation, Cleantech is now being utilised in numerous industries sometimes conflicted with environmental considerations. British Colombia’s Innovation Council’s (BCIC) Ignite fund was awarded to three Cleantech companies specialising in hydrogen engines, high tech sensors and water treatment. These ventures are redefining what Cleantech is and what we can do with it.
AxineTM water technologies were developed to remove ammonia and organic contaminants from petroleum industry wastewater, at a fraction of the cost of current systems. This has been achieved by electrochemical and catalytic means, in a single step process leading to decreases in energy consumption and toxic chemical waste. AxineTM electrodes do not corrode, so they do not need to be replaced, decreasing metal waste.
HydraTM engines have been developed that use hydrogen gas or a diesel-hydrogen mix. HydraTM will kit out a company’s entire fleet for free; the only cost is the hydrogen fuel, and this dynamic company promises users will save more than they spend by offering multi-term fixed price contracts. Compared to conventional systems and modern fuel cells, HydraTM engines are more flexible and efficient; and, when running on hydrogen alone, produce no carbon dioxide.
In today’s metal-hungry world, mining is unavoidable but the environmental damage associated with it is not. Several attractive products have been released into the market with encouraging results.
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MinesenseTM technologies make mining more efficient, leading to less pollution and less environmental disturbance. This is achieved by integrated belt and shovel based systems that scan ores by High Frequency ElectroMagnetic Spectroscopy (HFEMS) and High Speed X-Ray Fluorescent (HSXRF) technologies, allowing low grade ores to be sorted and the rejection of waste. Analysis and sorting before ore processing allows mining operations to use less chemicals, water and energy. This system has seen its first commercial operation in British Colombia with funding secured to begin operations in Chile.
ExcelsenseTM Technologies produces cameras for machine vision and surveillance in the harsh industrial environments found in resource-based industries. ToughEyeTM is a self-cleaning camera which can operate in dirty, oily, wet and dusty environments continuously. Sensors detect contamination and the camera withdraws into its sleeve, re-emerging clean; it’s a simple idea that has applications in many heavy industries, such as mining and sawmills. Guidelines for camera maintenance are rarely followed, leading to the poor performance of even the best designed monitoring systems. With ToughEyeTM, no maintenance is required for the life of the camera; the industrial processes can be observed correctly whatever the conditions, leading to more efficient working practises and less waste. There are no requirement for detergents or nozzles, reducing maintenance and points of failure; allowing the camera to be installed and then forgotten about. In addition to its revolutionary self-cleaning lens, ToughEyeTM can operate in the coldest and hottest places on earth as well as under conditions of high vibration and shock.
Cleantech isn’t just about absolute alternatives to the status quo, it also involves providing solutions to the challenges faced by industry right now by making current systems cleaner, safer and more efficient. These cross over technologies will assist in the transition to a low carbon world where environmental concerns are at the forefront of our decisions about future technology.
- Hydra-energy. Available at: http://hydra-energy.ca/.
- Axinewater. Available at: http://www.axinewater.com/.
- Ryan, J. Clean Energy Spending Drops Most on Record as China Slows Growth. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-12/clean-energy-spending-drops-most-on-record-as-china-slows-growth.
- Minesense. Available at: minesense.com
- Excelsense Technologies. Available at: https://www.excelsensetechnologies.com/.