Building the World

March 2, 2022
by buildingtheworld
1 Comment

CITIES: Plastic – Part 4, The Promise

UNEP meets in Nairobi to draft global plastic treaty 2022. Image: “Nairobi night skyline.” by Nbi101, 2013. CC4.0 Wikimedia.

GLOBAL TREATY TO END PLASTIC POLLUTION: This week, 175 UN Member States are meeting in Nairobi to decide upon a legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution. “Ambitious action to beat plastic pollution should track the lifespan of plastic products – from source to sea – should be legally binding, accompanied by support to developing countries, backed by financing mechanism tracked by strong monitoring mechanisms, and incentivizing all stakeholders – including the private sector,” states Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP 2022).

UNEP logo. wikimedia

BUSINESS CAN LEAD THE WAY: While governments can agree, it is business and industry that will make the difference. Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) announced the switch to reusable and refillable packaging. Some of the brands may be familiar to you: Crest, Cascade, Gillette, Pampers, Pantene, and Tide all plan new packaging. Partnering with TerraCycle’s Loop program, P&G’s Ambition 2030 campaign will aim for a circular manufacturing process with as little plastic as possible. Some products like Pampers will come with a bin: when it is full, just text a pick-up service that will take your waste for repurposing and drop off a new container. TerraCycle partners with UPS helped to design packaging, with an eye to the role of transportation as “an enabler for circularity. UPS’ director for global sustainability believes “Loop is the signal for the future.” For more brand innovations, click here.

“Crest toothpaste,” photographer Scott Ehardt, 2005. Dedicated to the public domain by Scott Ehardt. Wikimedia.

TRASH OR TREASURE? Most plastic packaging is used only once. Only 14% of plastic collected is recycled. But it’s more than just trash – it’s valuable. Yet, 95% of that value – mainly of plastic packaging material – is lost to the economy. It is worth $100 billion – annually. (Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2022).

Reused and recycled plastic is not trash; it is a commodity of value. Image: “Money Flat Icon GIF Animataion by videoplasty.com, CC 4.0 Wikimedia.

PLASTIC OF THE FUTURE Here are some ways to end plastic pollution:

Innovate so all plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable

Ensure future plastics are free from hazardous chemicals

Catch and filter plastic trash carried by rivers (93% from just a few main rivers)

Redesign the plastics system from source to sea

Set up collection, regulatory, and policy government guidelines

Join UNEP agreement with government and business to solve plastic pollution

Transform recycled and reused plastic into a commodity of value

READ the Draft Resolution, “End plastic pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument.” 2 March 2022. HERE.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “Plastics and The Circular Economy.” https://archive.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/explore/plastics-and-the-circular-economy

Ivanova, Maria. Moderator: “Looking Back: 50 Years of the UN Environment Programme.” 4 March 2022.UNEP and Center for Governance & Sustainability, University of Massachusetts Boston.  https://www.environmentalgovernance.org/unepdialogue

Szczepanski, Mallory. “The Loop shopping system aims to change the world’s reliance on single-use packaging.” 6 February 2019. Waste360. https://www.waste360.com/waste-reduction/terracycle-partners-major-brands-launch-sustainable-shopping-system

UNEP. “UN Environment Assembly opens with all eyes on a global agreement on plastic pollution,” 28 February 2022. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/un-environment-assembly-opens-all-eyes-global-agreemen-plastic

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Un

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

February 25, 2022
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

CITIES: Plastic – Part 3, The Carriers

“The first turn of the Yangtze River at Shigu, where the river turns 180 degrees from south to north-bound.” Jialiang Gao, www.peace-on-earth.org, 1 February 2003. CC by SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Cities are where most plastic is used, and then discarded. But how does it get into the sea? By 2050, there may be more plastic in the oceans than marine life. It is time to act. And we know what to do, and where to do it.

According the the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, “Rivers carry trash over long distances and connect nearly all land surfaces with the oceans.” (Patel 2018). Rivers deliver up to 2 million metric tons pf plastic into the seas. We now know which rivers contribute 93% of trash and plastic clogging the world’s oceans.

Top Rivers Carrying Plastic to the Oceans

Yangtze River

Yellow River

Hai River

Nile River

Meghna, Brahmaputra, Ganges Rivers

Pearl River

Amur River

Ganges River

Niger River

Nile River

Mekong River

Source: Schmidt, Christian et al., 2017

Could the engineering that led to the great success of Grand Canal of China now address rivers in that system that carry plastic? Might the achievement of the High Dam at Aswan have a second calling to filter plastic from the Nile River?

“Nile River in Aswan,” Ibrahim El-Mezayen, 12 February 2016. CC4.0, Creative Commons, Wikimedia.

Many of the world’s greatest successes came from crises, failures, and problems. Now that we know which rivers are carrying plastic, what kinds of solutions and innovations, such as filters and collection devices, can be fitted on these rivers to stop the flow of plastic?

Patel, Prachi. “Stemming the Plastic Tide: 10 Rovers Contribute Most of the Plastic in the Oceans. 1 February 2018. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stemming-the-plastic-tide-10-rivers-contribute-most-of-the-plastic-in-the-oceans/

Schmidt, Christian, et al., “Export of Plastic Debris by Rivers into the Sea,” Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 51, No. 21, 7 November 2017. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.7b02368

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Un

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

October 15, 2021
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

TRANSPORT: supply chain reaction

The Silk Road was an early transport and supply chain network. Image: “Seidenstrasse GMT” 2005 by Captain Blood, GNU free license, wikimedia commons.

From the Silk Road to the Suez Canal, transporting goods has shaped civilization, stimulated cultural exchange, and truly united the world. Presently, the global supply chain is in the news. Cargo tankers are stalled in ports, dock unloading is stalled by COVID restrictions, trucks are waiting for drivers, warehouses are stuffed with unshipped goods, local stores are limiting purchases and warning shoppers to buy early. All this costs both time and money: McKinsey reports shipping costs are six times higher than in 2019. (Hall 2021)

“Where is shipping heading?” Photo: Fleet 5. by U.S> Navy/PH3 Alta I. Cutler. ID: 020418-N-1587 C-030. Source: United States Navy. Image: wikimedia commons.

While government has stepped in, opening certain ports 24/7; and private enterprise has stepped up, chartering their own ships and diverting them to less congested ports; what will happen after the holiday buying season? Some say it is an opportunity for autonomous transport. Maritime shipping is exploring options. Experiments on inland waterways by the Collaborative Autonomous Shipping Experiment (CASE) in cooperation with Belgium, China, Italy, and the Netherlands, noted that control algorithms should be coordinated. Vessels are usually owned and operated by different parties, and use proprietary systems for control and navigation. Results produced simulation models that may help develop shared systems.

“Will autonomous trucks change the supply chain reaction?” Photo by epsos.de, https://www.flickr.com/photos/36495803@NO5/5591761716. Image: wikimedia commons. CC2.0

When ships are unloaded, trains and trucks take over: autonomous trucking is advancing rapidly. Embark Trucks, and Locomation, join TuSimple, Plus, and Aurora in the race for innovation and investment in autonomous trucking. Advances in trucking will change the supply chain: 68% of all freight comes to you on a truck.

“Supply Chain Network” graphic by David Pogrebeshsky, 2015. Image: wikimedia commons cc4.0

Analysts predict the supply chain will recover by 2022, but will it ever be the same? We hear a lot about self-driving cars, but there is also significant innovation in shipping and trucking. Autonomous transport may cause a supply chain reaction.

Aurora. https://aurora.tech

Efrati, Amir. “Two More Self-Driving-Truck Developers Consider Public Offerings.” 9 June 2021. The Information. https://www.theinformation.com/articles/two-more-self-driving-truck-developers-consider-public-offerings

Embark Trucks. https://embarktrucks.com

Farooque, Faizan. “4 Self-Driving Truck Stocks You Need to Keep an Eye on.”  9 September 2021. NASDAQ.com. https://investorplacecom/2021/09/4-self-driving-truck-stocks-you-need-to-keep-an-eye-on/

Hall, Claire. “Supply Chain Disruptions Create Shortages of Goods Just in Time for the Holidays.” University of Connecticut interview with Professor Tao Lu, Operations and Information Management Systems. 12 October 2021. https://today.uconn.edu/2021/10/supply-chain-disruptions-create-shortages-of-goods-just-in-tme-for-the-holidays/

Haseltalab, Ali, et al., “The Collaborative Autonomous Shipping Experiment (CASE): Motivations, Theory, Infrastructure, and Experimental Challenges. International Ship Control Systems Symposium (ISCSS) 2020, Delft, The Netherlands. For Project: Navigation and Path Planning of Marine Vehicles. DOI:10.24868/issn.2631-8741.2020.014

Inland Waterways International. https://inlandwaterwaysinternational.org

Locomation. https://locomation.ai

Metzger, Joe, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain Operations, Walmart US, “How Walmart is Navigating the Supply Chain to Deliver this Holiday Season.” 8 October 2021. https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2021/10/08/how-walmart-is-navigating-the-supply-chain-to-deliver-this-holiday-season

Plus. https://www.plus.ai

TuSimple. https://www.tusimple.com

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unp

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

August 2, 2021
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

WATER: Microplastic Filter Innovations

Microplastics in four rivers – Image. “Microplastics in freshwater ecosystems: what we know and what we need to know.” by Martin Wagner, et al., Environmental Sciences Europe. 26, 2014. doi: 10:1186/s12302-014-0012.7

Did you know that 35% of the plastic in our water is microfibers? Those microfibers come from our clothing, released into the water supply during laundering. Microfibers are too small (0.5mm) to be captured by traditional filters. Currently, 2/3rds of clothing contains some percentage of synthetic materials. A typical washload of polyester clothing may shed 9,000,000 microfibres with every wash. Now there is something we can do to stop this problem: attaching a filter to washing machines to catch the microfibers. While the origin of microfibers in clothing is the garment industry, a major source of plastic microfibers is the effluence of laundry water. PlanetCare is expanding their product to a larger version for commercial laundries. 

“SEM picture of a bend in a high-surface area polyester fiber with a seven-lobed cross section” by Pschemp, 2000. Image Wikimedia.

Other companies are developing microfiber filters for washing machines. Environmental Enhancements offers the Lint LUV-R. Xeros Technologies produces the XFiltra. Filtrol makes a similar product. Cora Ball and Guppyfriend use a different technology: devices that collect microfibers inside the washing machine during the laundry cycle. While attached filters catch more fibers (87%), these tend to be the longest ones; Cora Ball inserts and Guppyfriend washing bags capture 26%, mainly the smallest fibers. Using both approaches would increase success.

Fast Company “G-Star Raw x Planetcare collab to flight microfibre pollution.” 8 October 2019. https://www.fastcompany.co.za/business/g-star-raw-x-planetcare-collab-to-fight-microfibre-pollution

Kart, Jeff. “Science says laundry balls and filters are effective in keeping microfibers out of waterways.” 2019. Forbes.https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkart/2019/02/01/science-says-laundry-balls-and-filters-are-effective-in-removing-microfibers/?sh=208899e6e07a

Rabinovich, Ben. “World Oceans Day: Check out these amazing inventions currently cleaning our oceans.” 4 June 2019. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7104173/World-Oceans-Day-Check-amazing-inventions-currently-cleaning-oceans.html

Tuttan, Mark and Katie Pisa. “Washing your clothes is causing plastic pollution, but a simple filter could help.” 14 November 2019. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/14/world/microfiber-filter-plastic-pollution-int/index.html

Zupan, Mojca.  2019 YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD7iTYhAC_U

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unp

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

June 17, 2021
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

TRANSPORT: Linking the World

“Ancient Silk Road,” image: wikimedia commons.

The history of civilization may be measured by connection. First it was the Silk Road that connected cities; then it was the age of ships that created ports from Singapore to Suez.  Canals threaded connection through waterways, making one route from inland to sea: the Grand Canal, Canal des Deux Mers, Erie, Panama. Rail linked continents: the Trans-Continental, Canadian Pacific, and the Trans-Siberian united people across vast spans. But each of these achievements was a separate project.

“Belt and Road Initiative.” graphic design by Mathildem 16, 2020. Image: wikimedia.

BRI or B3W? Now, there are two plans to connect the world in a more comprehensive way: the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) announced and begun in 2013 by China, and the “Build Back Better for the World” (B3W) proposed by the G7 in 2021. China is ahead: more than 100 countries have signed BRI agreements. Some comment that the BRI is able to move quickly from plan to construction of new ports linked to rail and road routes, and also express concern regarding resourcing: financial, human, and natural. But some say that the G7 could take inspiration from Charlemagne who united disparate groups through links of education, as well as land and sea. The G7’s B3W may include capital to fund areas like climate, digital technology, health security, as well as transport.

Will B3W make waves of change? “47th G7 2021 Waves Logo,” wikimedia commons.

Climate change will cause a new vision. It is certain that the world needs rebuilding: old bridges, ports, rail, and roads are in dire need of replacement, while new infrastructure could transform many places not yet linked. Some have cited the Marshall Plan as precedent to rebuilding and linking a new vision of the world. Others may see different possibilities that include contemporary concerns. As BRI and B3W consider terms of engagement and goals of success, is there an opportunity to link the world through the values of inclusion, peace, and sustainable resilience?  What is your vision of an interconnected world?

Ruta, Michele. “Three Opportunities and Three Risks of the Belt and Road Initiative.” 4 May 2018. World Bank Blog. https://blogs.worldbank.org/trade/three-opportunities-and-three-risks-belt-and-road-initiative

Sanger, Davi. E. and Mark Landler. “Biden Tries to Rally G7 Nations to Counter China’s Influence.” 12 June 2021. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/12/world/europe/biden-china-g7html?referringSource=articleShare

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unp

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

July 4, 2020
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Sand Castles: rebuilding the desert

“My home is my castle,” photographer J. Triepke, 2014. Image: wikimedia.

Summer holidays, like the traditional Fourth of July, may be observed in different ways by diverse communities, but many people enjoy a refreshing visit to the beach. Some build sand castles. Now, there may be something more permanent. Architect Magnus Larsson proposes combining sand with bacterium Sporosarcina pasteurii (formerly known as Bacillus pasteurii); the process can produce biological cementation. You can build with it. Larsson wants to build a biologically-grown structure in the Sahara, perhaps in combination with the Great Green Wall of the Sahel. The architecture would support plantings, maybe even people, and won recognition from the LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction.

Could generative architecture rebuild the desert? Image: “Mojave Desert Cave,” by photographer Joshua Sortino. Wikimedia.

Globally, 1/3 of all arable earth is dry, and vulnerable to drought and eventually turning to sand. The Gobi desert of China and the Sahara of Africa are especially threatened, but deserts like the Mojave in North America seek sustainable solutions. “One billion grains of sand come into being – each second,” states Larsson. Innovations related to deserts and desertification, like Jason DeJong‘s findings and Larsson’s sandstone walls and habitats, or the Great Green Walls of the Sahara and Gobi, may help to rebuild the world.

DeJong, Jason. “Geo-Technical Engineering and Innovation.” Geo-Institute of ASCE and University of California, Davis. https://youtu.be/Jvm-D9INVWs

Larsson, Magnus. “Turning dunes into architecture.” TEDGlobal 2009. https://www.ted.com/talks/magnus_larsson_turning_dunes_into_architecture/.

LafargeHolcim.  Headquartered in Switzerland, the company employs more than 70,000 people in the development of cement, aggregates, and innovation in building materials. https:/www.lafargeholcim-foundation.org.

Swayamdipta Bhaduri, Nandini Debnath, Sushanta Mitra, Yang Liu, Aloke Kumar. “Miocrobiologically Induced Precipitation Mediated by Sporosarcina pasteurii,” Journal of Visualized Experiments. 2016; (110) 53253. doi: 10.3791/53253/. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4941918/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unp

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

May 31, 2019
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

WATER: antibiotics on tap

Pills of antibiotic cefalexin. Photographer: Sage Ross, 2014. Image: wikimedia commons.

Feeling sick? It may the drugs you just took when you drank a sip of coffee or a glass of water. Affecting not just humans but aquatic life, medications are entering the water as fast as plastic – they’re just harder to see.

Antibiotics have been found in 65% of over 70 world waterways tested. For example, a site in Bangladesh showed Metronidazole present at levels 300 times the safe limits (20,000 to 32,000 nanogram per liter (ng/l) guidelines set by AMR Industry Alliance). The most frequent contaminant? trimethoprim found at 301 of 711 river testing sites. Most prevalent antibiotic found at dangerous levels: Ciprofloxacin, in 51 of the 72 countries tested.

Chao Phraya River Drainage Basin. Image: wikimedia.

Rivers all over the world show similar results: Chao Phraya, Danube, Seine, Thames.  Some areas of the world suffer infected water more: Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan ranked highest of sites monitored. In general, Asia and Africa frequently exceeded safety limits for antibiotics but problems were also found in Europe, North and South America. In other words, it’s global.

Of course, antibiotics save lives. But that’s just the problem: growing global resistance to antibiotics, anti fungals, antivirals caused 700,000 deaths yearly due to drug-resistant diseases, among them tuberculosis. The United Nations’ Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance predicts that by 2030, over one million people will die every year due drug-resistant diseases.

PROBLEMS: Individuals are in no small part responsible: a study in California revealed half of all medications are discarded, often into the water supply. Another problem: even if we don’t intend to, individuals deposit drugs into the water supply.  People take a lot of drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter; our bodies metabolize only a percentage of the intake, excreting the rest into wastewater systems. And then there are the larger systemic depositors: hospitals try to return unused drugs to manufacturers obtaining a credit or at least assured safe disposal, but care and nursing facilities may not have such arrangements. Certainly drug manufacturers generate highly concentrated waste; downstream of a New York State pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, antibiotic concentrations showed levels 1,000 times higher than normal. And then there’s agriculture: poultry and livestock farming are responsible for two trillion pounds of animal waste filled with the hormones and antibiotics fed to the animals to optimize growth and marketability.

Antibiotics harm fish and aquatic life. Image: Giant Group, Georgia Aquarium, Wikimedia.

Other ways animals are affected? Aquatic life itself is changing: so much estrogen has entered rivers and ponds that male fish are showing genetic changes including the development of intersex fish, especially downstream of wastewater treatment plants: notable is Washington’s Potomac River.

Filters are one approach: water treatment plants have been successful at filtering out ibuprofen but couldn’t catch diclofenax, another pain reliever. Chlorine used in drinking water treatment does reduce bacteria and also degrades acetaminophen and the antibiotic sulfathiazole, and also carbamazepine (by 75%). Still, chemicals are getting into our bodies simply by turning on the tap: Southern Nevada Water Authority found antibiotics, antipsychotics, beta blockers, and tranquilizers in the drinking water as far back as 2010. It is only getting worse.

SOLUTIONS

Pharmaceutical systems include manufacturing, distribution, consumption, disposal, and waste treatment: each step of the process offers opportunities for intervention and innovation. Regulations, at a national, local, or global level, can be effective: compliance is now an industry with consultants like Stericycle with programs “designed to meet regulatory requirements.” Of course, pharmaceutical businesses have in-house programs and systems, including segregating hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are then sent to a Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF). It’s a big business: UBS and Vanguard are investors, along with 500 other financial funds. Stericycle has 22,000 employees: competitors include Republic Services with 36,000 and Waste Management with 42,000 employees. It’s a business of the future: pharmaceutical use shows no sign of decreasing, although there is a movement to encourage safer drugs.

Jardine Water Purification Plant, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Image: wikimedia.

Nations and cities can take action. Water facilities such as the Jardine Water Purification Plant in Chicago, Illinois, world’s largest by volume, draws water from the American Great Lakes for distribution to 390 million urban residents. Research and innovation here could lead the way. In Europe, Germany invested one billion euro in the last two decades to water infrastructure including wastewater collection and treatment, in some ways advancing beyond the EU’s Council Directive 98/83/EC.1

Waterways themselves can innovate. When the Roman Aqueducts were built, it was due to an increasingly polluted Tiber River. When London’s water supply from the Thames became problematic, a public-private system was developed: the New River. Will the Grand Canal of China, part of the Belt and Road Initiative, lead research and action to improve the aquatic environment ? Might Inland Waterways International champion ways to improve the health of rivers and other created waterways?

SOLUTION: YOU – What can you do?

Don’t purchase bulk or volume packaging, avoiding accumulation of unused or expired chemical formulations.

Never flush unused medications, vitamins, or supplements down the drain.

When you must dispose, trash/landfill is preferable to flush/water. First, remove pills from container (recycle container),  then crush the pills, add a bit of water, and seal the result in a strong plastic bag before placing in trash.

MORE

Boxall, Alistair. York Environmental Sustainability Institute, and SETAC Helsinki 2019: https://helsinki.setac.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SETAC-Helsinki-programme-book.pdf; and .https://www.york.ac.uk/yesi/news/pharmaceuticals/

Craft. “Stericycle Competitors and Alternatives.” https://craft.co/stericycle/competitors/

Fox, Kara. “The world’s rivers are contaminated with antibiotics, new study shows.” 27 May 2019, CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/27/health/antibiotics-contaminate-worlds-rivers-intl-scli/index.html.

Harvard University. “Drugs in the water.” June 2011, Harvard Health Letter. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/drugs-in-the-water.

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). https://www.setac.org

Stericycle.com NASDAQ: SRCK

University of York. “Antibiotics found in some of the world’s rivers exceed ‘safe’ levels, global study finds.” 27 May 2019. https://www.york.ac/uk/news-and-events/news/2019/research/antibiotics-found-in-some-of-worlds-rivers/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

October 20, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Building the Vegetable Kingdom

“Carrots of many colors” Image: USDA, Agricultural Research Service, IDK11611-1. Wikimedia commons.

Building a better world – with carrots. That crunchy veggie could be used to strengthen concrete, improving construction techniques, and the environment. Blending carrots into building products makes those materials as much as 80% stronger, according to Mohamed Saafi, Professor and Chair in Structural Integrity and Materials at Lancaster University. Not only stronger, carrot-fortified concrete also develops fewer cracks – the carrots seem to act like superglue – so less cement is required, resulting in a lower carbon output. Could it make a difference in our world? Yes. Cement is the source of 7% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Roman Bridge at Cangas. Image: wikimedia commons.

Ancient Rome built superior roads and bridges by using materials strengthened by a mix-in of volcanic ash. The Great Wall of China was initially built by compacting reeds and mud, a combination that proved stronger and easily scalable, since the materials were available onsite, important when building a 13,000 mile wall. Bridges on the Grand Canal are another example. Mix-ins have long strengthened building materials.

Meanwhile, the next time you munch on a carrot, consider what Christian Kemp-Griffin, CEO of CelluComp, explained: “Those fibers have strength characteristics in them. It’s the building blocks of the strength of a vegetable.” Because carrots contain so much water, only a very small amount of cellulose of a carrot will alter the property of cement, because water changes as cement hardens. Kemp-Griffin continued: “It’s not the physical fiber that’s causing the strength. It’s the way it holds water. There’s a chemical reaction happening between the fibers and the cement.”

“The Iconic Ohakune Carrot,” photographer: Jane Treadwell-Hoye, 2014. Ohakuna is New Zealand’s carrot capital. Image: wikimedia.

Finally, it’s free, or almost free. CelluComp uses industrial leftovers: carrot peels from those machines that give you pre-cut carrots. Beets are next; there’s a lot of beet pulp after sugar production; 20% of the world’s sugar is made from beets. Brazil leads in sugar production (mainly cane sugar, the other 80%); but building markets may take note of Russia, France, USA, Germany, and Turkey, largest producers of sugar beets. Or, building big with carrots may happen in New Zealand, home to Ohakune, and the big carrot pictured above.

CelluComp. “We develop micro fibrillated cellulose based on waste streams of root vegetables.” https://www.cellucomp.com/

CommodityBasis. “Sugar Prices and Producers.” https://www.commoditybasis.com/sugar_prices.

Drury, Jim. “Carrots could be key to making greener buildings, say researchers.” 19 October 2018. Reuters. (Includes video.)https://www.reuters.com/article/us-environment-concrete-carrot/carrots-could-be-key-to-making-greener-buildings-say-researchers-idUSKCN1MT1VA.

Economist. “Making buildings, cars, and planes from materials based on plant fibres.” 14 June 2018. https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2018/06/14/making-buildings-cars-and-planes-from-materials-based-on-plant-fibres/

Saadi, Mohamed. Research Portal. http://www.research.lancs.ac.uk/portal/en/people/mohamed-saafi(355a81a6-210e-4f37-a495-a387b16506c1.html.

Statista. “Leading sugar beet producers worldwide in 2016, based on production volume.” https://www.statista.com/statistics/264670/top-sugar-beet-producers-worldwide-by-volume/.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

May 10, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Hail to the Ride

Didi’s app logo. Image: wikimedia.

Next time you hail a ride, consider this: China’s ride-hailing market is already greater than the entire world’s combined, at $30 billion. The United States ride-hailing market is $12 billion. A report by Bain & Company predicts China’s market will soon double. China’s equivalent of Uber and Lyft is Didi Chuxing. In fact, Didi bought out Uber’s China operations in 2016, giving the company instead a 18% stake in Didi. But only 40% of ride requests arrive via the Didi app; equally powerful are Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Allpay. Order movie tickets and dinner along with your ride? Do it in one click with Meituan Dianping, with 320 million users. Bain’s Raymond Tsang estimates China’s ride-hailing market will reach $72 billion by 2020. The advent of self-driving vehicles may be part of the strategy: Didi is an AI and autonomous conglomerate. When the United States Transcontinental Railroad was built, telegraph communications infrastructure was laid under the tracks. Will ride-hailing vehicle and communications infrastructure be planned as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, bringing the New Silk Road into the future?

Pham, Sherisse. “China’s $30 billion ride-hailing market could double by 2020.” 15 May 2018. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/15/technology/china-ride-hailing-market/index.html. Includes link to a video on Didi’s expansion into Brazil.

Alibaba Holding Group: stock symbol: BABA

Didi Chuxing: http://ww.didichuxing.com

Tencent: stock symbol: TCEHY

For telegraph infrastructure combined with transport building, see sections 18 and 19 of “An Act to aid in the Construction of a Railroad and Telegraph Line,” 1 July, 1862. Building the World, pages 237-238.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

March 22, 2018
by buildingtheworld
0 comments

Water Day: Wear Blue

World Water Day: Wear Blue. Indigo, popular 5,000 years ago in the Indus Vally where the color gets its name, was called nila. The color dye was popular on the Silk Road. Image: wikimedia

World Water Day: March 22, 2018. We’re an increasingly thirsty world: by 2050, one-third of the planet will suffer water scarcity. Climate change intensifies problems: floods and drought are worse. More than 3 billion people suffer diminished access to water for at least one month each year due to drought: that number is set to increase by 2050 to 5 billion. Mitigating influences of forests and wetlands are vanishing: two-thirds have been cut or built upon since 1900, according to a study released by the United Nations. Rivers are polluted, with ten rivers identified as the major source of marine plastic debris. Think those problems are “elsewhere” and you may be alarmed to find 80% of tap water contains microplastics. What can you do, as an individual? Social scientists observe the original days of the week had a dedicatory purpose, still detectable in the names. For example, the Japanese day Suiyōbi is Wednesday, meaning Water Day. Should we rededicate the days of the week to raise awareness of our shared resources, including water? One fashion leader suggests wearing blue as a way to honor water. Would you consider dedicating one day each week to water?

Schlanger, Zoë. “We can’t engineer our way out of an impending water scarcity epidemic.” 21 March 2018. Quartz Media. https://qz.com/1234012/we-cant-engineer-our-way-out-of-an-impending-water-scarcity-epidemic/

World Water Day. http://worldwaterday.org

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Skip to toolbar