(Pocket-lint) - The human race has sadly been devastating the planet for a while now but clever bods are always working on ways to save the environment.
We've collected some of the most interesting uses of technology that mankind is currently employing to better our world and undo some of the damage we've done to it.
- 34 crazy inventions, you won't believe what you're about to see
- 24 weird and wonderful life-changing tech from around the world
Ocean pollution removal
We all know how much of an issue waste is. Especially in the oceans and waterways. Plastic pollution is especially problematic.
Seabin is one clever solution to tackle the issue. This is a simple, yet brilliant gadget that works like a drain. It floats on the ocean and functions like a drain. As water washes over the top it collections rubbish inside. Then can be emptied in a more environmentally friendly way.
Solar panel roads
Using renewable energies is clearly an important part of saving the environment and every little action helps.
Roads obviously take up a large amount of space in the developed world. Now researchers are attempting to make the most of them with tech.
Here photovoltaic solar panels encased in textured glass can be used in place of standard tarmac. The energy can not only be used to send electricity to the national grid but also to heat the roads and make them safer.
Having solar panels on your house obviously helps as using the sun's rays to generate energy rather than using coal or other fossil fuels is much better for the environment.
Researchers at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, have managed to create a material that can be used with regular house bricks to turn them into energy storing devices.
Combine these bricks with solar panels and the house can potentially store and distribute energy in many useful ways.
Solar glass panels
Researchers at the University of Michigan have been working on transparent window material that can generate energy.
These glass panels could be installed in place of normal windows, making it much easier to add solar panels to your home.
The research suggests that this glass could account for as much as 40 per cent of US electricity generation if it was installed in enough homes.
Plastic eating microbots
Along with Seabin there are other technologies being developed to help deal with plastic waste in the ocean.
One such thing is the use of self-propelled microrobots designed to use visible light to break down dangerous plastic waste and help save the seas.
Carbon friendly computing
Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 but just more recently the company has also taken steps to move towards 24x7 carbon-free energy.
This includes employing logic at its data centres where the heavy workloads are done during times when renewable energy is most abundant. This means when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, more work is carried out - using less fossil fuel power than it would otherwise.
This sort of attitude is obviously a great way for a business to help reduce its impact on the environment and the more companies doing this the better.
Tesla Solar Roof
Solar panels are great, but Tesla has been thinking even bigger with solar tiles that can cover your entire roof without ruining the overall aesthetic.
The Tesla Solar Roof is perhaps a vision of the future for homeowners too as it not only covers the whole house, but also generates and stores energy and allows you to have uninterrupted power even if there are issues with the national grid. The more people who have solar panels the better.
This is the world’s most powerful tidal turbine. It's known as the O2 and was crafted by Scottish engineering firm Orbital Marine Power.
It's 74m long and designed to work in the waters off Orkney for the next 15 years providing clean power for 2,000 homes.
The turbine is interesting as it will power the EMEC’s land-based electrolyzer which then, in turn, generates green hydrogen that can be used as a fuel source. That hydrogen obviously has the benefit of not being sourced from fossil fuels so there are essentially two sources of energy from one piece of technology.
The turbine works by generating energy as its blades are moved by the rise and fall of the tide and ocean's currents. This is apparently better than wind and solar power as it's more predictable.
Graphene isn't a technology as such, but instead it may well feature in many future technologies and those with a wide range of planet-healing abilities too.
Graphene is a material that was originally discovered by the University of Manchester. It's made from an ultra-thin layer of graphite and is said to have many awesome qualities such as being flexible, transparent, conductive and more. Meaning it can be used in everything from water filtration to photovoltaic uses.
Cars and vehicles, in general, are a big part of the problem.
We need them to get from place to place, to deliver our goods, to go to work, to travel and more but traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles are polluting the world.
Electric vehicles are the future and the sooner we adopt them the better off the world will be.
Solar panel vehicle roofing
Electric vehicles are all good and well. But if you have to plug them into a fossil fuel-powered charging point to juice them back up.
One solution to this may be solar-powered panels. A solar sunroof, for example, could be a good way to boost a vehicle's charge in good weather.
Meat is a problem. People love to eat it, but research shows that livestock is responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gases.
That means cows and other animals are a big problem, but it's not like it's their fault.
Lab-grown meat is potentially the answer. Moving to it would reduce the impact on the planet, as we wouldn't be breeding animals for slaughter and all the knock-on impact that comes with production and transport.
Researchers have also managed to create cultured lab-grown meats that have a realistic structure and taste like real meat.
3D printed food stuffs
There's lab-grown meat and then there's 3D printed food. Printed food doesn't sound that appetising but as technology progresses you might be able to print some cakes, pizza or something equally as delicious.
Carbon Capture and Storage
Carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of global warming.
Carbon Capture and Storage is one solution. This is a technology that removes carbon dioxide from gases that are produced during the generation of electricity.
The carbon is then removed and stored, rather than being let loose into the atmosphere.
Buildings that absorb CO2
Trees are awesome, aren't they? Sucking in CO2 we exhale while helping to keep our air breathable. But there aren't enough of them.
EcoLogic Studio has come up with an interesting solution that's essentially an algae-based outer shell for buildings. This technology known as PhotoSynthetica sucks in polluted air, captures the CO2 in the algae then releases photosynthesized oxygen back into the surroundings.
The algae can then be used as a fertiliser.
Batteries that get better
A new battery technology is expected to hit production in 2022. Known as the lithium-glass battery it's said to have twice the energy of traditional lithium-ion batteries and better still, its capacity gets better with use. Meaning it's capable of storing more power over time. It's also said to be quicker to charge, safer to use and costs less to make too.
Electricity from air
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have crafted a technology that can create electricity using the moisture in the air around us.
It uses electrically conductive protein nano wires to generate electricity essentially out of thin air.
This is another source of renewable energy that we could see more of in future and one that can be used anywhere. Even indoors.
Turning bottles into sand
In 2017, New Zealand brewers DB Breweries created a machine that was able to crush beer bottles and turn them into sand.
The idea being that the resulting sand could then be used to supply the construction industry and work as a substitute for taking sand from the local beaches.
The bonus is people have more visibility of recycling in action thereby encouraging them to recycle more in future.
Edible six pack rings
Saltwater Brewery released beer six-pack rings that are 100 per cent biodegradable and edible too.
Made from barley and wheat ribbons these rings are able to be safely eaten by animals and ocean wildlife.
This is a great move as plastic rings are notoriously bad for wildlife and a simple change like this can make a big difference to our world.
Ink made from air
Graviky Labs managed to develop a process to turn carbon soot from vehicle exhaust into high-quality black ink.
AIR-INK as it's known is great because it results in less environmental impact than normal ink production and is making use of otherwise harmful byproducts of our fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Clever stuff.
Trainers made from coffee
A sustainable fashion brand from Helsinki is making interesting waves in the footwear industry with trainers made from the waste from coffee cups and recycled plastic bottles.
The Nomad performance sneakers are crafted from a mix of coffee waste and recycled polyester and yet are still waterproof and suitable for high-performance sports.
Rens has been at it for a while too. Recycling an impressive 250,000 plastic bottles and 750,000 cups of coffee into footwear.
Aquaponics is an interesting and sustainable farming solution. It works quite simply by combining fish tanks with plants. Fish naturally produce waste, but that waste is full of nutrients that can be used as fertiliser.
By passing the water through a hydroponics system, the plants get to feed and at the same time remove the nitrogen waste from the water which is then returned to the fish tank.