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Science Fortnightly: Using Technology to Combat Climate Change

I have heard of ‘terrible’ or ‘unusual’ weather conditions much more frequently, lately. Just this week, heavy rainfall caused a Landslide in Sri Lanka burying over 200 families. Hotter Summers and Harsher Winters are reported almost seasonally. All of this brings us to ‘Climate Change’. Throughout human history we run into problems, we overcome them and  then run into new problems. However, we have known of Climate Change for many decades and we are no closer to solving the problem than we were when we first discovered it.  This time, I sat down to write about a  couple of the new research and technologies being developed to combat Climate change.

Although the direct cause of Climate change is the increasing levels of CO2, we can also say that the indirect cause of it was and still is the exponential development of technology. Having said that, I find it almost ironical that we have come up with a number of new ideas and technologies to help adapt to and mitigate Climate Change.  Supporting a growing population with finite resources is the greatest challenge for the development of these new technologies: innovations that can reduce environmental impact, and improve the way we live at the same time.

 

First up is Lights!

Some new everyday electronic appliances are already using OLEDs

The next in line to replace the LED is the almighty ‘OLED’.  Cheap and highly efficient, these  white Organic Light Emitting Diodes passes current through dyes to create white light. Plastic sheets or metal foils can be coated by nano-particle OLEDs that create energy-efficient light-emitting films no thicker than a sheet of paper. Researchers predict OLEDs will replace fluorescent tube lights by 2023.

Changing the paint to save on the Energy Bills!

Using a coat of insulating nano-paint in place of the normal paints can now help in reducing the cost of heating and cooling a home. One such paint already available in Australia contains nano-scopic balls of glass that reflect sunlight and reduce heat transfer, cutting your energy bills and reducing damage from mould, corrosion and UV light.

Newest in Power technologies!

Quantum dots are more formally known as ‘Infra-red thermovoltaics nano-scale crystals’. They are able to harvest the power from infra-red light, the warm part of sunlight. this means that Quantum dots could also work at night absorbing energy released from surfaces warmed by the previous day’s sunlight, such as buildings and roads. These crystals can be grown to a range of sizes and varying sizes increases the range of frequencies of IR that is absorbed.

Next step in Solar technologies!

Next generation solar cells will be flexible, thin and virtually transparent, suitable for lining windows or walls of buildings. ‘New anti-reflective technology’ has also led to stationary solar panels being able to absorb sunlight regardless of the sun’s position. Australian National University researchers were even able to come up with a way to trap light energy which is boosting  the efficiency and making solar power more competitive with fossil fuels.

Turning up the Air-Conditioner!

Researchers have found that adding copper oxide nano – particles to a mix of standard refrigerants and lubricants can improve heat transfer inside a cooler by 50 to 275 per cent. This improved efficiency could slash the energy required to run massive cooling systems like those used in factories, hospitals, shopping centers and ships

Most of these technologies are rising with the upcoming fields of bio-technology and nano-technology. I have only listed five ideas, but there are many ideas roaming around. If you want, look around!

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About Dinushi Mudalige

Hey!
I am a first year at UNSW and will write to Blitz about everything and anything related to Science!

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