The Clean Tech News
The Energy Observer: developing pioneering technology on our oceans

CleanTech News has spoken to Louis-Noël Viviès, General Director of Energy Observer, an innovative and pioneering catamaran dedicated to developing cutting-edge sustainable energy technology.
The Energy Observer project, born in 2013, is a laboratory for ecological transition designed to push back the limits of zero-emission technologies. It is a 100% energy self-sufficient boat which sails around the world to prove the usefulness of sustainable technology.

Hydrogen, solar, wind and water power are all experimented with and tested onboard. This is with the hope to make clean energies a practical reality for all. Their mission is, “through expeditions and innovations, Energy Observer is exploring practical solutions whilst developing new technologies to accelerate ecological transition”.

Using a hydrogen fuel cell made with help from Toyota, the boat is also covered in solar panels is making its own hydrogen fuel from the seawater underneath. Their cutting-edge technology generates enough energy to power nine homes each day.

The Energy Observer: developing pioneering technology on our oceans – CleanTech News
Energy Observer Productions – George Conty
During the day, the 200 square meters of solar panels charge up the boat’s lithium-ion batteries. Any extra energy is stored as hydrogen. This is thanks to a special fuel cell called Range Extender H2 (Rex H2) which was made by Toyota.

Rex H2 was made using components from Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai vehicle line. The technology removes salt from the seawater it brings in, then separates the hydrogen from the water with electricity.

Speaking to CleanTech News, Louis-Noël Viviès, General Director of Energy Observer stated:

The maritime industry is one of the biggest fuel consumers and therefore polluter. The industry is looking for concrete solutions, affordable and reliable if they want to achieve their goals.

The IMO (International Maritime Organisation) has a target of a reduction of 50% of the GHG (Green House Gases) by 2050 (Compared to 2008 levels). We strongly believe in hydrogen as a good solution to store clean energies onboard, but we work on many other technologies for the maritime industry too.”

In conversation with Louis-Noël Viviès
What makes your technology unique?
The work we have done during more than 30,000 miles on corrosion, cooling and warming systems, vibrations, on hydrogen and clean energy systems, in the most demanding conditions. And the way we make them work together. If it works at sea, it will be reliable and durable on the land! Energy Observer is just pushing third parties technologies and combining them, in the worst conditions to get them affordable sooner than if they were developed on land.

What are your sustainability goals?
Provide affordable and user-friendly solutions to the maritime and outdoor communities, avoiding millions of tons of CO2. A fuel cell lasts more than 15,000 working hours with no maintenance, much more sustainable than any combustion engine (about three times more).

Why did you choose to incorporate more than one green technology into your vessel?
As previously told, we are not fanatics about one single technology. We use hydrogen storage mixed with battery storage, aero systems with hydro optimisation. The best and cheapest energy is the one you do not consume so that it’s much more efficient to make renewables work together. That’s why the hydrogen is so important, as it allows to store energy on a long term basis.

For instance, if you use the good propellers simultaneously with the OceanWings, you will create enough apparent wind to optimise the efficiency of the wings. Same as in America’s Cup flying boats: you create your own wind and a brand new virtuous circle.

Diversity of technologies, of energy sources, of cultures, that’s the key. And we believe it will be the key for land-based smart-grids too. Use solar energy if available, and/or wind, and/or geothermal, bio-gases or gravity where you can, mix them to avoid intermittency – and store your surplus in hydrogen!

Why do you think Energy Observer is a genuine experimental platform for future energies?
Because she sails in very rough conditions, in the Arctic ice, in the hottest waters and countries, crosses oceans, gales. And the engineers are trapped onboard once the boat has left for a passage: they live 24/7 on the computers, tanks, fuel cells, actuators, systems and need to get them reliable for their own safety or comfort. Future energies will have a future if they actually work in any kind of conditions, not only in a clean and dry laboratory…

The Energy Observer: developing pioneering technology on our oceans – CleanTech News
Energy Observer Productions – Amelie Conty
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your company’s vision?
The Covid-19 did not affect our vision: we desperately need to save the biodiversity and the last wild areas which protect us from these viruses. We now have to take concrete actions to save the existence of the mammals on this planet, including human beings. This means to offer autonomy and self-sufficient sources of energy and food everywhere, even in the most remote or poor areas. It is the only way to avoid massive deforestation and migrations, useless transportations of petrol, and many other consequences as wars for energy. We have a Cortex, not only a striatum, and we should use it before it’s too late.

What are the company’s goals for the future?
For the very near future, we will offer affordable hydrogen solutions for our communities: clean and silent power generators, affordable smart-grid solutions, energy management software. And convince market leaders to invest with us in these technologies, that would be a real achievement because we would have moved the lines! On the other hand, we work on a new boat-laboratory project that would not only be self-sufficient in energy but in food too for the crew! After all, many of us are French and food is a serious matter. A kind of eco-Waterworld of the 21st century, able to resist to any oceans rise…

With innovative and pioneering technology in development on Energy Observer, along with advancements in the sailing industry, it is strikingly clear that individuals and companies are dedicated to cleaning up the maritime industry.

Etihad Airways and Boeing leading the way towards “blue sky” opportunities

Etihad Airways and Boeing are working together to ‘lead the industry towards a sustainable future’ and improve airspace efficiency.
Etihad Airways and Boeing are extending their partnership with a sustainability-focused ecoDemonstrator testing. The pair, who will work together starting in August, is on the seventh iteration of the ecoDemonstrator programme which tests innovative technologies in the air.

This partnership aims to build on the core innovation and sustainability tenets of their strategic partnership signed back in November 2019.

The ecoDemonstrator programme’s goal is to make commercial aviation safer and more sustainable, now and in the future. It will do this by utilising commercial aircraft as flying testbeds to accelerate technology development.

Excitingly, the 2020 programme will be the first to use a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. This plane is the newest member of the ‘super-efficient’ 787 family.

Concerning the extension of their partnership, Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group’s Chief Executive Officer has stated:

This is the latest programme under Etihad’s industry-leading strategic partnership with Boeing, focusing on innovating real-world solutions to the key sustainability challenges facing the aviation industry.”

Exploring “blue sky” opportunities to improve airspace efficiency, the programme aims to reduce fuel use and cut out CO2 emissions. It will also leverage the Etihad Greenliner programme as part of the broader Etihad-Boeing Strategic Partnership to test cutting-edge technologies.

When we launched the partnership with the announcement of the Etihad Greenliner programme at the Dubai Airshow last year, we promised it was just the beginning of a deep, structural partnership between our two organisations that would go on to lead the industry towards a sustainable future.

The ecoDemonstrator programme is founded on innovation and sustainability. These are core values for Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi, and the United Arab Emirates, and Etihad and Boeing see a great opportunity to collaborate and share knowledge to minimise the impact of aviation on the environment,” Douglas continued.

A clean future for aviation
Boeing and Etihad are going to work will leading partners, including NASA and Safran Landing Systems, in the programme. This is to conduct aircraft noise measurements from sensors on the airplane and the ground.

Using data from these measurements, they will validate aircraft noise prediction processes. Not only this, but they will be able to validate the sound reduction potential of aircraft designs, including landing gear. This can then be modified for quieter operations.

In their sustainability-focused ecoDemonstrator, flight testing will be conducted during which pilots, air traffic controllers and an airline’s operations centre will simultaneously share digital information. This will optimize routing efficiency and enhance safety by reducing workload and radio frequency congestion.

Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO, has said about their partnership with Etihad:

Industry collaboration is a key aspect of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme that enables us to accelerate innovation. We’re proud to broaden our sustainability partnership with Etihad Airways by testing promising technologies that can reduce emissions, help commercial aviation meet our climate goals, and allow the industry to grow in a responsible manner that respects our planet and its natural resources.”

The test flights in the ecoDemonstrator will be flown on a blend of sustainable fuel. The fuel will significantly lower aviation’s environmental footprint, cleaning up the aviation industry.

Expected to last approximately four weeks, the programme comes just before Etihad’s Boeing 787-10 is entered into service in Abu Dhabi.

Building the Future: Passive Homes and Net Zero Houses

Home is where the heart of energy efficiency is. Passive homes and net zero houses are the future of the UK’s housing sector.
To reduce carbon emissions in the home, there is more to do than remembering to turn the light off once you leave a room or filling up the food waste bin. For poorly insulated homes and those suffering from damp or mould, residents spend money on heating the property, which is wasted.

In 2008, the European Parliament agreed on an action plan:

Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential. In this agreement, the members accepted that European carbon emissions needed to be cut to prevent global temperatures rising.

Building energy efficient structures is one way to do this. The European Commission set 2020 as the deadline for all new homes being built, and must be of the highest energy efficiency standard possible.

A report by the Committee on Climate Change last year concluded that the UK has not made good progress, as energy use across the UK’s 29m homes accounted for 14% of all of the countries emissions 2016-2017.

Additionally, it is presently unclear as to how the Coronavirus will impact this goal.

Recently, CleanTech News identified the great strides being made by Carbicrete, a Canadian startup manufacturing a non-pollutant form of cement, which is contributing to a reduction in carbon emissions.

There are other companies which are finding innovative ways to future-proof new buildings. Two terms one will hear interchangeably around the subject of home energy efficiency are “net zero” and “passive” homes.

Net Zero Homes:
The World Green Building Council launched Advancing Net Zero in 2018, a plan to ensure that all buildings are net zero by 2050.

A net zero building is one which produces all of the energy which it uses. For example, it has enough solar panels to satisfy the energy demands of those living in the home.

Such a house should not be confused with passive houses.

Passive Houses:
A passive home is one which is built, or adapted, to be energy efficient, one which will prevent heat from escaping the building in winter and keep it cool in the summer.

Energy escapes from buildings with poor insulation, which leads to more energy being used to replace what is lost and thus, more carbon emissions and waste.

A passive house is not patented and can be built by aspiring exterior designers or professionals.

What is the difference between Passive and Net Zero Homes?
A passive house and net zero energy home are not quite the same thing; in building a net zero energy home, the architect’s ambition is to create a balance between the energy used and the energy created.

However, a passive house is primarily concerned with the temperature comfort of its inhabitants and the environmental benefits of such efficiency.

There are some companies who are concerned with the housing sectors slow progress, and plan to capitalise on the move towards sustainable housing.

The EcoCocon answer
A 100 m2 EcoCocon home can be built in just one day, from straw with an airtight seal over the top, which prevents draughts of hot or cold air.

However, an EcoCocon house is not automatically a passive one: this depends on variables such as the windows and roof insulation chosen by the buyer.

An Iconic move forward
Icon, a startup based in Austin, USA, recognises that home-building is “inefficient and wasteful” and lacks sustainability.

By using an almost science-fiction form of 3D printing, Icon can create tiny homes at a fraction of the environmental cost and for a lower price.

Their mission is to support the millions of people living in unsafe housing around the world.

Australian startup H2X on the cleantech track

It’s been used since the 1970’s, but the renewable energy is gaining momentum. So what’s all the fuss about hydrogen?
It may be best known for the hilarious party balloons which turn voices squeaky, or less favourably, for the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. Yet, hydrogen is a remarkable renewable energy, which has staggering potential.

A natural molecule comprised of two atoms, hydrogen is the lightest element on the periodic table and is the most abundant element of all.

In hydrogen vehicles, for example, there is a fuel cell, in which the element reacts with oxygen, making electricity, which runs the vehicle. Instead of emitting carbon dioxide, as fuel-powered cars do, hydrogen vehicles emit only harmless water vapour.

What can hydrogen do?
Hydrogen energy can power vehicles and buildings, in many cases, just as fossil fuels do, but without emitting greenhouse gasses which are harmful to humans and to our atmosphere.

Furthermore, there is also speculation in the maritime industry, that hydrogen could power freighter ferries.

These stadium sized cargo ships are the reason seasonal fruit is available year round and what gets fast fashion items around the world so quickly. But these ferries produce almost 3% of the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions and an alternative is needed if the ozone layer is to be saved.

How is renewable hydrogen produced?
At present, 95% of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels. However, wind and solar energy can also create the element.

Hydrogen is a popular Australian export (where, unfortunately, so is coal), as the country has a high availability of solar and wind power to make renewable hydrogen.

Australian startup H2X has taken advantage of the abundance of the sun to create hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, powered by solar energy, produced in Australia and exported around the world.

H2X’s first vehicle (the ironically named Snowy) will be launched in 2022. There are also plans to create other models of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, such as taxis and tractors.

The startup was funded by Elvin Group and Denzo Limited and the H2X’s car plant will be constructed in Port Kembla (97km south of Sydney), which will bring employment to the area.

The local dock is large enough to transport cars onto cargo ships, but there is no word yet, on whether the freighter ferries which carry them to their future drivers, will also be powered by hydrogen.

Hydrogen energy in action
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been postponed because of the Coronavirus, but the committee had planned several events around carbon dioxide free, hydrogen technology.

When the opening and closing ceremonies do happen, the Olympic cauldron will be fuelled by hydrogen and parts of the torch relay are also going to use hydrogen fuel.

Furthermore, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota (the Olympics mobility sponsor), will provide 500 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, to transport Olympic officials around the venues throughout the Games.

As hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the universe, with no harmful consequences to our atmosphere when utilised as an energy, H2X certainly looks like it’s on the road to succes.

For more information on hydrogen fuel, please see here.

CleanTech News’ Top Ten Startup Accelerators

How these ten accelerators are leading the cleantech revolution.
Although the technologies themselves tend to dominate public discourse, startup accelerators play an equally crucial role in driving the ‘cleantech revolution’. Nurturing and encouraging the growth of the most innovative, cutting-edge cleantech companies, today we bring you our top ten CleanTech Accelerators.

  1. AT&T Aspire Accelerator
    With an overarching mission of “inspiring human progress through the power of communication and entertainment”, AT&T uses their Aspire accelerators to work with organisations that use technology to support community and education.

AT&T have a marked social responsibility towards emissions reduction and utilising renewable energy, aiming to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of their operations by 2025.

As a part of their AT&T Aspire initiative, the accelerator provides aspire investment, a national platform, a customised programme, flexible location and focussed mentorship. Hosting a $1m Skills Building Challenge to locate and accelerate eight startups annually.

  1. Greentown Labs
    As the largest incubator in North America, Greentown Labs aims to provide cleantech startups with the support they need to flourish, as a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating solutions for today’s biggest climate and environmental challenges.

In addition to the accelerator programme, Greentown Labs’ non-profit sister company FORGE connects startups with manufacturers, which to this day has facilitated over 1000 connection. Not only this, but Greentown Launch also connects startups with effective partners, fast-tracking technology-to-market lead times.

On a mission to establish a community to solve climate and environmental challenges, Greentown Labs is home to more than 100 startups and has supported over 250. Collectively, the accelerator has created more than 6,500 jobs and has raised more than $750m in funds.

  1. Shell Foundation Incubator

Source: Shell Foundation
Focussing on access to energy and sustainable mobility, the Shell Foundation Incubator creates and scales business solutions to these issues, concentrating their efforts in Africa and Asia to prevent hindrance to sustainable development.

Providing ‘high touch business support’, Shell combine business and development expertise to supply their portfolio with strategic guidance and support. A focus on sustainability led to 75-80% of their grants supporting initiatives that are progressing to scale and sustainability.

Investing in early-stage ventures, the program is “focussed on identifying potential game-changers: pioneers of brand new categories of products and services.” With a six-stage market growth formula, the Shell Foundation Incubator accelerates social innovation and builds inclusive markets in challenging locations.

  1. Elemental Excelerator
    By nurturing cleantech innovation, Elemental Excelerator accelerates solutions to climate change and deploys them where they are needed most. This programme invests to improve the systems that impact people’s lives. This includes energy, water, food & agriculture, mobility and the circular economy.

Taking on between 15-20 startups annually, with up to $1m funding each, Elemental Excelerator now has 99 portfolio companies, 59 demonstrates projects and has awarded $36m to companies to aid growth.

Every day the accelerator works towards rapidly deploying solutions to meet the challenges that climate change poses – in addition to social and economic challenges, also.

  1. Black & Veatch IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator
    Committing to a minimum of $250,000 in grants and services, Black & Veatch works closely with startup companies to accelerate innovative growth to scale solutions to save lives, support communities and strengthen the economy.

With a sustainable outlook, the employee-owned company use their expertise with the intention to reshape industry and society to reveal innovation in sustainable infrastructure.

By partnering with startups focused on renewable and distributed energy, mobility, agricultural technology and machine learning/AI, Black & Veatch are helping the world move towards a sustainable future faster.

For more information about the work of Black & Veatch, see here.

  1. Powerhouse Incubator
    With the determination to back entrepreneurs to build the future of energy and mobility, the Powerhouse connects startups, corporations and investors to the end of building a decarbonised, democratised and digitized energy and mobility system.

Through investing in seed-stage startups, Powerhouse is changing the way we power our world. Their four “C” formula of connection, capital, community and co-working nurtures growing cleantech startups to revolutionise the approach to the climate crisis by deploying market-based solutions.

  1. Techstars – mobility, sustainability, energy
    Managing Director, Aundun Abelsnes, looks for “great teams that are intellectually honest, coachable, and that demonstrate fierce execution skills,” in this cleantech accelerator that seeks for innovative startups in the energy sector.

Striving for advances in the four critical areas of the energy sector (oil and gas, new business models, digitisation, and renewables), this accelerator believes that entrepreneurs can change the world, combined with the innovation of collaboration.

Selecting over 500 early-stage companies each year to join one of their three-month programmes, the companies oversees multiple accelerating programmes. Through these, 2,157 companies have found success alongside Techstars, with a total of 9.3bn in[MOU1] funding.

  1. CITRIS Foundry

Source: CITRIS Foundry
The CITRIS Foundry Innovation Incubator is on a mission to innovation, diversity and creation. With 468 VC-backed startups from alumni since 2010, the accelerator offers over $30,000 of infrastructure and services to its startups.

This programme from the University of California leverages resources and expertise globally, and from their innovation ecosystem, to support new ventures, social enterprises and tech transfer pathways to influence industries.

With a six month accelerated programme, taking on two cohorts per year, the incubator facilitates growth through providing a community, coach and the necessary business resources.

  1. Urban-X
    Every six months, Urban-X selects up to ten urbantech startups, investing around $150,000 per company. With an immersive 20 week programme, the accelerator is unique for its expertise in urbantech challenges meaning there is no issue they are ill-equipped to resolve.

With an investment offering, design resources, deployment and global exposure, Urban-X has a portfolio of transportation, utilities and real estate innovation.

  1. LACI
    This CleanTech incubator is creating an inclusive green economy by accelerating innovation, transforming markets and enhancing communities. Working with around 30-40 companies each year, LACI has three programmes from startups to their Founders Business Accelerator, all aimed at raising funding and gaining market traction.

Although they do not provide grants to their startups, they provide the invaluable resources of applicant collaboration and support in an innovation hub. Defining cleantech as “products or services that advance sustainable or efficient use of resources,” in its first five years, LACI incubated 67 companies which raised $134M in funds.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: sustainable ideas for plastic

Plastic waste takes centuries to decompose, but innovators are finding new ways for plastic to take on a new life, instead of being thrown away.
Plastic waste facts
Plastic is one of the most useful human inventions in history; it’s lighter than glass or metal, is washable, mouldable and strong.

From toys to healthcare, kitchenware to sports, it’s difficult to imagine planet Earth without it, yet plastic was only invented in 1907.

Single-use plastics, like straws and shopping bags, are used for a few minutes, then discarded – taking hundreds of years to decompose.

But change is coming; Australian teenager, Angeline Arora, has created a bioplastic which is made out of prawns and biodegrades in 33 days. Not suitable for vegans.

In addition to climate change, humanity is faced with what to do with the growing number of once-used plastic clogging up the world.

Instead of letting items rot away, these creators have found alternative methods for creating useful items, without at a cost to the planet…

The war on plastic waste
This week, CleanTech News reported on Indian startup, ReCube, which is taking on the “disease” of plastic waste, by offering accessible solutions.
Another innovative Indian, Prashant Lingam, has found a similar solution for the high volume of single-use plastic waste plaguing Hyderabad, by employing locals to select suitable waste from rubbish pits and grinding it down ready to mould. The homes Lingam was able to manufacture were too expensive for most locals to afford, but Lingam proposed to the city council his pedestrian walkways, constructed from millions of minced up plastic bags.
Although sadly now closed, EcoDomum was a startup based in Mexico, that collected plastic waste, minced it down into shards and moulded them back together to use as the building blocks in creating affordable homes.
With such startups and innovators as these, the war on plastic waste looks like one humanity might win.

Instead of governments dumping plastic waste in the ocean or people chucking their empty bottle out of the car window, some are thinking out of the -plastic- box and finding solutions where humanity can live with the waste, in a way which doesn’t not harm the earth or the sea.

The future of housing for planet earth
With the human population growing year on year and affordable, comfortable housing becoming less available, is it possible to design low-cost homes which help the planet, by vacuuming up discarded plastic?

But by 2100, the global population is set to decline down from 8bn, which will leave more concrete homes empty and available at lower prices.

However, on the fringes of scientific speculation, some believe that the climate crisis will have left much of Earth uninhabitable by 2100 and some humans will be living off-planet by the end of the century. So perhaps recycled plastic will be a cheap and accessible solution.

Sustainable brand Coral Eyewear announces partnership with British Formula E driver Alexander Sims

Racing driver Alexander Sims gets behind British startup, Coral Eyewear, which uses discarded fishing nets for their frames.
Coral Eyewear, an innovative start-up brand crafting beautifully designed glasses frames from waste plastic and abandoned fishing nets, is partnering with British racing driver Alexander Sims. The company will equip him with its eco-friendly glasses and sunglasses ahead of the recommencement of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in Berlin (August 3rd).

Alexander Sims competes for BMW i Andretti Motorsport in Formula E – the forward-thinking motorsport series that uses all-electric race cars.

Currently sitting at 3rd place in the FIA Formula E Championships, Sims is the highest placed British Driver.

Recognised as an advocate for electric mobility and sustainability, both on and off the race track, Sims’ move to Coral Eyewear is his latest environmentally conscious switch.

The Coral Eyewear team is incredibly inspiring in its efforts to provide an alternative to virgin plastic frames that are stylish, but most importantly support the circular economy,” says Sims.

I’m always striving to make my home life more sustainable alongside promoting electric mobility through Formula E. I’ve competed in glasses for the past four years and I’m looking forward to switching my eyewear over to a sustainable option.”

Sustainable glasses reduce waste and support the ocean
As previously reported by CleanTech News, around 640,000 tonnes of abandoned fishing nets are cast into the oceans each year. Thus contributing significantly to plastic pollution across the globe.

It can take 600 years for these materials to break down, and during this time microplastic fragments are ingested by marine animals.

Just one abandoned net is estimated to entangle 30-40 animals each year.

Sustainable brand Coral Eyewear announces partnership with British Formula E driver Alexander Sims – CleanTech News
Alexander Sims wearing Coral Eyewear brown sunglasses.
Coral Eyewear is helping to reduce this waste in our oceans by reusing it and creating infinitely recyclable and stylish eyewear frames, supporting the circular economy that is essential to meeting global sustainability goals.

George Bailey, Co-Founder and CEO of Coral Eyewear, explains:

Millions of pairs of glasses and sunglasses are manufactured from virgin plastic each year. It’s no longer good enough to make people choose between style and sustainability and that’s why I decided to set up this business at university.

Alexander’s environmental ethics align with ours and his career is evidence of the fact that eyewear, sustainability and high-performance can sit together perfectly. With Alexander wearing our glasses and sunglasses, we really believe we can change the way people see the entire eyewear industry and remove any stigma associated with recycled materials.”

Frames made from fishing nets
Coral Eyewear’s frames are made from ECONYL, pellets of recycled nylon created from regenerated ocean fishing nets and fabric scraps from landfill.

As well as being a solution for waste, the ECONYL process also reduces the global warming impact by up to 90% when compared to making the material from oil.

The brand has launched its first range of glasses and sunglasses via Kickstarter. This means that those looking to support the brand will benefit from exclusive pre-order prices and complimentary prescription lenses until July 30th.

Among those already supporting Coral Eyewear is entrepreneur, philanthropist and TV personality, Jake Humphrey.v

Sustainable sanitary pads made from bamboo: “A booming business”

Motivated by sustainability, startup RI Nanotech was founded by Rajendra Joshi, with a vision to support society, using smart materials to make sustainable sanitary pads.
Indian startup, RI Nanotech, has tackled a big problem in India: providing affordable, biodegradable, sustainable sanitary pads.

Most sanitary items contain plastic and end up sitting in landfill. As CleanTech News previously reported, landfill sites are a cause of methane emissions – one of the leading greenhouse gases which contributes to climate change.

RI Nanotech’s sanitary pads are made from bamboo and banana fibre, which are 100% biodegradable.

India has been severely impacted by the Coronavirus and lately entered into disputes with Kashmir and China. Despite this, their desire for a cleaner India has not diminished.

CleanTech spoke to CEO Rajendra Joshi to hear about what the startup has achieved and its commitment to sustainability.

Why was it important for you to make sure your product was safe for the environment?
We get a lot of waste, even in my town. Waste management is very important, so why not make more products biodegradable? Now is the time to move for eco-friendly products! We have to be eco friendly – to lower our CO2 emissions and become renewable.

Your sanitary products are made in India from ingredients such as bamboo and banana cotton and you recently started exporting to New Zealand. How have customers reacted to the product?
It took us more than one year to make this cost-effective product. People of all castes and classes can afford them and they say it’s very nice! For so many years people were waiting for a comfortable sanitary pad that was biodegradable – business is booming for us!

The 2018 Indian film Period. End of a Sentence was widely applauded. How has the national attitude changed towards periods since then?
Now, there is more awareness. People understand women’s problems. I remind my Human Resources people: we are here to help society! Yes, things are changing…

How do people react when you tell them that you create sanitary products?
There are different kinds of people, they have a different type of philosophy. Some people give a funny remark, but others say: “Thank you!”

What is next for Ri Nanotech?
We have wanted to make things in India for so many years and depended on other countries. Now, we are the supplier for the globe! We are coming up with more social products: we are working towards air conditioners for the lowest in society, powered by solar tiles. We are also continuing to look at good solutions for waste.

Startups finding creative ways to manufacture everyday products. Creating them in a manner which will not emit dangerously high levels of greenhouse gasses, they are keeping the planet cleaner.

Sustainable sanitary pads made from bamboo: “A booming business” – CleanTech News
Rajendra Joshi, Founder & CEO of RI Nanotech India

Accelerator URBAN-X hopes to improve city living

URBAN-X, an accelerator which takes on “some of the toughest challenges that cities face today”, talks to CleanTech News about city life and visions for improvement.
Living in a city has so much to offer residents – professional opportunities, more capital available, more cultural stimuli and even longer lifespans. However, the challenges of urban living are equally as significant and it’s not by chance that the spread of COVID-19 has thrived in urban settings.

Enter URBAN-X, an accelerator with bases in cities around the world, which hopes to change the city life for the better.

At URBAN-X, we believe that startups that address urban challenges hold the key to build a more sustainable and liveable future – that’s why we invest in urbantech companies,” says Miriam Roure, a Principal at the company.

In the last four years at URBAN-X, the company has invested in and helped launch 51 startups in the US, Europe and Asia.

This has covered mobility and transportation, real estate and construction, energy, water, waste, civic and government technologies.

Most of these companies either sell to cities or operate in highly regulated environments.

Adapting to the post-COVID-19 world
Like all businesses, URBAN-X is planning for what comes next – as life moves back to “the new normal”.

“The main challenge for urbantech is to address the inequality that has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” says Roure.

URBAN-X believes that building inclusive communities and systems that bring people together. Not only this, they are committed to continuing the investment in infrastructure technologies that make cities more resilient in the future and is the way forward.

However, URBAN-X is not ignorant of the human impact on climate change and the company is looking to reduce its carbon footprint.

“We believe that we need to fundamentally change the way in which live and build to enable a more sustainable inhabitance of this planet,” Roure continues.

Cities remain the most sustainable form of urban living due to the amount of shared resources and infrastructure. Besides, climate change is not going away. We want to make sure that with every investment we are a step forward in building the future that our planet deserves.”

Climate Robotics and Aquagenuity are two of URBAN-X’s most recent investments.

“Climate Robotics leverages robots and AI to sequester carbon, fight climate change and improve soils,” explains Miriam. “Climate Robotics has the potential to sequester up to 15 million tonnes of CO2 annually – equivalent to taking over 3 million cars off the road.”

Following the Flint Water Crisis (which began in 2014) concern about water safety has risen.

“The startup Aquagenuity uses big data to provide real-time insights into water quality across the U.S. through a single mobile app. Access to clean water is not a third-world issue — it impacts all of us,” says Roure.

“IBM’s The Weather Company has already partnered with Aquagenuity to use its API, with many other partnerships in the pipeline for later this year.”

Get in contact with URBAN-X
For those with a vision to tackle climate change, URBAN-X wants to hear from you.

“The ideal URBAN-X founder has a growth mindset, learns quickly and is deliberate about their culture,” concludes Miriam.

Startups can submit their application until October 8th, 2020 via the website.

Apply your sustainable idea in the Elemental Excelerator

Humanity has caused a lot of damage to our planet: unsustainable practices, pollution, deforestation… the list goes on. But the damage does not have to. Elemental Excelerator supports sustainable ideas and lifts them into life.
In “Are you a Catalyst for Change?” Joi Ito, director of MIT Media Lab said: “We’re screwing [the Earth] up – and it’s really hard to screw it up! Just as hard as it is to screw it up, it’s going to be that hard to get rid of the problems that we’ve caused”.

Yet many have risen to the challenge and Elemental Excelerator is looking to support the next big ideas which will impact our planet for the better.

Accelerator or excelerator?
An accelerator is a fixed-term programme which offers mentorship and education to participants in a particular field.

Elemental Excelerator is an accelerator which was founded in 2013 and is based in Honolulu, USA.

The accelerator claims:

Each year, we find 15-20 companies that best fit our mission and fund each company up to $1 million to improve systems that impact people’s lives: energy, water, food & agriculture, mobility, and the circular economy.”

Here are some of their past success stories:
Based in New York, EthoseGen transforms waste heat into “cost-effective and carbon-free electricity”.

On a planet where 2.1bn people live without access to safe water, Zero Mass Water uses sunlight and air to create clean drinking water.

Food and agriculture
GrubTubs takes food waste and uses it for animal feed. This prevents the waste from turning into methane gas in landfill and helps out financially stressed farmers.

The clear skies caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have been a summer highlight for many, and Los Angeles-based Ampaire wants that to continue with their electric aircraft. The Ampaire ethos is to build craft which is: “Safe, clean, quiet, and less costly to operate”.

The circular economy
Whatever residents of Brisbane, California have hidden in their “treasure trove”, startup Trove would like to have a go at giving unused items a second life. The goal is to “Reduce the amount of new products society needs by 25%” and support the popularity of second-hand sales.

Read about all of the Elemental Excelerator companies here.

Are you a Catalyst for Change? Do something extraordinary…
If you have an idea that needs a nudge, there is still time to apply to Elemental Excelerator.

The company does not fund consulting firms, marketing agencies, Nonprofits, acquired startups (or those without a prototype), groups with less than two members or those selling third party products.

If your idea fits outside of these realms, check out the applicant resources page to decide what track you want to take:

Demonstration Track
The core parts of this track are technological developments and access to new customers and partners, as well as a grant of up to $1m.

Equity and Access Track
A SAFE of up to $1m, designed around Equity In (from diverse hiring to a responsible supply chain) and Equity Out (strong community partnerships and access to products).

Go-to-Market Track
A grant of up to $200,000 and coaching in Market Intelligence, Sales and Growth and Operational Scale-ups.

Speaking of Elemental Excelerator, Andy Karsner, Managing Partner Emerson Collective, said: “[It] has taken off like wildfire… Be on the right side of the revolution.”