Maximpact Blog

EU Project Teams Treat Waste Heat and Cold as Treasures

Waste-to-energy incinerator in Belvedere, London, UK. 2013 (Photo by Petras Gagilas) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Five European project teams revolutionizing waste heat and cold recovery and industrial energy cooperation have joined forces to create an Alliance for Energy Cooperation in European Industries. Initially, they intend to publish guidelines on how managers can boost energy efficiency, recover waste heat and cold, and encourage energy cooperation.

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Plant-centric Menus Offer Human & Planetary Health

Each year a bunch of heritage varieties of vegetables and fruits are grown in this backyard garden. July 31, 2010, Schiltern, Niederösterreich, Austria (Photo by Brigitte Rieser) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Designing and introducing children to sustainable school lunches that are climate friendly, nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate – lunches they enjoy – does that sound impossible? Researchers at Stockholm-based Karolinska Institutet have done it. Their study shows a new lunch menu resulted in a 40 percent reduction in climate impact with no increase in cost or decrease in consumption.

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Invaluable: Waters Clean Enough to Drink

The Tiu Kelep waterfall in Indonesia feeds rivers and streams below, providing clean water from the foot of Mount Rinjani, an active volcano on the island of Lombok. April 2015 (Photo by Lando Mikael) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Clean drinkable water is rare and precious. Of the waters that cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, roughly 97 percent is the saltwater of the oceans; just three percent is freshwater. Of that, only 1.2 percent can be used as drinking water; the rest is locked up in glaciers, ice caps, and permafrost, or stored too far beneath the surface to be retrieved. Much of the accessible freshwater has become polluted.

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Rohinga Refugees Had So Little, Now They Have Less

Rohinga refugees from Myanmar watch as a giant blaze destroys thousands of shelters at the world's largest refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar. March 21, 2021 (Photo courtesy UNHCR) Posted for media use

Fire swept through a Rohinga refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday leaving 15 refugees dead and more than 560 others injured. Bangladeshi authorities estimate that 400 people are still missing and 45,000 refugees lost their shelters and all their belongings in the devastating blaze.

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The Sprint to Harness Europe’s Offshore Winds

A wind farm offshore of Crosby Beach,Liverpool, Merseyside, England at sunset. June 18, 2017 (Photo by Tee Cee) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Europe invested a record amount in new offshore wind farms last year – €26.3 billion – despite the unexpected financial demands of the coronavirus pandemic. These fresh investments will finance 7.1 gigawatts of new offshore wind energy, enough to power 2.13 million homes. But that’s not many compared to the millions of homes in the EU’s future plans.

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A Balancing Act: Climate Change Control Without Water Stress

A bioenergy field trial in Wisconsin is evaluating how switchgrass, Miscanthus, corn stover, poplar trees, and native prairie grasses stack up against each other. (Photo by Gregg Sanford / Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center) Creative Commons License via Flickr

To avoid serious water scarcity, future biomass plantations for energy production and carbon emissions control will need sustainable water management, researchers from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research show in a new study. Otherwise, irrigation of biomass plantations may increase global water stress more than climate change.

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Transforming Old Cotton Clothes Into Sugar

In his lab Edvin Ruuth, researcher in chemical engineering at Lund University, prepares to transform scraps of cotton into a sugar solution before turning that solution into a new textile, February 2021 (Screengrab from video courtesy Lund University) Posted for media use

Every year, an estimated 25 million tonnes of cotton textiles are discarded around the world, about a quarter of all the textiles thrown out each year. In Sweden, most of the unwanted material goes straight into an incinerator and becomes district heating. In other places, cotton clothes usually end up in landfills, but now a new process converts them to sugar.

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Wait: Don’t Toss That Food, It Could Fuel the Car

The United States wastes an estimated 40 percent of all the food the country produces. (Photo courtesy National Conference of State Legislators) Public domain

“When we eat, our bodies convert food into energy that fuels our lives. But what happens to the energy stored in the 80 billion pounds of food thrown away annually in America?” asks Steven Ashby, director of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. As part of advancing sustainable energy solutions, scientists at the lab he runs are converting tons of food waste into clean, renewable biofuel that could power cars, planes and trains.

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Displaced Syrians Learn via Smartphone Intranet

Never too young to enjoy a smartphone, Hafjin, a three-year-old Syrian refugee, looks at family photos from Syria on her father's phone. 2016 (Photo © Sumaya Agha for Mercy Corps) Posted for media use

Distance learning has become routine for many students during the COVID-19 lockdown, but for thousands of young Syrians living in refugee camps distance learning has been an impossible luxury. Yet, an innovative project established in one camp allows internally displaced schoolchildren to communicate and pursue their education using smartphones – without the need for internet or computers.

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Africa Takes Action Against Plastic Pollution

UNEP's Clean Seas project dhow, Flip-Flopi, clad in plastic made entirely from flip flops found on Kenya's beaches. (Photo courtesy UN Environment Programme) Posted for media use

Kenya’s national government and the country’s 47 lower level county governments are jointly establishing a plastic waste management program – one that could be scaled and replicated across the East African community and beyond. It’s just the latest step in Kenya’s evolving journey from a plastic-strewn country to one of the cleanest in Africa.

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North Sea to Host World’s 1st Offshore Wind Power Hub

At Nysted offshore wind farm in Denmark, the 72 rotors are placed in a parallelogram with eight rows of nine wind turbines each and all spinning clockwise. (Photo by Orsted Energy Group) Posted for media use on Facebook

Denmark, the EU’s largest oil producer, is taking a giant step towards total reliance on green electricity. A coalition of Danish parties announced this week that they will create the world’s first wind energy hub on a custom-built artificial island in the North Sea. Owned by a public-private partnership, the energy hub will collect electricity from offshore windfarms and distribute it to Danish households and to customer countries on the grid.

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Teachers Discover Empathy Is the ‘Mother of Invention’

A mother shows her 32- month-old boy his first asthma inhaler. This inhaler was not designed by pupils in the Cambridge University study. May 31, 2007 (Photo by Thomas Widmann) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Teaching children in a way that encourages them to empathise with others improves their creativity and can deepen their general engagement with learning, finds new research from the University of Cambridge at two inner London schools with Design and Technology students, ages 13 to 14. Co-author Dr. Helen Demetriou said, “We clearly awakened something in these pupils by encouraging them to think about the thoughts and feelings of others.”

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President Biden Welcomes Refugees, Reversing Trump Policy

An internally displaced Yemeni woman and her daughter look over the capital city of Sana’a, Yemen. August 2017 (Photo by Giles Clarke courtesy UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Posted for media use

“We face a crisis of more than 80 million displaced people suffering all around the world,” President Joe Biden told diplomats at the U.S. State Dept. Friday, setting the stage for an about-face on U.S. refugee policy. While the previous administration imposed travel bans, separated families and built border walls, Biden signed an executive order “to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need.”

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Indian Designer Turns PPE Plastic Scrap into Bedrolls

Designer Laksmi Menon, center, has put Kerala women to work making bedrolls out of plastic trimmings from PPE production, 2020 (Photo courtesy Shayya via Facebook)

Posted for media use

The 2021 World Economic Forum wrapped today in Davos after five days of discussions focused on the coronavirus pandemic, affordable medical care, net-zero emissions, digital technology and the future of work. Amid the big panels on vaccines, climate and finance, a small project from India shows how compassion has opened an innovative way to handle the tons of plastic waste the virus has left across the world.

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