It’s no secret that our environment is in danger. In fact, thinking about pollution, ozone deterioration, and wildlife extinction keeps more than a few of us up at night. Fortunately for everyone, some of the best minds in the world are developing innovative new techniques and technologies that could mean a brighter tomorrow.
Here at GPS, we love to celebrate the creativity and hard work that leads to some of the most vital technologies in our world. Here are just a few examples of amazing patents that could save the environment:
1: The Ocean Cleanup Project
In 2012, a TED Talk by 17-year-old Boyan Slat sparked a new initiative to tackle the colossal challenge of cleaning up our oceans. Much of our waste eventually ends up in the ocean. This can be especially dangerous when it comes to plastics, as they don’t break down over time. Instead, ocean currents gather them together in gyres, which become massive floating garbage patches. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone is roughly 1.6 kilometers wide.
How can we fix it? Slat’s invention utilizes energy from the sun, wind, and ocean currents to fuel a massive curving buoy that collects the floating waste from the top few meters of the ocean’s surface. It naturally deters wildlife, and when it reaches capacity, it sends out a signal for a cleanup boat to empty it out. Two Dutch patents were granted for the system in November of 2018. Although it’s taken some trial and error to work out kinks with the system, the Ocean Cleanup Project is now underway, and full-scale deployment is expected to clean up 50% of the Pacific Garbage Patch every 5 years.
2: Protecting Birds and Bats from Wind Turbines
Our transition to greener energy sources is promising, but not without cost. Wind power, for example, creates quite a quandary for nature-lovers. While this energy source is renewable and practical, it can also pose a threat to birds and bats. Positioned in locations with optimum wind currents, wind turbines are also right in the path of regular migration patterns. These turbines kill roughly 350,000 birds per year. The numbers may be even worse for bats, with 400,000 per year dying because of wind turbines.
A patent issued to BirdsVision, Inc. could help, however. This invention detects incoming wildlife and aims visual or audio deterrents to warn them away. One clever aspect of this invention is that it utilizes a variety of deterrent techniques in order to prevent animals from becoming acclimatized.
3: Seed Balls Countering Deforestation
Human civilization has grown side-by-side with trees. Trees prevent erosion and provide shelter, fuel, climate regulation, and of course, animal habitats. However, overuse of trees has led to deforestation crises in many regions throughout the globe.
The answer? Seed balls. Simply dropping seeds doesn’t always do the trick, as most seeds aren’t given the opportunity to thrive and survive long enough to grow into a tree. Seed balls wrap and cushion seeds in protective layers of clay or biodegradable paper, and possibly nutritious additives or pest deterrents. This allows seeds to be easily scattered and distributed, armed with advantages that will help them thrive. The European patent for advanced seedballs is held by Masanobu Fukuoka, a natural farming pioneer.
Seed balls can be used in many ways, but perhaps the widest use and initiative is from Seedballs Kenya, an organization which introduces a tree-fuel-tree cycle. They create seedballs from reclaimed urban charcoal, a power source utilized by 82% of Kenyan households, in order to halt Kenya’s deforestation crisis and restore native species.
The Future of Green Patents
While much of patent research is primarily motivated by profitability and consumer needs, these three green inventions are hallmarks of long-term thinking and altruism. That being said, going green isn’t an entirely unselfish pursuit. With fast-dwindling natural resources driving up costs and an increasingly eco-conscious consumer community, many large businesses are redirecting efforts to be more environmentally sensitive. In fact, according to WIPO, more “green” patents were filed from 2009 to 2014 than in the previous 30 years combined. This has prompted many patent offices to expedite green patents in order to speed up technologies that could benefit the planet.
Of course, it’s no secret that challenges with business development and commerce often get in the way of great, eco-friendly ideas. Are you developing green technology? We can help streamline your patent process, arming you with the information you need to make better decisions. Here at Global Patent Solutions, we provide more than patent search; we provide tools and solutions that can help businesses better frame their development. From early-stage patent search to projections that help you better determine the viability of your invention, we help make your idea a reality. Contact us to learn more.