The Forum for the Future is asking you to vote for the top low-carbon innovation. The winner will receive $75,000 to help bring their product to market. Choose from among five contenders:
* Kyoto Box – a $7, solar-powered cardboard stove for use in rural Africa. It can halve firewood use and reduce exposure to dangerous air pollutants. (Kyoto Energy Ltd, Kenya)
* Carbonscape – a giant industrial microwave which ‘fixes’ the carbon sucked out of the atmosphere by trees by turning wood into charcoal, which can be buried, used as fertilizer or as a highly-efficient fuel. (Carbonscape, New Zealand/UK)
* Deflecktor – an inexpensive, lightweight aerodynamic cover for truck wheels that reduces drag. It can cut fuel consumption by 2%. (ADEF Ltd, USA)
* Mootral – a feed additive derived from garlic that cuts the methane produced by cows, sheep and other ruminants by at least 5%, and up to 25% with optimum dosage. (Neem Biotech, UK)
* Evaporating Tiles – an indoor cooling system that uses exhaust air to evaporate water within hollow tiles built into a false ceiling. It halves the energy use of air-conditioning systems. (Loughborough University, UK)
You can vote here. It’s clear from the current poll results that my tastes in innovation differ from the general public’s. Mootral and the Kyoto Box are the heavy favorites. Personally, I’d give the nod to either Deflecktor or Evaporating Tiles.
Mootral, Deflecktor, and the Evaporating Tiles all target roughly similar-sized problem. Enteric methane form ruminants (i.e., cow burps) is about 5% of the global warming pie. Emissions from trucks are also about 5%. Air conditioning is harder to figure, but by my rough estimate, it’s about 1%.
(I don’t know enough about either Carbonscape or Kyoto Box to stack them up against the other three. I actually really love the Kyoto Box, which might be my sentimental favorite. But I’m not sure what climate change impact it will have.)
The reason I like Deflecktor and Evaporating Tiles is just that I can envision a ready market for the efficiency gains these products promise, and $75,000 seems like a useful amount of capital to help move the companies along. Mootral doesn’t offer any advantages to farmers unless a regulatory system is in place to require emissions reductions from cows. Maybe I’m just being to shortsighted, but the product seems a bit premature.
Anyway, go vote! All the finalists are pretty cool, and there are lots of other ideas profiled on the site.