Vote for your favorite low-carbon innovation

Written by adam


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.

Via Worldchanging.

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  1. Anne

    Solar Cooker International has a variety of different solar cookers too. I have cooked with some of them and they really work–and they work for making water safe, especially with the little lo-tech gadget they make that lets the user know when the water has been heated enough to kill nasty bacteria. While it is obvious to me that making developed countries more efficient will affect the climate more, boy do I like the solar cookers for improving the health and safety of women and children in places like Kenya. And, it does mean they won’t be cutting down every tree in sight for firewood, if these cookers become widespread.

  2. Gordon C

    Where is the electric bicycle in this list/

  3. Bob Meredith

    That does seem like a short list of all the ideas out there. I am concerned that the evoporating tiles would use more water in areas that are facing great water shortages. One might be trading one problem for another.
    How about bar soap. We could eliminate all the plastic packaging used in liquid soap and save fuel with with less shiping weight and soap can be made locally.

  4. Adam Stein

    Hi all,
    This is a business plan competition, not a complete list of all possible low-carbon innovations. 300 companies entered, were winnowed by the judges down to 12 finalists, and then winnowed again to the top 5.

  5. Jonno

    You might wanna whack an extra ‘o’ onto the end of ‘to’ before shortsighted near the end of your article. Cheers.

  6. Pio Martinez

    I like Deflecktor because it has the most potential for an immediate impact. The evaporating tiles would only be economic for new construction and would take a longer time to have an impact. The humanitarian aspects of the Kyoto Box are undeniable, but I suspect that the carbon reduction pales in conparison to the Deflecktor.

  7. veeek

    I voted for the Kyoto Box for several reasons — the simplicity is neat (and more likely to be used), it can directly and indirectly improve the health of the people who use it, and it may have the most potential to lower actual CO2 emissions.
    Great contest — it’s good the innovations are still there.

  8. Pat Tibbs

    After reading about all of these products I chose to vote for Deflector because it could have a HUGE impact – quickly.
    The State of California now requires all long-haul truckers to install aerodynamic devices and California often leads the way so this legislation could be just the boost needed to see these installed nationwide.
    In addition to the difference it could make in carbon emissions – there’s the cost saving. Think of everything that is hauled via truck and extrapolate that to the cost of products we buy.

  9. The TerraMadre Foundation

    Though we’re not sure of the origin of the “exhaust air” supplying the evaporating tile cooling, we applaud the immense effort put forth by these folks, as well as all of your other entrants!! Our vote goes to the evaporating tiles for a simple reason–water in place of chemicals and coal-powered energy to offer us a cool spot to relax? You betcha!! Your Friend, Rick Hewitt

  10. JAH

    It’s not real clear on that Financial Times page how you vote. When you click on one of the projects, it takes you to a page with more information about that project. It gives no indication that you’ve voted. Poor UI.

  11. sj

    Indeed, a poor design – I think it’s the poll on the right sidebar.

  12. Sikantis

    It’s hard to choose, but eventually I’ve chosen the Kyoto Box for rural Africa. Its benefit is so obvious.

  13. delbikerdude

    Let’s get serious about being green. If you want to get somewhere by bike use what you have; two legs. Currentlty I ride to work every day 10 miles one way and get there in 30 minutes even taking your time it’s only 45 miutes.

  14. Mahmudul Karim Rubel

    Congrats Jon Bohmer, this mail is from Bangladesh. We want this product in our country to save our green. Please can any one help us with the contact info of Jon Bohmer, Kyoto Energy! send it to [email protected]
    Thanking you,
    M K Rubel
    Design Bangladesh

  15. Anonymous

    The box is a great idea but if it boils 10 l. in 2 hours – why does the clock in the caption say 3 -shouldn’t it say 2? If I am Swahili I might think 3 from the caption…