Solar smartphone screens and edible packaging: the best green innovations of the week

After a week that saw the steel industry reach crisis point, edie rounds up the latest low-carbon technologies and innovations that show that, in spite of the potential death of a bastion of the industrial revolution, entrepreneurs from across the globe are accelerating the green revolution.

The big innovation news of the week undoubtedly goes to the launch of the Tesla Model 3 – which surpassed a huge £10bn in sales, just 36 hours after the official unveiling.

With future of Britain’s steel industry still hanging in the balance, edie also brought news of the innovations that could help struggling energy-intensive businesses.

Last week’s green innovation round-up brought you driverless cars and solar-powered bubbles. This week, edie has once again pulled the best innovation stories of the week into this neat and tidy little green package.

Spin classes with spin washers

With summer on the way, millions of people around the world are venturing into the crash-diet world of juicers and soup in an attempt to look good on the beach. But how about a way to get fit, keep clothes clean and lower energy bills?

This perfect trifecta of human wellbeing comes from China, where students have developed plans for a bike with a built in washing machine. The clothes in the washing drum are cleaned via the kinetic energy you produce by completing a tour de’ living room cycle. Any excess energy created is also used to power the smart screen on the bike.

Sun screens hit a new factor

Speaking of smart screens, sustainable innovation company Sunpartner Technologies has jumped onto the ‘chuck solar panels on everything’ bandwagon by revealing a new solar panel smartphone screen that allows the device to charge itself.

Teaming up with Japanese tech innovator Kyocera, Sunparter has unveiled an 85% transparent solar film, which doesn’t hinder interaction, to be put on the smartphones screen, negating the need for a plug-in charger.

Scientists (and us at edie) are already anticipating that this will lower plug-stepping incidents by around 30% – that hairdryer plug is still wreaking havoc.

Triple-hybrid solar: the perfect cocktail

While we’re on the topic of solar – not that there’s much about, as April showers attempts to outdo itself – this new Stillwater power plant in America officially became the world’s first triple-hybrid solar system, mixing geothermal, photovoltaic and solar thermal power generation – take that Koch brothers.

Nevada is now home to this 61MW capacity plant, which had its ribbon cut by the Italian Prime Minister, who swapped Rome for Nevada to represent the Italian-based energy firm Enel.

Discovering sanitation in Africa

Apparently, we at edie aren’t alone in keeping tabs on innovation. The Discovery Channel is launching a new documentary – which you can be a part of – covering the solar-absorbing sanitation adventures of the Watly team.

European cleantech firm Watly has launched an Indiegogo fundraiser to gain economic backing for the world’s first thermodynamic computer that provides internet connectivity alongside clean water and electricity to the world’s most vulnerable communities.

A previous version of the model has already been trialled in Ghana as part of the EU Horizon 2020 fund, and is able to use solar power to provide 5,000 litres of clean water a day.

The military gets a sugar rush

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll be well aware of the looming potential of worldwide warfare. With Russia and North Korea seeing how far they can prod before the rest of the world pushes back, we could soon see a war powered by sugar, tyres and human waste. Yay!

At least that’s the vision of Australian refining company Southern Oil’s managing director Tim Rose, who has announced a $650m investment to produce diesel from the above sources, to power Australia’s armed forces – whether this money could be better spent on a Kangaroo army is anyone’s guess.

Have your cake (and packaging) and eat it

When he was older than he’d like to admit, one of our reporters tried to cook bolognaise for the first time. Long story short, he ended up eating a lot of the film that surrounds the meat, but little did he know that he was kick-starting a sustainability trend.

That’s because professor Tatsiana Savitskaya has just developed an edible film that acts as inner packaging for food, which can also be cooked and eaten. Savitskaya believes that this will severely cut the need for plastic in food packaging in the near future. And while this concept gears up to revolutionise the food industry, our reporter still has nightmares about the puppets from those Dolmio adverts.

Matt Mace

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