Tag Archives: sustainability

Eco conscious gin distillery

EnduroShield, an ultrathin film for making glass easier to clean, has helped to make a thing of beauty that is designed with eco consciousness in mind.

From the EnduroShield Sapphire Bombay Gin Project page,

Courtesy: EnduroShield

Courtesy: EnduroShield

Courtesy: EnduroShield

Courtesy: EnduroShield

Here’s the description of the project (from the EnduroShield website),

Prominent gin-makers Bombay Sapphire commissioned the creation of the company’s first in-house production facility at an old Victorian paper mill in Laverstoke, Hampshire, on a 20,000sqm rural property along the southern coast of England. The abandoned 18th century paper mill’s original brick buildings were converted into the distillery, while a pair of phenomenal curved glass greenhouses were added to house the 10 tropical and Mediterranean botanicals used to create the world famous gin.

Throughout the renovation process, Bombay Sapphire and architects Heatherwick Studio were dedicated to creating a sustainable and efficient distillery which upheld the heritage of the site. In recognition of this, the gin distillery was awarded the highly prestigious BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) Award for Industrial Design.

The state-of-the-art facility has been recognised as the first distillery and first refurbishment to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ design-stage BREEAM accreditation.  The centrepiece of the award winning distillery is the amazing greenhouse designed by Thomas Hetherwick. It is made up of two glasshouses which extend from the distillery, using recycled air from the distillation process to maintain a warm climate within. The glasshouses also take full advantage of advances in glass technology, one of which is EnduroShield’s easy clean nanotechnology.  The EnduroShield coated glass utilised in this remarkable structure is synonymous with the development’s eco strategy; not only does EnduroShield protect the glass form staining and etching but also helps to reduce environmental and monetary costs from ongoing maintenance.

Here’s more about the glass (from the EnduroShield website),

EnduroShield easy clean surface treatment for glass was applied onto the swooping glasshouse structures so that water and contaminants bead right off, reducing cleaning time and frequency. EnduroShield chemically bonds to the glass substrate, transforming it into a high performance hydrophobic surface which will protect against staining, and reduce the effort and regularity of maintenance.

The spectacular Bombay Sapphire Distillery project, with its strong environmental focus, is at the forefront of eco-conscious architecture. Bombay Sapphire have also commented that the sustainability measures taken during the design and construction process have fundamental financial sense,  increasing efficiency with ongoing savings in operational energy and water costs well into the future.

Nanotechnology is mentioned, although not in any detail,

EnduroShield is the smart choice for exterior glass surfaces, providing a permanent*, ultra-thin, transparent coating that completely adheres to the glass surface. The coating provides a reduction of both the frequency and the time spent cleaning.

Developed with cutting edge nanotechnology, the coating is applied by many of the world’s leading glass companies and is an official partner to Lisec Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of high-tech production lines for the glass industry. [emphasis mine]

*Independently tested and certified by TÜV Rheinland, Germany for durability to simulate a lifetime of 10 years on interior and exterior use.

H/t architectureanddesign.com.au Aug. 13, 2015 news item.

You can find out more about LiSEC here.

Finally, a gin and tonic is sounding pretty good to me right now. Have a nice weekend!

Rubbery lettuce is a good thing

The lettuce we eat was cultivated from prickly lettuce, which is now considered a weed. That status may change if scientists at Washington State University (WSU) are successful with their research into the plant’s ability to produce rubber. From an April 6, 2014 WSU news release by Sylvia Kantor (also on EurekAlert),

Prickly lettuce, a common weed that has long vexed farmers, has potential as a new cash crop providing raw material for rubber production, according to Washington State University scientists.

Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they describe regions in the plant’s genetic code linked to rubber production. The findings open the way for breeding for desired traits and developing a new crop source for rubber in the Pacific Northwest.

“I think there’s interest in developing a temperate-climate source of natural rubber,” said Ian Burke, a weed scientist at WSU and a study author. “It would be really great if prickly lettuce could become one of those crops.”

Here’s what prickly lettuce looks like,

Prickly lettuce, the wild relative of cultivated lettuce, is a potential source for the production of natural rubber. (Photo by Flickr user Jim Kennedy)

Prickly lettuce, the wild relative of cultivated lettuce, is a potential source for the production of natural rubber. (Photo by Flickr user Jim Kennedy)

Here’s a close-up of a prickly lettuce stem with sap,

The milky sap, or latex, of the plant could be used to produce rubber. (Photo by Jared Bell, WSU)

The milky sap, or latex, of the plant could be used to produce rubber. (Photo by Jared Bell, WSU)

Getting back to the prickly lettuce news release,

When the lettuce we eat and grow in our gardens bolts, a milky white sap bleeds from the stem. In prickly lettuce, the wild relative and ancestor of cultivated lettuce, this same substance could prove to be an economically viable source of natural rubber and help alleviate a worldwide threat to rubber production.

Natural rubber is the main ingredient for many everyday products, from boots to condoms to surgical gloves. Roughly 70 percent of the global supply of rubber is used in tires.

But more than half of rubber products are made from synthetic rubber derived from petrochemical sources. And the largest source of natural rubber, the Brazilian rubber tree, is threatened by disease.

Burke has reviewed many studies of prickly lettuce and its cultivated cousins, but one in particular gave him an idea. A study published in 2006 found that the latex in prickly lettuce was very similar to the polymers found in natural rubber.

“It occurred to me that we could grow the heck out of prickly lettuce in eastern Washington,” he said.

Genetic markers for desired traits

He knew that to develop a viable new crop for rubber production, he had to start by understanding the genetics of rubber production in the plant.

Burke, doctoral student Jared Bell and molecular plant scientist Michael Neff began their studies with two distinct samples of prickly lettuce collected from eastern Washington. These differed in their rubber content, leaf shape and tendency to bolt. The scientists were able to identify genetic markers not only for rubber content but for the way the plants grow, including the number of stems produced and bolting.

Sought-after traits in cultivated lettuce – like abundant leaves, a single stem and delayed bolting – are the exact opposite of traits desired for rubber production. Early bolting plants with multiple stems would allow for multiple harvests over the season and potentially maximize rubber yields.

Burke said that selecting for other traits, like water use efficiency, could allow prickly lettuce to be grown with minimal rainfall, meaning it could be grown in rotation with other crops.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Genetic and Biochemical Evaluation of Natural Rubber from Eastern Washington Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola L.) by Jared L. Bell, Ian C. Burke, and Michael M. Neff. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2015, 63 (2), pp 593–602 DOI: 10.1021/jf503934v Publication Date (Web): December 16, 2014

Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

This paper is behind a paywall.

Since graduating, Bell has become  associated with Dow Agrosciences.

Honey, could you please unzip my electronics?

The UK’s National Physical Laboratory has been proceeding with an interesting project on reusable electronics, ReUSE (Reuseable, Unzippable, Sustainable Electronics), according to the Oct. 30, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), along with partners In2Tec Ltd (UK) and Gwent Electronic Materials Ltd, have developed a printed circuit board (PCB) whose components can be easily separated by immersion in hot water. …

The electronics industry has a waste problem – currently over 100 million electronic units are discarded annually in the UK alone, making it one of the fastest growing waste streams.

 

It was estimated in a DTI [Dept. of Trade and Industry]-funded report, that around 85% of all PCB scrap board waste goes to landfill. Around 70% of this being of non-metallic content with little opportunity for recycling. This amounts to around 1 million tonnes in the UK annually equivalent to 81 x HMS Belfasts [ships]

This revolutionary materials technology allows a staggering 90% of the original structure to be re-used. For comparison, less than 2% of traditional PCB material can be re-used. The developed technology lends itself readily to rigid, flexible and 3D structures, which will enable the electronics industry to pursue new design philosophies – with the emphasis on using less materials and improving sustainability.

Here’s a video demonstrating the technology, from the ReUSE project news page,

I had to look at this twice to confirm what I was seeing. (I worked for a company that manufactured circuit boards for its products and the idea of immersing one of those in hot water is pretty shocking to me [pun intended].)

Sustainable nano society?

There’s a new nanotechnology organization according to the June 15, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

Nanotechnology has a window of opportunity to aid in the sustainability of the planet. A group of scientists and engineers has recognized this remarkable chance to raise up a sustainable industry while helping sustain the environment, economy and society. The Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization (SNO) promotes research, education, and responsibility to fulfill its mission.

The first meeting, November 4-6, 2012, in Washington DC features plenaries by Nobelist Sir Harry Kroto and National Nanotechnology Initiative founding father, Mihail (Mike) Roco and over 100 individual presentations.

Here’s more about the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization, from the home page,

The Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization (SNO) is a non-profit, worldwide professional society comprised of individuals and institutions that are engaged in:

  • Research and development of sustainable nanotechnology
  • Implications of nanotechnology for Environment, Health, and Safety
  • Advances in nanoscience, methods, protocols and metrology
  • Education and understanding of sustainable nanotechnology
  • Applications of nanotechnology for sustainability

SNO’s purpose is to provide a professional society forum to advance knowledge in all aspects of sustainable nanotechnology, including both applications and implications.

I find Roco’s involvement in the Nov. 2012 meeting interesting in light of some comments Dexter Johnson made in his June 8, 2 012 posting on Nanoclast (on the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers]) about Roco’s current campaign to encourage international nanotechnology research cooperation (Note: I have removed links from the excerpt),

Roco was the man behind turning a scattering of papers in condensed matter/solid state physics or chemistry into a national initiative. In doing so, he unwittingly—or not—launched an international nanotechnology arms race, which has seen at least 35 countries jump on to the bandwagon since the NNI was started.

Make no mistake, this “race” is no joke. There are billions of dollars at stake and national reputations seem to be built up on success in crossing the vague finish line before some other country.

So after unleashing this billion-dollar nanotech arms race, Roco now is urging collaboration in nanotech to provide the push the field needs to progress.

Well, yes, of course, and it’s about time somebody said it. It probably couldn’t have come from a better source either.

Dexter provides some good insight into the impact Roco has had on nanotechnology research in the US and internationally and, personally, I find these new developments quite fascinating.

Joint India-Australia nanobiotechnology research centre opens in India

I first wrote about the TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Research Centre (a joint India-Australia partnership) in my Nov. 30, 2010 posting when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was first signed. According to the Feb. 24, 2012 news item on Nanowerk, the centre has recently opened,

Speaking at the inauguration of the new lab facilities, Hon’ble Louise Asher, MP and Minister for Innovation, Services & Small business, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Australia said, “This outstanding facility is the result of a dynamic partnership between The Energy and Resources Institute of India (TERI) and Victoria’s [Australia] own Deakin University to augment research in the area of Nano Biotechnology, which will enable efficiency, effectiveness and provide solutions for a sustainable future.”

Highlighting the importance of TERI-DEAKIN partnership, Dr RK Pachauri, Director-General, TERI said, “Research at TERI seeks to find solutions to problems related to attaining sustainability and environmental degradation and has made a difference to the lives of many people. The organization’s commitment to these areas is a continuous process, and setting up the TERI-Deakin Nano Biotechnology Research Centre is one of the means through which, TERI plans to create capacity and expertise for technological solutions to problems of inefficient use of natural resources.”

Professor Jane den Hollander, Vice Chancellor, Deakin University said that the centre provided a hub for up to 50 PhD students who are undertaking research under the Deakin India Research Initiative (DIRI).

“What is particularly pleasing about this centre is that it is tackling research into global issues such as food security for a growing world population, sustainable agricultural practices and environmental sustainability,” she said.

The new facility opened in Gual Pahari, Gurgaon, approximately 35 mins. away (by car) from New Delhi, India (according to Feb. 24, 2012 article in the Asian Scientist about the new TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Research Centre).