Every year cement production contributes about 5% of the global emissions generated by humans. Any improvement around cement production will have a good impact on lowering carbon entering our atmosphere. In Sweden there’s one company using algae to lower its emissions. The country has carbon emission rates that are likely increasing in the next few years, which has inspired the cement company to figure out how to avoid paying more for producing the same amount of cement. Their solution: pumping the carbon output from their cement factory onto algae which then inhales all that delicious carbon, once the algae dies it becomes food.
Itâ€™s elegant: Take water from the Baltic Seaâ€™s Kalmar Strait next to the plant, pump it about 100 meters (330 feet, about the length of a soccer field) into bags that can hold about 3,000 liters (800 gallons) of liquid. Add key nutrients to multiply the naturally occurring algae, and then let them soak in the gases piped to it from the cement plant (what would otherwise be the factoryâ€™s waste product) while the sun shines.
Whatâ€™s more is the algae are rich in proteins and fats. After drying, they can be used as an additive for chicken- and fish-food. Heidelberg is in talks to sell the algae additives to major agricultural companies like Cargill. At its current size, the Algoland system in Degerhamn can only produce about a few kilograms of algae a day. But the plant has all it needs to scale up to make many metric tons of algae dailyâ€”light, water, fresh algae, and lots of spaceâ€”and thus capture many metric tons of carbon dioxide in the process.
The science underlying Algoland is not novel, but what is new is how well it integrates the many parts entailed into an economically feasible carbon-capture plant. The used-up limestone quarry can provide the space; a greenhouse built on it ensures the right temperature and light is available even when the sunâ€™s not shining; and the Baltic Sea is a source for both water and fresh algae.
Car traffic cripples cities and destroys them. For the last hundred years the common solution to transportation issues was to cater to car drivers and this has left us with endless traffic and awful pollution. The solution today is a mixture of public transit and encouraging people to ride bikes.
In Sweden, they want families to get rid of their large vehicles and hop on bikes. In an interesting pilot study people who promise to drive less and ride their bicycle instead will get free bikes. This will lower demand on roadways while improving the health of participants.
Sweden faces some of the same infrastructure problems as the U.S. Most cities have been planned with cars in mind, so cycling to Ikea to run an errand might not seem easy.
â€œIn some cases, it can be challenging to use a bike to, for example, do your shopping, or take your children to preschool and then get to your workplace in the morning,â€ Waern says. â€œAnd while this is absolutely true in some cases, the fact of the matter is that this can be more a mental barrier than an actual one. Most people can, with the right bike and a bit of planning, manage to do all these things and more.”
The project hopes to start to break down those mental barriers by sticking with each participant for six months.
Late last year Sweden ran out of garbage which caused problems in their energy network. In an ironic step, Sweden’s efficient waste diversion programs are so good that their trash-burning power plants couldn’t find anything to burn. To keep electricity flowing they turned to neighbour Norway for their trash.
Let’s hope that these waste-diversion programs become just as effective elsewhere!
Aside from the economic benefit, Swedenâ€™s system of sustainability clearly has vast environmental benefits. Aside from traditional recycling programs, their waste-to-energy system ensures minimal environmental impact from the countryâ€™s waste.
Swedenâ€™s extremely efficient circle of consumption, waste management, and energy output provides the current global population and coming generations inspiration and guidance towards a more sustainable future. They represent one ally of many who understand the need to live sustainably and who fully commit to doing so.
Vaexjoe, a town in Sweden, is looking to be the greenest city in the EU. They’re doing quite well already. It’s great to see that cities are protecting the environment as best they can with such enthusiasm.
While the European Union (EU) aims to raise its share of renewable energy consumption to 20 percent by 2020, Vaexjoe, a town of 80,000 people nestled between lakes and forests in Sweden’s south, can boast of already exceeding 50 percent — and 90 percent when it comes to heating.
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant dropped by 30 percent between 1993 and 2006.
“It’s a lot but we’re not satisfied, we want to reduce them further,” says Henrik Johansson, an environmental expert at city hall.
In fact, Vaexjoe, which in 1996 set the ambitious goal of ultimately reducing its consumption of fossil fuels to zero, wants to halve its CO2 emissions by 2010 and reduce them by 70 percent by 2050.
In Sweden a new office complex will be heated through the power of body heat. The offices will be attached, or really close, to a major train station that is already heated by the people who use it.
“We had a look at it and thought ‘We might actually be able to use this’,” said Karl Sundholm, project leader at Jernhusen, which also owns the station. “This feels good. Instead of just airing the leftover heat out we try to make use of it.”
Jernhusen markets the building as “environment smart” and aims for its energy consumption to be half of what a corresponding building usually is.
The bodily warmth from the central station will be redirected to heat up water. The investment will be around 200 000 Swedish crowns, Sundholm said.