University of Nottingham
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We all need to protect our planet, but how would you do it?

Everywhere we look, the media bombards us with the fact that if we do not make some radical changes to the way we live, the planet and the life upon it will not survive. This is clearly shown in some of the following scientific news stories:

  • We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” said Stephen Hawking in an interview with BBC News on 2 July 2017. “By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children.”
  • More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries, signed a letter last November, issuing a second warning to humanity with regard to the state of the planet.
  • Nature Geoscience published on 31 July 2018 an editorial entitled Waste not, want not”, outlining how the planet’s capacity to cope with the resulting waste products is limited and how a circular economy requires the ability to repair, re-use, refurbish and recycle component parts or return them to the biosphere.

But all hope is not lost

Over the years, YES alumni have come up with some innovative ideas to tackle environmental management challenges such as pollution and waste and creating renewable energy. Here are just a few of them:

AquaTect Solutions (University of Edinburgh) developed a fluorescent enzyme strip for rapid detection of waterborne pathogens in water treatment facilities cutting detection time by 85% saving companies water, energy and money.

BioHome (University of Liverpool) produced a domestic scale anaerobic digester to generate and store biogas using household food waste to fuel hobs and ovens.

BioPhosphate Solutions (University of Bristol) filtered phosphate from waste water and then sold by-product as a phosphate-rich fertiliser relieving dependence on mining the dwindling global phosphorus reserves.

BioPlas Technologies (University of Sheffield) genetically modified a bacterial species found in the Pacific Ocean which breaks down polystyrene into its monomer styrene moving us towards a zero-waste economy.

eGlaze (University of Cambridge) formulated a transparent phase change material for use in windows alleviating the energy burden of commercial and residential buildings.

Solox (University of Oxford) invented a novel catalyst for artificial photosynthesis enabling the production of hydrocarbons using existing oil infrastructure taking solar systems off-grid when oil runs out.

What’s your innovative idea for #YES18?

For the Energy, Engineering and Environmental workshop, remember your challenges are as follows:

  • Environmental management (such as issues involving drainage, flood, pollution, waste etc.)
  • Innovative manufacturing
  • Reducing the environmental impacts of transport
  • Renewable energy technologies
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence
  • Satellites and space technologies
  • Smart energy technologies
  • Smart urban environments
  • Sustainable energy storage

Don’t forget to be creative! With the idea being hypothetical (but plausible) blue-sky thinking lends itself perfectly to the production of innovative ideas. Your thoughts do not need to be hindered just because they may not be scientifically possible YET!

For those using the Researcher Development Framework tool, designed by Vitae to help Early Career Researchers (ECRs) evaluate and plan their own personal, professional and career development, a number of the descriptors in “knowledge and intellectual abilities” are touched upon through this process.

We look forward to finding out more about your amazing ideas for #ProtectOurPlanet.

Find out more about #YES18

Young Entrepreneurs Scheme

  • Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Nottingham University Business School
  • Jubilee Campus
  • Nottingham, NG8 1BB