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We have an opportunity to leave the world better than we found it. At the heels of the UN climate change conference, COP26 in Scotland, connected industries are focused on their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions and thus their environmental impact.
But for all the urgency, I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds wading through pledges, research, whitepapers, audits, and commitments (whether in text or brightly coloured graphs) just a tiny bit dry, however laudable the plans and intentions towards net zero. Further, I will not bore you with stats — you know the environmental whys of the need to reduce our impact on the planet. I’ll also not repeat the known benefits of IoT in predictive maintenance et al., energy efficiencies, etc. I think we all have a strong understanding of these. Instead, I’d like to focus on the business opportunity and look at some ways innovative companies in the industrial space are carving out a low carbon future for fellow industry players.
Industrial IoT is a highly competitive space. End-users are becoming more aware of the benefits of carbon neutrality, and stakeholders and investors are putting pressure on industries, emphasizing sustainability as part of a company’s ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) priorities.
There is also pressure from regulators and reporting requirements — and the opportunity for incentives such as government subsidies.
Therefore there’s never been a better time to be green, and here are just some of the companies working within connected industries to increase sustainability.
Compressed air production is an integral part of most industrial manufacturing processes. It is used in almost every industrial plant to power machines, tools and processes and to move materials in different ways.
However, most oil-free compressed air is produced using “oil-free” screw technology, which is inefficient (using excess energy) and results in high maintenance costs. Further, it is not really oil-free, and the Teflon-coated screw elements wear quite rapidly in use. This results in a deterioration of the system efficiency and results in screw elements being replaced typically every 4 to 7 years.
In response, Tamturbo has developed Touch-Free turbo compressors that are 100% oil-free. The solution lowers greenhouse gas emissions of industrial operations by reducing the primary energy use of air compressors and avoiding oil. It also eliminates the risk of oil contamination. The technology is smaller in size than the traditional solution, almost maintenance-free, and designed for refurbishing. As a result, it also positively impacts materials use and reduces waste sent to landfills or incinerators.
The company asserts that its technology operates with practically no wear and tear, eliminating the need for conventional maintenance. This means cost savings and less unnecessary maintenance downtime, and it also extends the technical service life of the equipment, which reduces the environmental burden caused by waste.
Image source: Cambrian
Created by University spin-off, Cambrian, the Ecovolt Volt Reactor is the world’s first bio electrically-enhanced wastewater treatment solution, converting wastewater to renewable energy. Leveraging electrically-active microbes, the EcoVolt Reactor treats wastewater while extracting clean energy and clean water. This makes it possible to reduce wastewater management costs and achieve sustainability goals.
Last month Cambrian and American craft brewer Anchor Brewing announced a partnership along with the City of San Francisco to drastically reduce the amount of water used operating a historic brewery in the Bay Area.
With a capacity of over 20,000,0000 gallons per year, Anchor’s system will treat and recycle 100% of the process water to SFPUC reuse quality, exceeding California Title 22 standards, and result in a drastic and immediate net water reduction at the brewery.
Treated water will be used exclusively for brewery processes like tank and floor washing, allowing the brewery to mitigate the volume of water drawn from natural sources. This decrease in water use coupled with a reduction in downstream processing accounts for an estimated reduction of up to 92 metric tons of carbon per year.
There are many instances of excess thermal energy being generated in places like factories, supermarkets, and hospitals. What if you could share this thermal energy with other buildings to reduce the total energy needed for the community?
Canadian startup Cascara Energy is focused on the development, commercialization, and operation of Community District Energy Networks (CDEN) to enable the sharing of electricity and thermal energy – heating and cooling within the community.
The startup recovers waste heat from landfills and wastewater effluent streams and free cooling systems such as data centers, cold storage, and supermarkets. This recovered waste heat caters to the heating and cooling requirements within the community. The startup also stores this energy in a thermal energy storage (TES) system or seasonal thermal energy storage (STES) facility to reduce grid peak demands.
Really, I could have provided 1000 different examples of out-of-the-box innovation in the industrial space which are shaking up industry environmental commitments and providing tangible solutions to real-time industry problems.
Anthony Sayers, Director of IoT Ecosystems & Partners, Davra
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