World Environment Day - How patents are saving our environment

05 June 2018

In celebration World Environment Day 2018, we take a look at some patents in the field of green technology and see how they’re could help save our environment.

Turbines inspired by whales

A biologist, an aeronautical engineer, and an entrepreneur took inspiration from nature and developed the highly efficient “Tubercule Blades” described in EP1805412. Contrary to the convention of making blades as smooth as possible to reduce air resistance, these inventors discovered that making blades with the bumps or “tubercles” on the edge – just like the ones on a humpback whales’ flippers! – lead to a significant increase in performance. They can be used to help wind farms produce up to 20% more power whilst reducing noise pollution and even increase lifespan by 25%.

EP1805412

Super-sponges

Like many great inventions, this novel “Super-sponge” was created accidentally, by leaving a machine running overnight at the wrong pressure and temperature. The result was a fluffy cotton-like wax, nicknamed “magic cotton”, which can adsorb around 7-times its weight in water-repellent liquids such as oil without adsorbing any water. This is a significant improvement upon existing materials, which could only adsorb 4-times their weight. Moreover, this super-sponge doesn’t leave behind any residues, works faster than other known materials, and is even cheaper to produce. All in all, this invention could have huge implications for the environment, particularly in decontaminating polluted water and oil-spills. Interestingly, the inventor of European patent EP2392630 still isn’t sure how his Super-sponge for oil spills works, demonstrating that you don’t need to know why your invention works in order to obtain a patent – you only need to explain how to reproduce it!

A closed-loop shower

Did you know that a conventional shower can use up to 100 litres of water in just 10 minutes? Thankfully, the closed-loop shower system described in EP2793667, filters and reuses water, meaning that it consumes 90% less water and 80% less energy than a conventional shower! Whilst the concept may sound simple, the technology is far from it. This device analyses the quality of water by measuring its conductivity 20 times per second, discards water that reaches a maximal level of contamination, and filters the rest in real-time so that it can be reused immediately. It automatically replaces any water lost by splashing and uses two different filters to produce water that is cleaner than tap water. Not only does this invention save water, energy, and money, the water in this closed-loop system is also protected from changes in water pressure and temperature, making for a more pleasurable showering experience!

EP2793667

Joanna Rowley

Joanna Rowley

Trainee Patent Attorney

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