AsianScientist (Apr. 21, 2022) – Facing increasing pressure to act on the climate crisis, much of the world has begun making efforts to build a sustainable zero-carbon future. This shift, believed to be unfolding at a scale that exceeds that of the industrial and digital revolutions, seems to be every bit as transformative as the initial adoption of fossil-fuel-powered energy and machines.
In line with commitments under the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement, a growing number of businesses and governments are introducing increasingly progressive emissions goals and climate initiatives.
As such, in February 2021, the Singapore government unveiled the Singapore Green Plan 2030 (SGP30), a nationwide movement to advance the country’s agenda on sustainable development. Underpinned by five key pillars spanning the nation’s natural and urban spaces to energy and economic policy, the plan will influence most aspects of each Singaporean’s life—transforming the Republic into a more sustainable and liveable home.
To support the shift towards green solutions, IPI and its partners are focusing on innovative technologies that are set to catapult Singapore to the forefront of sustainability.
Increasing energy efficiency
Central to achieving a net-zero future is the decarbonization of the energy sector. This can be achieved by establishing a circular economy—where the value of materials and resources are maintained in the economy for as long as possible while minimizing waste. With eco-design, recycling and reuse efforts, greenhouse gas emissions that occur over the life cycle of a product can be drastically reduced.
One significant resource that can be recovered and repurposed is heat. In fact, more than half of all energy generated by human activities is lost as waste heat. To harness this often-wasted resource, innovators have designed methods and devices that capture and reuse heat as a renewable energy source.
For instance, electricity-free pumps, powered by recovered heat from industrial processes, can be used to pump and circulate liquids within a processing plant. Such pumps eliminate the reliance on fossil fuels and provide low-cost, low-maintenance mechanical power.
When it comes to waste energy, much of it is also trapped in the form of non-biodegradable plastic waste. Instead of disposing of them through pollution-inducing incineration or recycling them with energy-intensive processes, such plastic waste can be transformed into fuels, chemical feedstocks and even paint with an innovative chemical process.
After decomposing plastic waste like polyethylene and polypropylene into carbon black, oil and gases, a reactor containing a catalyst converts the gases into fuels and carbon nanotubes. Killing two birds with one stone, this technique helps solve humanity’s plastic problem while generating much-needed power sources and materials.
Enhancing food security and sustainability
Research and development are also growing rapidly in the space of agricultural technology. In fact, global investments in the field grew by an impressive 370 per cent from 2014 to 2020. From innovative seed technologies to artificial-intelligence-based precision farming software, the sector is rife with novel inventions as it seeks resilient, adaptive solutions to the challenges posed by the climate emergency.
As such, new methods for farming and protein production with less emissions have been introduced. One example is the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH)—a joint partnership between the Singapore Food Agency, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and Nanyang Technological University.
According to experts speaking at the futurepulse podcast by IPI, FRESH is poised to build Singapore’s food resilience as it sets out to enhance local food science capabilities as well as foster collaboration between regulators, researchers and industry players. With strong emphasis on urban farming and alternative proteins, innovations like next-generation agricultural sensors and consumer-friendly plant-based proteins can contribute to a more sustainable supply chain, while greatly reducing the resources required to meet growing protein demands.
Mobilizing greener transportation
A zero-carbon future would not be complete without addressing the challenges of the automotive industry. Significantly more environmentally friendly, the carbon emission of an electric vehicle (EV) is half that of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. As such, scaling up the transition to electric mobility is of paramount importance.
With the rapid advancement of EV technology, coupled with its plummeting costs, governments and policymakers are increasingly looking to phase out carbon-intensive ICE vehicles in favour of greener EVs.
For example, the SGP30 demonstrates a comprehensive EV Roadmap to ramp up efforts in adoption of these greener vehicles as costs of purchasing one continues to fall—indeed, it is expected to rival that of purchasing an ICE vehicle by the mid-2020s.
Furthermore, fruitful initiatives like ride-sharing EV fleet, BlueSG, offers a glimpse at the potential of shared EVs reducing traffic congestion as well as eliminating carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, the increase in electric vehicles must also be accompanied by a charging infrastructure that can keep up with demand. To encourage the adoption of EVs, the Singapore Land Transport Authority is committed to accelerating the deployment of a nationwide EV charging network and achieving a target of 60,000 EV charging points by 2030. Such changes would support a robust EV ecosystem in Singapore, dramatically reducing the nation’s vehicle-based emissions.
Businesses searching for enabling technologies can find relevant and diverse Tech Offers on the IPI Innovation Marketplace, or publish their technology or business needs that they require innovation support with.
Asian Scientist Magazine is a content partner of IPI.