A Year of Innovation: Our Most-Read Articles in 2018

This year we have covered a wide range of topics regarding technological innovation. Our site has witnessed carbon dioxide rocks to combat global warming, moss-covered tires that purify the air while on the move, an endless number of biomimetic solutions such as buildings with refrigeration systems inspired by pine-tree cones or tide turbines based on the movement of seaweeds, smart nightwear that monitors vitals… And nanotechnology, loads of nanotechnology.

1. You surely use one kind of wearable or another to track your fitness and maybe show off on social media, but this technology goes a step beyond. A new range of clothes that alert of heart conditions and other health issues. Hopefully, they will soon be used in hospitals to aid doctors in their daily work.

2. Biomimicry, i.e., the science that draws its inspiration from nature to innovate is a fascinating field of knowledge. In fact, we devoted a whole article to it a while ago. Among the news that piqued our interest was the implementation of pine cone structures, which expand or contract in the presence of moisture, to building roofs. Thus, the structures would fold when exposed to rain and, conversely, open on sunny days.

3. We are used to dealing with topics related to renewable energy, but this system is quite remarkable, as it can generate electricity based solely on the temperature variations in the day/night cycles.

4. If global warming were to be a movie, carbon dioxide would certainly be cast as the villain. In this article, while waiting for a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, we explored other innovative solutions as the mineral carbonation of CO2. Yes, transforming this gas into a harmless rock.

5. Solar thermal is one of the least known alternatives within renewable energy. This project improves the efficiency and costs of this type of plants by combining them with solar PV, which allows developing solar thermal farms where the heliostats (reflectors) behave like sunflowers and follow the sun automatically to optimize the amount of solar radiation absorbed.

6. Driverless cars receive a good deal of news coverage, but this type of vehicles also have applications in other fields, especially in hostile and extreme environments. For instance, mining is one of the industries where robotics will improve the safety and efficiency of work environments.

7. And, speaking of extreme environments, underwater exploration and the offshore industry are also benefiting from the use of autonomous robots. Dangerous maintenance tasks are now carried out by swarms of machines working round the clock. Learn about the SWARMs project and its applications.

8. Seawater desalination is an expensive and power-hungry technology. Any solution, therefore, aiming to optimize its efficiency is good news indeed. In this case, the scientists created a nanostructured membrane inspired by the fur of polar bears. By the way, we also learned that the polar bear fur isn’t white, but actually translucent.

9. And more biomimicry. The sense of touch in robots is a rapidly developing field: the new machines can handle heavy loads, but also are able to work with fragile and delicate objects. This technology was inspired by the whiskers of seals to develop a new generation of extremely sensitive robots.

10. Sometimes, looking for the latest news we tend to forget that some of the answers to our contemporary challenges can hide in the most distant past. For example, an Egyptian pigment that is being used to cool buildings thanks to its unusual reflective properties.

11. If you thought that electric vehicles were the apex of green technologies, wait until you read this. A tire manufacturer suggested transforming cars into gardens on wheels by implementing moss in them. The goal was to capture carbon dioxide and create smart wheels that would warn other drivers about any maneuvers.

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