Sustainable design

Pumping Efficiency Into Electrical Motors

Read the full story from the University of Adelaide.

University of Adelaide researchers are using new magnetic materials to develop revolutionary electrical motors and generators which promise significant energy savings.

They have used the new motors to develop patented highly efficient water pump systems with potential widespread application.

McDonough to lead World Economic Forum on circular economy

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The World Economic Forum has appointed famed designer and author William McDonough to its new group that aims to advance the circular economy. As the leader of the new Meta-Council on the Circular Economy, he will be charged with overseeing programs to prove the benefits of a closed-loop economy to the environment and society.

Gecko-inspired dry adhesive, a slow-cooked disruptive innovation

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

“Disruptive” conveys such a sense of brutal, even violent, shift, doesn’t it? Shattered planets, chaotic classrooms and collapsing towers come to my mind when I think of the term. But, of course, disruption comes more frequently in the slow-cooked version: climate change, for instance. Similarly, innovation can follow the same typology, the old joke being that he or she was an overnight success 10 years in the making. The model for innovation, as it turns out, is more likely Thomas Edison’s highly planned research and development organization than Archimedes in his bathtub.

The gecko lizard has been a poster child of biomimetics for nearly 15 years since it sparked the interest of a young postdoc researcher in the integrative biology department at the University of California, Berkeley, in the late 1990s. Kellar Autumn, now a professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., was on vacation when he became intrigued with the gecko’s ability to stick to his bungalow’s ceiling. How do they do that? The question led to hundreds of journal papers by laboratories across the globe, more than $30 million in U.S. federal grant funding and over 100 U.S. patents and patent applications.

The three stages of scaling up sustainable innovation

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainable innovation is enthralling. From Nike’s Flyknit Racer, which creates only two-thirds the waste of a typical running shoe by knitting the shoe from a single thread; through Tesla’s cars, making electric cars sexy; to Novelis’s evercan, an aluminium sheet that contains more than 90 percent recycled content. Each has the potential to change the way we do things and revolutionize the industries around them.

But we have to keep excitement about these new and shiny things in check. These products only have the potential to disrupt if they get to scale and if the business conditions allow and accelerate that scale — something Forum for the Future calls #theBIGshift. That means success goes beyond sales of these products to dramatic market penetration — the majority of cars being electric, for example, or no more virgin aluminum being used in packaging.

Scale is still all too often overlooked. That is probably because doing it can be seen as less about creativity and more about hard slog. And there is surprisingly little practical advice on how to do it. Enter the Scaling Up Impact framework that starts to explore the “how” of scaling through market mechanism.

Through this framework, we have found that an ecosystem for scale in which most innovations require three levels of action to be really successful.

How A Product Design Oversight In Your Face Wash Became An Environmental Disaster

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Sometimes product innovation turns out beautifully. Other times, it gets messy and requires a clean up. The story of plastic microbeads in personal care products–the tiny spheres in many body washes and toothpastes that Illinois became the first state to ban last week–is an example of the latter.

Ford, Heinz Working To Make Car Parts From Tomatoes

Read the full story in the Consumerist.

The last thing you want when you buy a car is a lemon. But the folks at Ford and Heinz think you may someday want a tomato; or at least a car made with tomato-based parts.

Unlikely collaborators Ford Motor Company and H.J. Heinz Company announced Tuesday they are exploring the use of tomato fibers in developing sustainable, composite materials for vehicle manufacturing, while also reducing the overall environmental impact of automobiles.

Remanufacturing Key to Sustainable Supply Chains

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Remanufacturing drives sustainability, according to APICS Foundation research that finds 68 percent of respondents say sustainability is the primary advantage associated with remanufacturing and 41 percent already consider it a formal component of their organization’s sustainability policies.