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Environmental Technologies

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EU ETV keeps growing!

Kicking off the new year with some exciting news from EU Environmental Technology Verification (EU ETV)!

 
A new resource-efficiency framework for bridge design highlights that adaptability is key to circularity

Increasing resource efficiency in the construction industry, in line with circular economy principles, could greatly reduce waste and increase sustainability. Focusing on bridges — often demolished when requirements change — this study presents a way to rate the circularity of different design options. The new framework could help decision making at the procurement stage of infrastructure projects.<a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na5_en-1338_development-of-a-bridge-circularity-assessment-framework.pdf">Click here to read more</a>

 
Biocide release from antifouling paints may be higher than reported, finds Swedish study

Researchers have evaluated the EU’s environmental risk assessment tool for antifouling paint used on leisure boats. Currently, product approval applications can report biocide release rates that have been ‘corrected’ to account for potential overestimation. However, field observations in Swedish waters suggest that these reductions are not accurate and — in order to protect marine ecosystems — should not be used. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/560na1_en-biocide-release-from-antifouling-paints-may-be-higher-than-reported-finds-swedish-study.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Nanopesticides may have the potential to increase food production — but are they environmentally safe?

As the world’s population increases, so does the need for environmentally sustainable ways to increase food production. Nanopesticides are growing in popularity, as they appear able to achieve the same results as traditional agrochemicals when applied at lower amounts. However, regulatory and ecotoxicological research gaps remain. A literature review now identifies these gaps, and suggests the steps needed to enable sustainable nanopesticide use on a global scale. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/558na2_en-nanopesticides-may-have-the-potential-to-increase-food-production-but-are-they-environmentally-safe.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Bioreactors and wetlands: two-step solutions could support lagoon recovery in Spain

The Mar Menor coastal saltwater lagoon, in south-east Spain, is the largest such water body in the Mediterranean basin. The lagoon is experiencing a ‘eutrophication crisis’ as excess nutrients — largely nitrates, but also phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon — are washed into the lagoon from its surroundings. A study explores the Mar Menor’s nutrient inputs and evaluates the results of a two-step system including a <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/research-area/environment/nature-based-solutions_en">nature-based solution (NBS)</a>; an initiative that works with and enhances nature to address societal challenges. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/558na1_en-bioreactors-and-wetlands-two-step-solutions-could-support-lagoon-recovery-in-spain.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Nanoplastics may reduce efficacy of constructed wetlands for water treatment

Water bodies absorb the nitrogen released by human activity and must, therefore, be protected against nutrient overloading (or eutrophication), which can cause significant environmental damage. Constructed wetlands (CWs) are widely used as an eco-friendly treatment method for this; however, the efficacy of CWs may be affected by the presence of emerging contaminants in wastewater. This study explores how nano-sized particles of polystyrene plastic (nanoplastics) affect nitrogen removal (denitrification<sup>1</sup>) in CWs. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/557na4_en_nanoplastics-may-reduce-efficacy-of-constructed-wetlands-for-water-treatment.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Waste coffee grounds could provide carbon for use in high-energy storage devices

Demand for portable energy storage is growing with rising demand for products such as electric cars. Supercapacitors supply a higher power density and longer cycle life than a conventional battery but require porous carbon in their manufacture. A new study presents a method to create large amounts of carbon — suitable for supercapacitor manufacture — from an abundant, low-cost source: used coffee grounds.

 
Exploring the secrets to success in sustainable-technology demonstration projects

Demonstration projects can represent a critical intermediate step between research and development (R&D) and large-scale commercialisation; yet many involving new sustainable technologies fail. In order to map the internal and external factors that enable or prohibit demonstration projects from reaching their goals, a case study of 21 projects was conducted. Qualitative data collected from funding applications and interviews were analysed to identify key themes. Based on these findings, the study proposes a process model outlining the key activities for setting up a new demonstration project.

 
Can 3D printing reduce environmental impacts in the automotive industry?

As 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), begins to replace conventional manufacturing, the environmental impacts of its implementation must be assessed. This study conducted a life cycle assessment (LCA) to investigate the environmental and resource implications of using AM to manufacture the metal parts of an engine in a light distribution truck. In the LCA, the impacts of both present and possible future states of AM technology were compared with current conventional manufacturing. The results suggest that there are potential environmental and resource benefits1 to AM technologies, but that these benefits rely on the achievement of a clean energy source and further technological development.