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Innovation and new technologies

Innovation and new technologies

Extreme coastal water levels will increase considerably due to climate change, posing an increasing threat of coastal floods due to ‘overtopping’ — a cause of flooding

Climate change and anthropogenic pressures are widely expected to exacerbate hazards such as coastal flooding. One process that could contribute to this is overtopping which occurs when the extreme coastal water level exceeds the maximum elevation of the coastal system (such as dunes, dykes or cliffs). A new global analysis — using satellite-derived models of coastlines — estimates that under a high emissions scenario, the incidence of overtopping, globally, will accelerate faster than the global mean sea-level.<a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na6_en-1342_a-global-analysis-of-extreme-coastal-water-levels.pdf">Click here to read more</a>

 
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>

 
Managing Asian hornet incursions with nest dissection and microsatellite marker analysis

The yellow-legged Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) is an invasive species that poses a particular threat to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera). This study reports on the management of Asian hornet incursions in the UK, including the use of nest dissection and microsatellite marker analysis (a form of genetic testing) to determine the relatedness and reproductive status of detected nests and hornets. <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na4_en-1328-managing-incursions-of-vespa-velutina-nigrithorax-in-the-uk-an-emerging-threat-to-apiculture_v2.pdf">Click here to read more</a>

 
The 'Dark Ecological Network': strategically tackling light pollution for biodiversity and people

Night-time light pollution from artificial sources can disrupt biological processes and fragment habitats. This study presents a new concept for addressing the problem: a 'dark ecological network'. Its development involves mapping a new system of connected functional zones and corridors where dark can be preserved to help birds, bats and other taxa, and gives people the chance to experience starry skies. <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na2_en-1317_grasping-darkness_the-dark-ecological-network_v2.pdf">Click here to read more</a>

 
Carbon footprint of cardboard boxes outperforms plastic boxes when moving tomatoes internationally

Agricultural packaging impacts the environmental performance of food. This study compares the carbon footprint (CF), of two commonly used containers for international road transport of fruit and vegetables. The study assesses corrugated cardboard boxes (CCB) and polypropylene foldable boxes (PPB) in two different sizes, for a cradle-to-grave assessment of their environmental performance when used to transport tomatoes from Spain to Germany. <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na1_en-1313_lca-of-agricultural-tomato-packaging-boxes-for-climate-impact_v2.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>

 
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.