Technology Being Used to Combat Freshwater Shortages, Deforestation

Two startups are applying technology to make the world a better place.
Donna Fuscaldo

A shortage of freshwater and the deforestation of the planet are major global concerns, that will have a devastating impact on society if left unchecked. 

Technology is increasingly playing a role in solving the world’s problems. Two entrepreneurs applying technology to curb the use of freshwater and stop the burning of tropical forests are Infinite Cooling and C16 Biosciences. 

They laid out their vision of a society where water isn’t wasted and the world doesn’t burn down tropical rain forests to make way for palm oil during a presentation at CES


Freshwater becoming a scarcity 

As it stands globally freshwater is a scarcity and it's only expected to get worse as the population grows. One of the biggest users of freshwater are larger thermoelectric power plants, making up 39% of the freshwater withdrawn in the U.S. alone, said Karim Khalil, co-founder, and CTO of Infinite Cooling during the CES panel discussion on building companies out of resilient technologies. Large cooling towers give off plumes of water that is evaporated into the air permanently.  

But Infinite Cooling was able to come up with a solution that is now being tested at MIT’s 20 megawatt co-generation plant on its campus. Above the 20-foot cooling tower is Infinite’s proof of concept technology which sends an electric charge to the plume, creating an electric field that forces the water to rain down into a collection area.

Infinite's technology can be used at power plants and other industrial processes, saving companies 20% to 30% in water consumption, which the startup said results in $1 million in annual savings. It can also remove 100% of plumes on cooling towers.

Palm oil to blame for the burning planet 

Moving on to deforestation, Shara Ticku, the founder and CEO of C16 Biosciences is making sustainable palm oil using a fermentation process similar to what is used to make beer to create an oil that looks and feels just like palm oil. The entrepreneur pointed to the Impossible Burger as one example of how companies are making sustainable products. C16’s palm oil is another example. 

Palm oil is the most popular form of vegetable oil and is found in many of the products we use and consume. The lions share of the palm oil-85% according to Ticku-come from Indonesia and Malaysia where rainforests are being destroyed to make way for palm oil plants. 

“The planet is burning and palm oil is one of the biggest contributors to this,” said Ticku. 

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