What technologies today offer credible solutions to “green” the economy and provide a hard dollar return on investment?

There are plenty of “nice ideas,” but the key is for them to be economically sustainable and pragmatic. Pragmatic. That means they work and can improve profitability or reduce costs substantially and attract investment to deploy them. This is the stuff that drives business and responsible government leaders. Without wide deployment, the environmental impact will still be only on (recycled) paper. Here are two that could make a real difference, and are still under the radar:

Transforming Industrial Waste into Valuable Green Chemicals:

New-Sky-Energy-logoNew Sky Energy is transforming industrial waste into valuable chemicals through award winning CO2-negative chemical manufacturing technologies. They make clean chemistry and water treatment profitable by converting companies’ industrial wastes into the chemicals many industries buy every day.

They do this with a patented new version of industrial electrolysis, or electromechanical conversion, combined with a special reverse osmosis process that also generates useful carbon-negative by-products. Its by-products include:  carbonates (e.g., soda ash, limestone), acids (e.g., sulfuric or hydrochloric acid), bases (e.g., sodium hydroxide), and gases (e.g., hydrogen, oxygen).

Why would any company buy it? New Sky says that it can save industrial company customers significant amounts of money and help them gain control over their supply chains, while also cleaning up their industrial wastewater, allowing them to eliminate harmful chlorine and reduce CO2 emissions. For example, New Sky inked a deal last fall to help 212 Resources convert wastewater from oil and gas operations into cleaner “engineered water” that can be used in oil and gas drilling and production, reducing the need for environmentally-unfriendly chemicals to be used in the wastewater.

Their new process reduces purchasing costs, eliminates salt and CO2 waste, minimizes transportation costs, and reduces emissions. They also use renewable and off-peak electricity. New Sky won the 2012 Imagine H2O Prize and was a top national finalist in the national 2009 Clean Tech Open.

Watching How Your Driving Style Might Reduce CO2 and GHG, and Lower Your Fuel Costs:

573-1-20101219620How much gas do you use and emissions do you emit with your driving style?  It’s sobering to see your lead foot have a price other than the perennial speeding ticket risk. The premise of Driving Change is that fast starts and hard stops, speeding, and idling all increase the amount of fuel vehicles burn by as much as 30-40 percent and increases carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as well.

Enviance claims that by accurately and precisely measuring your driving behaviors, and putting in place driver-feedback mechanisms to improve them, drivers will save significantly on fuel costs and emissions. Driver-heavy companies might also improve their “green” reputation by having Driving Change on their fleets, for example.

So how does this work? A telematics device installed on each vehicle transmits data on idling, speed, aggressive driving, and fuel consumption via a wireless data network to an Internet system that analyzes that data and produces reports and ‘dashboards’ that show real time fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Drivers can securely access personal driving and emissions information through this website anytime. Managers and fleet supervisors will also be able to access “roll up” reports that compare performance, and provide tools to help managers set goals for improvements (and compare how departments perform).

The goal is that with this data, managers can implement strategies that change behaviors that in turn reduce costs, both environmental and monetary.  Driving Change is also working on new enhancements that will provide driver friendly tonal feedback in real time to inform drivers when they approach and exceed thresholds.

The first pilot of Driving Change was by the City and County of Denver, which claims it helped improve their fuel efficiency by 15 percent, including using team competitions and positive driver incentives.  Applying that result to a fleet of 1,000 vehicles, major fleets might realize savings up to $500 thousand each year, the company says.  GSA and the Department of Defense have federal pilot programs underway at Camp Lejeune with the goal of reducing fuel use by 20 percent, and reducing the corresponding emissions.

It should be interesting to see how those pilot programs work — and if any major automakers are interested in making this technology standard on their vehicles. That seems to be where the major economic and environmental value would be.

A DaveWritten by David Bingaman, our own Operations Advisor and Business Correspondent