The Next Step in Sustainability? Machines That are Helping the Planet

Date: September 17, 2018

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Machines are now indispensable to everyday life, be it to get us to work, to keep our food fresh, or to pay our bills. With the increased focus on the environment, more and more appliances and devices are also being invented as eco-friendly solutions to serious global sustainability issues. In fact, these machines are now more crucial than ever in reducing our carbon footprint. We take a look at the machines that are helping the planet.

The Ocean Clean-up

This initiative aims to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and has just been deployed from San Francisco Bay. It took 5 years of research, engineering and testing, but the massive plastic-cleaning device has now started its journey across the world’s oceans.

Created by 24-year-old Dutch innovator Boyan Slat, this device is intended to reduce the staggering amount of plastic polluting our oceans. With at least 8 million metric tons of plastic being poured into the sea every year – not counting things like fishing nets – it’s now more important than ever to ensure that we can clean it up.

The 2,000-foot-long array, System 001, is expected to collect 50 tons of plastic in the first year alone; if everything goes well – and with the launch of 60 more arrays – we could reduce the garbage patch’s plastic by 50% in the next five years.

However, there is some criticism towards this decision. Some members of the scientific community say that this system is unable to reach the plastic that has already started to break down into little pieces that are sinking further into the oceans. There is also a fear that some wildlife may become trapped inside the device as it sweeps the waters.

For now, System 001 is still unproven technology, but all the simulations and models appear to indicate an exciting next few months.

Beer into Sand

Drink beer and help the planet; at least, that’s the motto for a company in New Zealand. DB Breweries is trying to fight against global sand shortage with a machine that crushes beer bottles into sand. This sand is being used to save the country’s beaches – after all, with sand being a major component of many industries, such as construction and pharmaceuticals, it’s not surprising to hear that two-thirds of the world’s beaches are receding.

The machines are likely to be used in places like restaurants and bars. It can recycle bottles instantly by removing their silica dust content and their plastic labels, leaving sand behind. Each machine can create 200 grams of this sand substitute in a fantastic five seconds.


There is no denying that air pollution is a major problem around the world, especially in Asia, with carbon-rich pollutants continuing to rise in recent years. Air Ink is “the first ink made out of recycled air pollution” and was created by Graviky Labs.

The technology is simple. A device called Kaalink is fitted into the exhaust system of diesel cars and can collect up to 93% of emissions. They’re then processed to remove carcinogenic substances and heavy metals.

It works by purifying and repurposing carbon soot from automotive emissions, which are, perhaps, the biggest air pollutant; 30 to 50 minutes of car pollution are enough to fill one Air Ink pen, and around 2,500 hours of driving is equivalent to 150 litres of ink.

Amongst other applications, this ink has already been used in street art in the Sheung Wan district in Hong Kong.

HomeBiogas 2.0

The purpose of this machine is to give value to waste food. By recycling food scraps in a safe and convenient way – and by creating renewable energy through the process – this technology promises to help households reduce their carbon footprint.

HomeBiogas 2.0 is a closed-loop cycle where homeowners reuse and recycle resources, reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfills. It can also turn food scraps into cooking gas, which then flows directly to the kitchen stove. Up to 6 litres of household waste can be fed into the machine, which is capable of recycling almost anything.

Cost-effective and environmentally-friendly.

Pollinating Robots

With pollinators such as butterflies and bees at risk of extinction, they could use all the help they can get.

Researchers in Japan are testing drones capable of carrying pollen from one plant to another like a small insect. The small quadcopter drone created by the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology measures 4 x 4 cm and weighs just 15 grams; it uses propellers to ensure agility and balance and, while there is still a lot of work to be done with this research, results are promising.

It is expected that, in the future, robots such as these will eventually be capable of helping people during agricultural production.

Dean Group and Sustainability

At Dean Group, we also take sustainability very seriously and do our part for the environment.

Within the investment casting process we aim to recycle all of our metals and waxes. Even the small act of recycling our paper waste is important to us and we are continuously reviewing our waste streams and carbon footprint. Our latest improvement project was to introduce a new variable speed compressor, which reduced our energy consumption with the added advantage of using the warm exhaust air back into the factory to help with our heating needs.

Our commitment to green technologies includes our rapid prototyping process. This offers a quicker turnaround of the exact quantities of samples our customers need to help validate their new product introduction process, thus removing the need to produce large quantities of untested parts.

In addition to this, our ISO 9001:2015 accreditation means we always maintain the highest standards of quality, from our casting processes to our inspection and testing methods. We strive to understand our clients’ needs, subsequently conducting all the relevant research to provide efficient and cost-effective solutions.

With our superior investment casting processes, you can have all the parts and components you require for your project, whilst maintaining the necessary quality standards throughout their lifetime.

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