Climate change and the need to manage diminishing fossil fuels are the two most important issues that countries around the world are facing at this point in time. In order to save our future and the coming generations there is a need to act now in order to save energy wastage and use renewable energy sources. World leaders have taken notice of the problem and many have signed the Kyoto protocol, an international treaty committing signatory countries to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases from 1990 levels.
For years we have been using plastic, which is not biodegradable and has hence caused accumulation of waste and is now causing land and water pollution. Scientists from MIT, USA, say that 3D printed products and parts from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA) material could be helpful in solving the pollution issue since they are biodegradable materials.At later stages plant cellulose that are a biorenewable and biodegradable material could replace the polymers used in current generation 3D printers.
Countries that have an abundant scope of using solar energy face two major issues when it comes down to bringing it to their masses: Efficiency and Cost.
The efficiency has been around 20% but costs are too high at this point. Currently solar cells are being manufactured by large scale industries. On the other hand, researchers from Ohio University have successfully printed solar cells using 3D printers. If more people print their own solar cells using individual 3D printers, countries can become self sufficient and the dependency on fossil fuels will reduce drastically.
For a long time petroleum companies have been facing the challenges of oil spillage and regulatory sanctions during transportation of fossil fuels. BP has announced that they will soon be conducting a study on the effect of 3D printing on the global supply chains that the oil industry relies on. More than a fifth of oil consumption results from freight transportation, especially over long distance across globe, with 3D printing they can manufacture in house and save wastage of oil.
While Donald Trump may have pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, there is increasing global consensus about the reality of climate change. With temperatures rising steadily there has been concern over the bleaching of coral reefs. However, the coral restoration processes currently in use, like growing them in labs and transplanting them, are labour and time intensive. Scientist have been using 3D printing technology in an attempt to save the coral reefs. One island, Bonaire is looking to use 3D printing to overcome this.
Scientist have designed 3D printed coral that mimics actual coral in terms of shape, colour and texture. These artificial coral attract coral polyps, the organisms that make up coral reefs. The congregation and growth of these corals, in turn, attract organisms that rely on corals and help rejuvenate dying reefs or create new ones altogether.
When most people picture wind turbines, they think of huge wind farms dominating landscape with pristine, sleek, white towers. But Kyle Bassett from the University of Windsor, has created a small wind turbine that can be installed at the top of any house or building using 3D printers. This will help in solving the energy crisis faced in many remote areas of the country. If this concept is adopted in a developing and technically advancing country India, every region could potentially generate its own electricity rather than relying on power plants and big corporations. This method would also be more eco-friendly and cost effective.
And thus, 3D printing technology, in a small but important way is helping us save our planet. As more and more research goes into its applications we will be able to explore the wonders of 3D printing technology very soon.