Disruptive Innovation

June 1, 2023
Sometimes it’s groundbreaking, other times it’s just disruptive

The world’s first carbon-neutral car is here, but it’s not a Volvo, BMW or Tesla.

It’s called the “Zem” and it’s made by just 35 student engineers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands.

The Zem takes its name from its goal: Zero Emissions Mobility.

To achieve this, the team started with a lithium-ion batteries, and added solar panels that can provide up to 15% of the car’s charge.

To reduce waste and production emissions, they 3D-printed the body and frame using recycled plastic, made the windows from polycarbonate, and fitted the interior with vegan leather made from pineapples.

Even after all that, the team realized that carbon neutrality would be impossible without innovation.

Their solution was to enable the Zem to eat carbon out of the air as it drives down the street.

As air flows through the front grill, it is directed into two filters. Carbon dioxide sticks to the filters, and clean air is recirculated.

Over the course of 200 miles of driving, the filters collect about 30 grams of CO2, which can be emptied out while the car’s batteries recharge at custom charging stations designed by the team.

“We pulled it off: Thrifty-five students with a lot of eagerness but a lot less experience than the main industry that we are competing with,” Nikki Okkels, the external relations manager for the student team, told CNN. “We’re just showing the big industry what is possible.”

Clean living

A new real estate development in Arizona has another plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Culdesac Tempe calls itself “the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the U.S.”

The $170 million development boasts more than 700 apartments, 44,000 sq ft of retail and amenities, 50 shared courtyards, and 2 miles of bike and foot paths on a 17-acre footprint.

Most importantly, it includes 0 sq ft of asphalt.

That’s because other than one small parking lot for guests, the neighborhood is built without any parking spaces or roadway.

Instead residents can walk to restaurants, a grocery store, a co-working space, a coffee shop, courtyards, and a central plaza, all within 5 minutes.

For travel outside the Culdesac Tempe, residents will receive $3,000 in annual mobility credits that can be used with city transit.

The community also has a partnership with Lyft and Bird for car and scooter needs, and electric cars will be available to rent on-site as well.

According to Erin Boyd, head of business operations at Culdesac, 75% of the units opening in Phase 1 later this year have already been pre-leased.

Noisy Florence 

Unfortunately, not all new innovations work out.

Homeowners in Florence, OR, say that a creative bridge repair in their city has not exactly been music to their ears.

Residents living along the Siuslaw River say the quiet and peaceful setting has been disrupted by loud, frequent rumbling sounds coming from the city’s iconic Siuslaw River Bridge.

“This noise gets up to over 100 decibels when trucks go over it,” homeowner Sarah Rodgers told ABC-9 news in April. “Somedays it’s like holy crap - it’s always got your attention.”

The Oregon DOT is responsible for maintaining the 1,568-ft-long drawbridge, including frequent repairs to the asphalt coating on the roadway due to the local environment.

In order to cut down on repairs, the ODOT decided to replace the 87-year-old bridge’s asphalt coating with a metal driving surface, which is expected to last longer with less maintenance.

The ODOT admits that the metal surface is the cause of the noise bothering area homeowners, but said in a statement: “We will continue to monitor noise levels and concerns, but at this time there are no plans to make any further changes.”

Unfortunately angry homeowners were only further frustrated when noise from the bridge caused them to mishear the second half of ODOT’s statement as “there are plans to make burgers for strangers.” R&B

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