October Sustainability Spotlight
The University of Newcastle has developed a new construction material called mycocrete, made from mycelium (mushroom roots). Mycocrete offers an eco-friendly alternative to traditional concrete, which is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike previous methods that used rigid molds, mycocrete uses a flexible, permeable knitted mold that allows mycelium to grow in various shapes and structures. This innovation results in a mycelium-based material that is stronger than traditional mycelium bricks. While mycocrete is still in early stages, it has the potential to revolutionise the construction industry by offering a sustainable alternative to conventional concrete.
Denmark has launched the world's "first green container ship," named Laura Maersk, which runs entirely on green methanol. The ship, owned by Maersk, marks a promising milestone in the shipping industry's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for about 3% of global emissions. The vessel is the first of 25 methanol-powered ships ordered by Maersk, aiming to sail by 2030 and save 2.75 million tonnes of CO2 annually. While green methanol is a cleaner fuel source, it has cost and safety challenges compared to fossil fuel-produced methanol. Production costs are higher, and it must be handled with care due to toxicity and flammability. Despite these challenges, the market for green methanol is growing, with various sectors recognizing its potential, and efforts are underway to increase its production and use. The Laura Maersk's launch is a significant step in decarbonising the shipping industry and addressing climate change.
UK households have seen a 62% increase in the installation of heat pumps and solar panels compared to the previous year, with over 120,000 certified renewable technologies installed in the first half of the year. This surge is driven by high energy bills and environmental concerns. The upfront cost remains a barrier, but the UK government is offering incentives for low-carbon heating systems.
Green methanol production is growing but faces cost and safety challenges. The UK has ambitious targets for solar and heat pump installations. Challenges include recruiting skilled installers to meet demand and improving energy efficiency through retrofitting initiatives.