Climate starters

A quick visit to startup fortress YesDelft shows that young entrepreneurs are also working on climate change solutions.

If it is up to the founders of Nederdalize, not just they but the whole
world will soon be sitting comfortably – not because global temperature is rising but because they have found a sustainable solution: using the same energy twice. How? By heating buildings using data centre computers. It means they need no cooling, while the people installing the computers do not need to turn on the heating. Energy supplier Eneco is interested in the idea and has installed  radiator-shaped computers in the homes of a test group.

Aqysta takes a very different, almost mediaeval, approach. One of its founders, Fred Henny – an industrial designer – and his four partners have quite literally rediscovered the wheel. Their affordable Barsha Pump is in fact little more than a river water wheel that pumps up water to irrigate nearby farmland. It requires no electricity and is therefore ideal for poor areas such as Nepal and Indonesia, where ten prototypes have now been installed. No get-rich-quick scheme for them – the engineers are still operating using a subsidy from the Dutch government. ‘This allows us to work on the full technical development of our spiral pump, for which we have applied for a patent, to produce a commercial version,’ explains Henny, ‘which we are doing completely by ourselves, by the way.’

His YesDelft colleagues  at Giaura (literally ‘the air of the earth’) began their startup at about the same time but are a bit further ahead in the process: the three – non-TU Delft – engineers are using a technology developed over the last fifteen years by ESA to remove polluting CO2 from the air and supply it as an energy source to businesses – horticultural companies, for example, or aquariums or diving centres. Their philosophy: we need CO2, for example to produce beer, fizzy drinks and medication, but the problem is it’s in the wrong place. ‘By capturing CO2 and releasing it in the right place, you suddenly make the world’s largest waste stream sustainable.’

Add to this potable seawater and the Delft climate start-ups will – with their sustainable technological tours de force – help us create a paradise that is cleaner than we ever could have imagined. Elemental Watermakers, an initiative of Delft engineers Sid Vollebregt and Reinoud Feenstra, uses just solar, wind and wave energy to turn seawater and brackish groundwater into potable water. ‘Ideal for remote areas faced with water shortages and a dodgy power supply,’ the founders comment. Something for Climate Summit participants to consider while enjoying a sustainably produced glass of sparkling water.


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