Consider waste recycling: you have to sort out the recyclable items, clean them, and lug them to a bin. While being eco-friendly is often linked with expense and hassle, the 470-plus exhibitors at the 10th Eco Expo Asia last week are convinced that their latest green technologies can save long-term costs while improving living standards. Young Post checked out some of the products on show:
Issue: In Hong Kong, it's pretty hard to imagine life without air conditioning. The Environmental Protection Department says one third of the electricity used in the city helps us to keep cool. While fans use less energy, too many fans whirring at full speed is a sure recipe for headaches.
Solution: American company Big Ass Fans produces fans of huge size, not speed, to efficiently circulate air in a large, open space. One of their models is the Essence fan, which has a diameter of 2.4-4.3 metres. It has curved blades that increase contact with air.
The company says that one 2.4m Essence fan can do the work of 28 52-inch fans with just a seventh of the energy. Using the fan alongside air conditioners can reduce cooling costs by 20 per cent. Additional benefits of fans over air conditioners include keeping away insects, reducing humidity and improving ventilation.
Cost: One Essence fan costs HK$36,000, but communications manager Sam Han says the fans will save the same amount on energy bills within a year.
Currently used by: models of big fans are used in the Zero Carbon Building, trampoline park Bounce, PLK Laws Foundation College
Paper made of stone
Issue: According to the conservation group WWF, the world produces 400 million tonnes of paper each year.
Although half the resources come from recycled fibre and other fibre sources, unsustainable logging by some businesses in the industry damages forests, leading to the destruction of habitats for wildlife, and increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Solution: Taiwan's Lung Meng Technology has invented imSTONE, a fibre-less paper made using trimmed marble waste (or other stones containing calcium carbonate) and a non-toxic plastic called high density polyethylene (HDPE).
By grinding the marble into powder and mixing it in a 8:2 ratio with HDPE, it can be stretched to produce paper of various thicknesses. Stone paper has a variety of uses, from burger wrappers to folder organisers.
It is naturally white, and produced without any chemical processes. It is also more durable, water-resistant (the downside is that this means it's not compatible with inkjet and laser printers), moth-resistant, and can be broken down after 12 months of exposure to UV light.
Cost: Producing stone paper is nearly three times as expensive as producing normal paper. A 100-page A5 lined notebook with a colourful cover design costs about HK$60.
Other products: In addition to notebooks, Lung Meng has created a series of organisers, animal night lights, planters, placemats, stickers and origami paper made from stone.
A greener electrical motor
Issue: Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly practical alternative to the internal combustion engine - especially for buses, which use a lot of fuel and stop and start all the time.
But aside from the higher price, one major concern about electric buses is the distance they can go before the batteries need recharging. Because of their larger mass, electric buses have a much lower range compared to electric cars.
Solution: In collaboration with the Hong Kong Productivity Council, Green Dynamic Electric Vehicle Limited designed a motor that makes the battery more efficient to ensure the air-conditioned bus can travel more than 500 kilometres.
This is far enough to serve public bus routes, because most buses cover a distance of about 240km a day, says Green Dynamic's chief technical officer, Paul Bromley.
The motor, which uses magnetic fields and electrical currents, is 45 per cent lighter than other motors. It is also air-cooled, and requires no complex, heavy, cooling system.
Whenever the motor is reversed, it also charges itself, prolonging battery life. Charging the bus takes three hours.
Cost: The production cost of every model varies, but the model shown in the picture costs HK$3 million. This is 30 per cent more expensive than a typical bus, says Bromley.
Current status: Developed over two years, the prototype of the bus was completed just two months ago.
It has to go through a series of safety tests before it can be licensed to operate.