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The wonders of ecotechnology Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ogonna Nwainya, Nigeria Jul 17, 2007
Environment , Technology   Opinions
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The fundamental myth of technology versus ecology trade-off has been over-tuned by recent scientific discoveries that tend to marry technological inputs with ecological sustainability. This wonderful harmony is best appreciated in the concept of Eco-technology. Eco-technology is an applied science that seeks the provision of human needs with minimal ecological disruption by carefully harnessing and subtly manipulating natural forces, thereby leveraging their beneficial effects. It combines a substantial understanding of the structures and processes of ecosystems in the implementation of technological inventions. In this sense, eco-technology implies the “taming of technology” by adopting ecology as its basis and ensuring an orientation of precaution in the implementation of the conservation of bio-diversity and sustainable development. It is in this sense that the wonder of eco-technology can be appreciated, especially in the following areas:

1. Management of Hazardous Wastes: Uncontrolled emitted landfill gas contributes to the greenhouse effect due to its high content of methane. Nitrogen and carbon are major constituents in leachates of landfilled waste and can pollute soil and water. Therefore both, gaseous emissions and leachate, require expensive treatment facilities. Taking this into consideration a landfill-model was developed where mechanical-biological pretreatment measures of municipal solid waste (MSW) should reach the goal of a stabilized waste deposition. Remaining methane emissions are minimized to a negligible level by microbial oxidation of methane in suitable cover layers. At last, self-adjusting biological processes together with controlled re-vegetation measures are responsible for aftercare. As this eco-technological wonder is generally practicable and economically affordable, it may especially be an option for developing countries.

2. Water Pollution Control: Thanks to eco-technology, an ecosystem-internal mechanism has been devised to minimize the effects of water pollution. The control of the internal mechanisms is achieved through the optimization of the structure of the ecosystem. This eco-technological wonder is based on the principle of reducing, as much as possible, the gap between the current (suboptimal) structural status and the optimum structure of the ecosystem through technological manipulations. The spectrum of such manipulations is very broad but a few examples can be cited here. They include: physical manipulations in stream morphology, chemical manipulations in enhancing the redox potential at the sediment-water interface and biological manipulation in enhancing stocks of predatory fishes control. It can be supposed that a new emission concept including this eco-technology wonder could be much more adequate to the demand of modern water pollution control than the traditional emission and emission concepts.

3. Agro-ecological Engineering: Agro-ecological Engineering is a newborn scientific field which came into being following the emergence of Ecological Agriculture in 1980s and Sustainable Agriculture in 1990s. Its principal focus is in the practice of sustainable development of agriculture, which demands the adaptation of the theory of ecological engineering in agricultural constructions. Thus, agro-ecological engineering is a stable and efficient eco-technological wonder, where resources are fully utilized to achieve multi-layered and multi-approached conservation of material and energy. In addition, it is a comprehensive agricultural production system in which the principle of holistic coordination of ecosystem and system engineering are applied.

4. Protection of Ozone Layer: In recent times, many industries have developed a new cooling system for refrigerators using a hydrocarbon refrigerant (R600a), which does not deplete the ozone layer and has minimal negative impact on global warming. Building on the earlier technological advances that produced a CFC-free compressor for the European market, a Japanese company launched a new refrigerator in the domestic market in February 2002. This refrigerator incorporates innovative technology that allows for completely CFC-free refrigeration even in the humid climate of Japan. This is an amazing eco-technological break-through.

5. Recycling End-of-Life Products: In the modern world, eco-technological outfits are dedicated to discovering more environment-friendly practices. A typical example of this is found in Japan where Matsushita Eco-technology Center is actively committed to the further research and development of easy-to-recycle products. As matter of fact, since the enactment in April 2001, of new legislation regarding the recycling of major home appliances in Japan, Matsushita has processed a total of 565,000 relevant home appliances, comprising air conditioners, TVs, refrigerators and washing machines.

6. Development of Energy-Efficient Products: Eco-technology remains committed to the development of energy-efficient products. For instance, some eco-technology based industries have developed a semiconductor called the Intelligent Power Device (IPD). This device is capable of reducing standby power consumption by 81%, compared with that of previous non-ecotechnological models. In Japan, for instance Matsushita has launched a new refrigerator with a triple-cooling system that incorporates twin-valve technology, thereby reducing power consumption to less than one-fourth that of Matsushita models of 10 years ago. The combined eco-technological wonders of the IPD and the new refrigerator were given, the 2001 Economy, Trade and Industry Minister’s Award by the Energy Conservation Center of Japan.

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Writer Profile
Ogonna Nwainya

Ogonna Hilary Nwainya is a young philosopher, information technologist, editor, educator and development activist. He has a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and Higher Diploma in Mass Communication. He has other Certificates and Diplomas in Linguistics and Computer Application Science. His primary interest is in International Affairs, Youth and Sustainable Development.
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