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Leaders in Innovation

Learn About 3 Inventions Helping Our Environment

We only have one Earth, so it’s up to all of us to protect the planet that makes our life possible. This World Environment Day, be sure to honor those who have worked hard to make our world a cleaner, healthier place through their research, persistence and innovation. Keep reading to uncover three awesome, eco-friendly inventions and the brilliant Hall of Famers behind them.


A Cool Cleanup Technology

Hall of Famer and NASA environmental engineer Jacqueline Quinn, alongside a team of researchers from the University of Central Florida, co-invented an environmentally safe cleanup technology called emulsified zero-valent iron (EZVI) in the late 1990s. EZVI was developed to combat chlorinated solvent contaminants left over from the early years of space exploration, when these solvents were used as degreasers for rocket engine parts. Heavier than water, these solvents are sources of environmental contamination as they sink into the ground and can pollute fresh water sources when left untreated.

EZVI works by placing nanoscale zero-valent iron particles into a biodegradable water-in-oil emulsion. When the emulsion is injected into contaminated groundwater, the system acts like a sponge, pulling out the contaminants. As they react with the zero-valent iron, the contaminants break down into harmless byproducts!


The Well-Known Catalytic Converter

Hall of Famer Eugene Houdry made many of our daily commutes more environmentally friendly when he invented an early catalytic converter for cleaning automobile exhaust, reducing associated health risks. Patented in 1962, the catalytic muffler reduces carbon dioxide and unburned hydrocarbons.

Still standard on American cars today, the catalytic converter has gone through several improvements since its invention. Hall of Famers Rodney D. BagleyIrwin M. Lachman and Ronald M. Lewis were on the team that created the ceramic substrate found in virtually all catalytic converters to help the automotive industry decrease pollution released into the environment and meet standards set by the 1970 U.S. Clean Air Act. Similarly, Hall of Famer Haren Gandhi advanced automotive catalyst technology to improve the quality of vehicle exhaust by converting pollutants to harmless emissions, enabling the catalytic converter to be more effective than ever!


An Efficient Water Disinfecting Device

Physicist and Hall of Famer Ashok Gadgil invented UV Waterworks, an effective, inexpensive water disinfecting device that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to kill disease-causing pathogens. Gadgil’s design proved to be so potent and cost effective, a single device could provide clean drinking water for 1,000 people for as little as $70 a year. Gadgil’s technology is used to provide clean and inexpensive drinking water to between 26 million and 29 million people throughout India and Africa.

While his many innovations have already helped over 100 million people across four continents, Gadgil continues to research ways to improve the water and energy supply of people in need at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.


Meet Inspiring Hall of Famers

We hope you’re feeling encouraged to think of ways you can make difference in your local environment and work toward a brighter future for everyone.

For even more inspiration, visit our website to learn about more innovators who are working toward a cleaner, healthier world.

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