saving planet saving planet From genetically-altered bacteria to animal-less meat, inventors are coming up with some pretty fascinating things. (Photo: janews / Shutterstock)

5 of this year's most creative planet-saving breakthroughs

These ingenious ideas will give you hope for the future.

The planet may be in trouble, but entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate. Creative people around the world are coming up with amazing ways to make human life on Earth more efficient and sustainable. Here are some of our favorite planet-saving breakthroughs that we wrote about in 2016.

Turning greenhouse gases into fuel

A new startup is partnering with steel companies, electric companies and manufacturing plants.A new startup is partnering with steel companies, electric companies and manufacturing plants. (Photo: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock)

It may sound too good to be true, but CO2Fuels, an Israel-based startup, has found a way to collect carbon dioxide and transform it into energy.

"It’s a very large opportunity that isn’t just a business opportunity but can serve the larger needs of climate change," CO2Fuels CEO and founder David Banitt told From the Grapevine.

By combining carbon dioxide with water, the company has found a way to turn it into gasoline, diesel, plastic and fertilizer. The waste product? Oxygen.

"It’s a real breakthrough," explained Banitt. "And the market is tremendous."


Finding water leaks from space

The World Bank estimates that 8.6 trillion gallons of drinking water are lost each year because of leaks.The World Bank estimates that 8.6 trillion gallons of drinking water are lost each year because of leaks. (Photo: DreamLand Media/Shutterstock)

With water shortages breaking out around the world, fixing leaky pipes has taken on a new urgency. In the United States, one-sixth of our water gets lost to leakages, and many countries have even worse ratios. Israeli startup Utilis is trying to fix that. The company is using satellites that can detect water leaks easily and cheaply, even when they're happening underground.

“Drinking water has a very unique spectral signature, due to the fact it is treated in a certain way. We look only for water that carries this signature,” Utilis co-founder Lauren Guy told From the Grapevine.


Making bacteria that eats plastic

Did you know plastic can only be recycled once?Did you know plastic can only be recycled once? (Photo: Mohamed Abdulraheem/Shutterstock)

Eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean each year. Luckily, a team of students from Israel's Ben-Gurion University may have found a solution. They're genetically engineering bacteria found in soil, allowing the bacteria to metabolize plastic.

The team has been presenting its research at competitions around the world, launching public outreach campaigns and even inventing computer games to spread the word.


Making a powder that keeps veggies good longer

So many fruits and vegetables rot and end up going to waste. But a 20-year-old Israeli student figured out a way to make them last three times as long. Amit Gal-Or came up with "food protectors" that keep bacteria and fungi away from fruits and veggies. They use a safe, organic powder that industry has known about for a while.

"It was obvious that this had high potential for uses at home," Gal-Or told From The Grapevine. "The larger vision is to reduce food waste and do it in an organic way. Twenty-five percent of food waste actually occurs at homes. I believe that if the individuals are able to become aware of the situation and actually lead a life that is sustainable, that they can influence the larger institutions."


Growing real meat without animals

Yaakov NahmaisProf. Yaakov Nahmais, the company’s head of research, has published over 50 papers in prestigious journals. (Photo: Courtesy of SuperMeat)

Forty-five percent of the Earth’s land and 55 percent of water in the United States is being used for animal agriculture. That's a big cost for both people and the planet.

That's why Supermeat, an Israeli startup, is working on something that sci-fi writers have been thinking about for a long time: growing meat in laboratories without animals. The company has brought on Yaakov Nahmais, a prize-winning scientist from Jerusalem's Hebrew University, to "grow" meat from animal muscle cells inside a device that works like a womb.

"It’s all about mimicking the natural body of the animal," Supermeat's Ronen Bar told From the Grapevine. "It’s like planting a seed in the right soil. You just need to water it."

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