Technologies to watch out for in the coming year

Solar geoengineering

The dust and ash that volcanoes release into the upper atmosphere has a cooling effect: the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines cooled the Earth by 0.5 °C for several years.

Solar geoengineering, also known as solar radiation control, could theoretically do the same thing. In 2022, a group of scientists from Harvard expect to conduct an experiment called SCoPEx.

They will launch a balloon into the stratosphere that drops 2 kilograms of unnamed material and then measure how it reacts to and dissipates solar energy.

Heat pumps

Keeping buildings warm in winter accounts for about a quarter of the world’s energy consumption. It usually depends on burning coal, gas or oil. The most promising alternative is the use of heat pumps. An example of such a device is a refrigerator.

When heated, a heat pump works like a refrigerator, but in the opposite direction: taking heat from the colder ambient air and releasing it in the heated room.

Hydrogen-powered airplanes

In 2022, a two-seat plane with hydrogen fuel cells is to be tested and is being built at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Direct capture of CO2 from the atmosphere

In 2022, Carbon Engineering of Canada will begin building the world’s largest direct air capture (DAC) facility in Texas. It will be able to capture up to 1 million tons of CO2 per year.

Switzerland’s ClimeWorks opened DAC production in Iceland in 2021, and the US company Global Thermostat also has two pilot plants.

VR training

VR training became popular during the pandemic, when fitness clubs were closed and at the same time the inexpensive Oculus Quest 2 headset hit the market. Its updated model will be released in 2022.

In Europe, Supernatural, a virtual reality training app that is currently only available in North America, may be released in the meantime.

HIV and malaria vaccines

Moderna is working on an HIV vaccine based on the same mRNA technology used in the Covid-19 vaccine. It is already in the early stages of clinical trials, with the first results expected in 2022.

BioNTech is working on an mRNA vaccine for malaria, with clinical trials scheduled to begin in 2022. Scientists from Oxford are also working on HIV and malaria vaccines.

3D printing of bone implants

Startups Particle3D and A.D.A.M. expect to have 3D-printed bones suitable for human implants in 2022. Both companies use calcium-based minerals for printing, and the implants are custom-made based on patients’ CT scans.

Airtaxi

Several companies will test vertical takeoff and landing electric airplanes in 2022 to certify the transport for commercial use.

California-based Joby Aviation wants to build more than ten five-seat air cabs with a range of about 240 km. Volocopter of Germany plans to launch an air cab at the 2024 Olympics. Other development startups include eHang, Lilium and Vertical Aerospace.

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