Top 10 eco-friendly technology breakthroughs in 2023

2023 witnessed the innovations and upturns of some of the most transformative and life-changing technologies
An illustration of augmented reality technology and smart city.
An illustration of augmented reality technology and smart city.

The year 2023 witnessed the innovations and upturns of some of the most transformative and life-changing technologies, aimed at improving the way we humans deal with the nominal chores of our routine lives.

Despite all of these advancements, a major area that remains unaddressed in the void is the environmental imprint that’s working as a catalyst further to worsen the already deteriorated state of our climate.

With countless tech innovations stamping the calendar of 2023, only a few manufacturers, countable on our fingertips, seem to have paid heed to the colossal damage inflicted on our ecosystem by the mounting heap of carbon emissions.

As the year 2023 has come to its tail, Gadinsider has combined some of the best sustainable technologies that led to the road to net-zero carbon emissions.

Considering the fair share that each sector holds in bringing the climate to the brink of collapse and irreparable damage, we’ve gathered tech innovations that cater to the segments spanning from trivial home appliances to the machines powering electric helicopters.

Eco-friendly technology breakthroughs 

eVTOL — A driving and flying vehicle

The image shows an eVTOL vehicle parked on a runway. — Askafly
The image shows an eVTOL vehicle parked on a runway. — Askafly

An American startup Aska has introduced the A5, an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle designed for both driving and flying. Resembling a helicopter, this four-seat vehicle features tandem wings that can be folded for drive mode, making it the size of an SUV.

The hybrid-electric propulsion system, utilising lithium-ion batteries and a gas engine for extended range, provides a flight range of 250 miles with a 30-minute reserve. In drive mode, the A5 is powered by in-wheel motors, while six propellers on the wings enable vertical lift and thrust. This technology holds great promise for airborne services, including the potential use of an air ambulance to urgently transport patients.

This innovation in the transportation sector minimises carbon emissions, providing a sustainable alternative for urban mobility, and subsequently contributing to a greener ecosystem.

ExactShot — Tractor

The image shows the ExactShot tractor. — JohnDeere
The image shows the ExactShot tractor. — JohnDeere

John Deere, an American manufacturer of agricultural machinery, reaffirms its commitment to environment consciousness with the introduction of two innovative technologies aimed at enhancing productivity and sustainability in the farming and construction sectors.

One such advancement is the ExactShot technology, a groundbreaking solution enabling farmers to reduce fertiliser usage during planting by up to 60%. Using sensors and robotics, the technology precisely determines when each seed is placed in the soil.

Expected to save more than 93 million gallons of fertilisers annually, ExactShot minimises waste and aids farmers in boosting production to meet the demands of a growing global population.

In addition to agricultural innovations, the company also introduced an electric excavator for the construction industry, further contributing to sustainable practices in the industry.

The excavator is powered by Kreisel batteries, benefiting from Kreisel's charging technology that delivers smoother and cheaper grid connections. Not only does it enhance reliability, performance, and safety for construction workers, but it also contributes to a reduction in noise and air pollution.

C-8 — Electric speedboat

The image shows a C-8 electric speedboat. — Candela
The image shows a C-8 electric speedboat. — Candela

The C-8 electric hydrofoil speedboat offers eco-friendly maritime transport with noise-free and emission-free rides at 20 knots, standing out as an innovation for sustainable boating.

Developed by a Swedish-based tech startup Candela, the C-8 electric-powered hydrofoil speedboat epitomises eco-friendly maritime transport. With a cutting-edge foiling system, it minimises water resistance and ensures a silent, emission-free ride. The electric propulsion is powered by renewable energy and eliminates carbon emissions to promote sustainability.

Priced at approximately $400,000, the high-end, fully electric boat can deliver up to 20 knots speeds — approx 23mph — an exhilarating yet environmentally responsible boating experience.

Its advanced technology not only delivers a smooth and efficient ride but also exemplifies how innovation can enhance performance while prioritising the health of our planet.

Lumo — Wireless, internet-connected smart valve

The image shows a Lumo smart valve. — Lumo
The image shows a Lumo smart valve. — Lumo

Lumo, an agricultural technology (AgTech) firm, introduced an intelligent irrigation solution, the Lumo smart valve.

Designed to assist farmers in conserving water, cutting expenses, and enhancing crop quality, the Lumo Smart Valve addresses the pressing issue of water shortage. The Lumo smart valve stands out as the initial wireless, internet-connected valve with an integrated controller alongside as well as flow and pressure sensors.

This unique feature empowers growers with unprecedented control and insight into the well-being of their irrigation systems, marking a significant advancement in the future of agriculture.

EcoFlow GLACIER — Portable refrigerator

The image shows an EcoFlow Glacier portable refrigerator. — Ecoflow
The image shows an EcoFlow Glacier portable refrigerator. — Ecoflow

EcoFlow GLACIER portable refrigerator is a product of the environmental consciousness of EcoFlow, a tech firm based in San Francisco, US. Its energy-efficient design runs on renewable power sources, reducing environmental impact. The refrigerator offers both cooling and freezing functions, bringing adaptability to various applications. Promoting sustainable refrigeration without compromising efficiency, its contribution to reducing the environmental impact is acknowledged by TIME magazine.

Winning the TIME Best Inventions 2023 Award reinforces EcoFlow's standing in green tech. Moreover, the refrigerator has also earned the CES 2023 Innovation Awards Honoree and the 2023 Good Design Award. These recognitions validate EcoFlow's commitment to innovate while considering the sustainability of the planet.

Harvest Pod — Electric heating system

The image shows a Harvest Pod battery. — Harvestthermal
The image shows a Harvest Pod battery. — Harvestthermal

Harvest Thermal, a California-based company, has developed an innovative fully-electric thermal battery system to reduce fossil fuel heating inside homes. The Harvest Pod employs air-source heat pumps to bring warm air for heating water in a storage tank.

The Harvest Pod optimises energy costs by ensuring water heating during periods of lower electricity costs. This technology enhances efficiency. Replacing conventional gas furnaces and water heaters, the system cuts a building's carbon emissions by up to 90%. The smart technology can also be integrated with existing HVAC systems.

Clean Earth Magnet 

The image shows a rare earth magnet. — Unsplash
The image shows a rare earth magnet. — Unsplash

Another tech innovation of the year we came across that made its way into TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2023 is the formation of magnets from rare earth material. 

Niron Magnetics has created a powerful magnet called the Clean Earth Magnet that doesn't use rare earth elements. This magnet is composed of easily recyclable materials, iron and nitrogen.

Not only do they perform better than rare-earth magnets by up to 50%, but they also have a 75% less environmental impact. Moreover, they possess the durability to stay strong in various temperatures.

SolarGlass — Glass-based solar panel

The image shows a Solar Glass. — Solarmagazine
The image shows a Solar Glass. — Solarmagazine

Solar glass transforms windows into energy sources for homes, buildings, or skyscrapers by capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity.

This glass technology promises to turn the windows of a house, building, skyscraper, or any kind of accommodation space with glass windows into an energy source.

This transparent window material captures sunlight and converts it into electricity. The only challenge it’s been confronting is maintaining efficiency while ensuring transparency.

To sort this predicament out, a group of enthusiasts from the University of Michigan is addressing this by creating solar glass with 15% efficiency and a 50% light pass-through. Estimations by industry experts revealed that a huge usable window space in the US, around 5 to 7 billion square meters, could easily power 40% of the energy needs of the US with this innovative solar glass.

Floatovoltaics, Photovoltaics, and Solar Skin — Solar panel innovations

The image shows solar panels. — Unsplash
The image shows solar panels. — Unsplash

Floatovoltaics allows solar panels to float on water. This advancement addresses concerns about marine life impact and cable management by creating cost-effective and multipurpose energy spaces.

Another innovation in this area is photovoltaics, which merges solar panels into building design for cost savings and potential thermal insulation.

The third innovation that gained significant ground in this area was Solar Skin, a cosmetic improvement which enables aesthetics without digging the road to a green future. These innovations can make solar energy more adaptable and affordable.

Green electrolysers — Electrolysers for eco-friendly hydrogen production

The image shows green hydrogen tanks. — Unsplash
The image shows green hydrogen tanks. — Unsplash

These hydrogen electrolysers harness renewable energy for sustainable green hydrogen production, separating hydrogen and oxygen from water using wind turbines and renewables.

This recently developed green technology employs offshore electrolysers, powered by wind turbines and renewables, and holds the potential to transform the landscape of hydrogen production.

The availability of onshore and offshore green hydrogen electrolysers marks a significant advancement in hydrogen production.

In the present times, most hydrogen produced through fossil fuels is grey, while blue hydrogen made from the CCS (Carbon, Capture, and Storage) process is more environmentally friendly, and at last "green" hydrogen is the most sustainable, generated using renewable energy.

The green hydrogen is produced from electrolysers that separate hydrogen and oxygen from water.