Growth in cleantech industry driven by demand for sustainable products and services

Published date23 June 2022
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
Cleantech, short for clean technology, broadly refers to companies that aim to improve environmental sustainability. Over time, it has widened to include those offering green technology, renewable energy, recycling methods and so on

It spans a range of industries and processes, from manufacturing and construction to agri-food and smart cities, and has become integral to the future where emissions must be lowered if we are to meet our emissions targets.

And it's not just about ticking boxes to keep officials happy; consumers are also demanding more environmentally conscious services.

An exact figure for the size of the industry is difficult to gauge, given its wide reach and the breadth of activity. But the area has been earmarked as a potential growth area for Irish companies. Last year, Enterprise Ireland-backed companies classed by the organisation as "cleantech" saw a 9 per cent increase in jobs over the year.

On the island of Ireland, there have been some interesting developments in cleantech. Earlier this week, plans were published for the Galway Hydrogen Hub (GH2), a project that would create Ireland's first hydrogen valley — a regional ecosystem that links hydrogen research, production, distribution and transportation with end users such as transport and industry.

Belfast-based Catagen, meanwhile, was recently awarded two lots of funding by the UK government to help further its research into new net-zero technologies, with one award for the development of high-pressure hybrid pumping for hydrogen storage and dispensing, and the second for the development of an e-fuel as a replacement for red diesel.

The idea of capturing carbon emissions from the air and sequestering them may be a long way off from solving our environmental problems. But there are companies working on preventing those emissions from ever getting into the atmosphere.

MOF Technologies has come up with something it says will do just that. The Queen's University Belfast spin-out works with a class of nanomaterials known as metal organic frameworks (MOFs) — crystalline, sponge-like materials that are highly porous and can store, separate and capture specific gases.

"The beauty of these materials is that you're able to design the chemistry within them. You effectively have this autonomy to change the building blocks of the material, almost like Lego. You can pick different metals, different organics and you can combine them together to create this very, very porous material, which is...

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