June 24, 2019
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    Scientists from round the world are meeting in Germany to improve ways of making money from carbon dioxide. They want to transform some of the CO2 that’s overheating the planet into products to benefit humanity.They don’t claim the technology will solve climate change, but they say it will help.

    Carbon dioxide is already being used in novel ways to create fuels, polymers, fertilisers, proteins, foams and building blocks.Until recently, it was assumed that energy-intensive firms burning gas to fuel their processes would need eventually to capture the resulting carbon emissions and bury them underground.

    This option is inefficient and costly, so the prospect of utilising some of the CO2 as a valuable raw material is exciting for business. Katy Armstrong, manager of the Carbon Utilisation Centre at Sheffield University, put it this way: “We need products for the way we live - and everything we do has an impact.

    “We need to manufacture our products without increasing CO2 emissions, and if we can use waste CO2 to help make them, so much the better.”

    Many of the young carbon usage firms are actually carbon-negative: that means they take in more CO2 than they put out.

    We visited three pioneering businesses in the UK which are already making money out of CO2.

    Here are their recipes for success (or at least, the ones they will share with us).

    Three success stories
    CO2 to fertiliser: CCm Technologies, Swindon

    Image caption
    Fertiliser plants like this one using CO2 in Swindon can help solve the problem
    Recipe: Put cow dung and maize into a bio-digester, where bacteria break them down and produce biogas to heat our homes.

    Mix the left-over sludge with nutrient-rich wastes from the fertiliser industry, sewage plants, farms or the food industry.

    Pump in CO2, which helps the nutrients bind to the sludge.

    Product: High-grade fertiliser pellets that have soaked up more CO2 than they produced. The technology has already won export orders.

    CO2 to beer bubbles: Strutt and Parker Farms, Suffolk

    Image caption
    Can this beauty put the fizz in your lemonade?
    Recipe: Take horse muck and straw from Newmarket races. Put the smelly mess through a bio-digester (as above).

    Extract biogas and CO2. Using advanced membranes, separate out food grade CO2.

    Product: Clean CO2 that’s sold to a local brewery to put the fizz into lemonade and lager.

    CO2 to building blocks: Carbon 8 Aggregates, Leeds

    Image caption
    Bio-digester processing horse manure in Suffolk
    Recipe: Take ash from the chimney of a waste incinerator plant.

    Mix in water and CO2 - then stand back… this procedure gets very hot.

    The CO2 is permanently captured within the waste ash to form artificial limestone for building blocks and other purposes.

    The process has the additional benefit of treating the ash that would otherwise be sent to landfill.

    Product: blocks that have locked up CO2, whilst also reducing the need for carbon-intensive cement. The technology is winning exports.

    These firms are pioneers in what’s known as the Circular Economy, in which wastes are turned into raw materials. The EU is trying to prompt all industry to adopt this principle.

    How much CO2 can products absorb?
    The big question is how much of the approximately 37 gigatonnes of CO2 emitted annually from our homes, cars, planes, offices and industries can be utilised by industry.

    One report projected that seven gigatonnes a year of CO2 could be locked up into new products.

    Katy Armstrong described this figure as hugely optimistic. But she said: “Every tonne that’s captured is a tonne that doesn't heat the atmosphere, so let’s hope the industry thrives.”

    From 2015, under the guidance of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, the Health Ministry took steps to provide quality intraocular lenses, coronary stents, and cochlear and prosthetic implants free for all patients who seek medical treatment from state hospitals.

    This initiative made Sri Lanka’s free health service meaningful as it was not free in the past. It was proposed to obtain Rs. 10.5 billion from the budget to purchase coronary stents and eye lenses. Meanwhile, the Ophthalmologists College of Sri Lanka has agreed to continue cataract surgeries at state hospitals after normal government working hours (8.00 am to 4.30 pm).

    Ophthalmologists agreed to continue surgeries responding to a request made by Health Minister Senaratne during a recent meeting. This new measure will cut down the long waiting list that exists for cataract surgeries in the state sector.

    It is estimated that around 1.2 million patients suffer from some sort of eye issue in Sri Lanka.

    Eye lenses required for patients who obtain treatment from state hospitals are imported from the US and provided free.

    According to Minister Senaratne, 95 percent of consultant eye surgeons supported the programme which provided free lenses for patients who seek treatment from state hospitals.

    The Minister said that a survey conducted by the Health Ministry in 2014 found out that one million people suffer from some sort of eye problem.

    Insertion of coronary stents

    Now, surgeries are performed round the clock at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) to insert coronary stents (catheterisation) for patients who suffer from heart disease.

    A five-member committee headed by Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe has been appointed by the Health Minister to purchase drugs and stents required for catheterisation according to a new system. The committee report will be handed over to the Minister in two weeks. These details were disclosed during a meeting held at the Health Ministry.

    In January, 591 heart surgeries were performed at the NHSL during the day and 224 at night. In February, 549 day surgeries and 230 night surgeries were performed. In March, 545 day surgeries and 186 night surgeries were performed. Minister Senaratne made a request to the NHSL to continue night surgeries in order to offer a better service to heart patients on the waiting list.

    The cardiologist attached to the Kalmunai Ashraff Memorial Hospital informed the Health Minister that in the last year, no heart patient died after the steps were taken by the Health Ministry to treat heart patients swiftly.

    Cardiologists informed that earlier, around five to six heart patients died daily, but now (after providing the injection, drugs, medical equipment and human resources), only about one heart patient dies daily.

    The Health Minister took steps to reduce the high prices of coronary stents.

    The prices of normal and medicated stents were reduced by Rs. 51,000 and Rs. 245,000 respectively. In addition, the special injection, Tenecteplase has been provided to state hospitals to save the lives of heart patients who come to hospitals within two hours from the time of the heart attack.

    Heart surgeries are performed round the clock and monthly about 450 to 500 heart surgeries are performed in state hospitals. Now, more and more heart patients seek treatment from state hospitals due to the availability of free stents, other modern medical equipment and drugs.

    The gazette notification on reducing the prices of coronary stents was issued under the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Act Number 05 of 2015.

    After the price reductions, the maximum retail price of a bare-metal stent and a drug-eluting stent came down to Rs. 24,000 and Rs. 105,000, respectively. A bare-metal stent, for instance, was Rs. 75,000 earlier. Now, patients can save Rs. 51,000. The prices of stents were reduced by Rs. 195,000 from Rs. 300,000 to Rs. 105,000.

    Cochlear implant surgery

    Sri Lanka is one of the very few countries in the world that carries out millions of rupees worth of cochlear implant surgeries free. The less the degree of disability among the population, the higher the productivity of the country.

    It is not worth if we have to pay for certain health services obtained from the state sector. Then we cannot consider it as a free health service. But now people do not need to suffer in silence without money to purchase lenses and stents as they can walk into any major state hospital and walk out with healthy eyes and hearts.

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    An intraocular lens (IOL) is a lensimplanted in the eye as part of a treatment for cataracts or myopia. The most common type of IOL is the pseudophakic IOL. These are implanted during cataract surgery, after the cloudy eye’s natural lens (colloquially called a cataract) has been removed. The pseudophakic IOL provides the same light focusing function as the natural crystalline lens. The second type of IOL, more commonly known as a phakic intraocular lens (PIOL), is a lens which is placed over the existing natural lens and is used in refractive surgery to change the eye’s optical power as a treatment for myopia (nearsightedness). IOLs usually consist of a small plastic lens with plastic side struts, called haptics, to hold the lens in place in the capsular bag inside the eye. IOLs were conventionally made of an inflexible material (PMMA), although this has largely been superseded by the use of flexible materials. Most IOLs fitted today are fixed monofocal lenses matched to distance vision. However, other types are available, such as multifocal IOLs that provide the patient with multiple-focused vision at far and reading distance, and adaptive IOLs that provide the patient with limited visual accommodation.

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    A coronary stent is a tube-shaped device placed in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, to keep the arteries open in the treatment of coronary heart disease. It is used in a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Coronary stents are now used in more than 90 percent of PCI procedures. Stents reduce angina (chest pain) and have been shown to improve survival and decrease adverse events in an acute myocardial infarction. Similar stents and procedures are used in non-coronary vessels (e.g., in the legs in peripheral artery disease).

     

    The recovery of Sri Lankan Tourism is now well intensified by the promotional activities undertaken by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, as well as due to travel incentive packages being announced by the industry itself.
    In addition to this, Sri Lankan government has taken all the necessary measures to ensure the security of tourists as well as the hotels across the country, following the tragic Easter Sunday incident, John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs told the inaugural session of the 9th edition of ‘Sancharaka Udawa’.

    Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the Japanese Prime Minister’s Special Advisor, reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to develop the East Container Terminal of the Colombo South Harbour as a joint venture partnership of Sri Lanka and India, at a meeting he had with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe met Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the Japanese Prime Minister’s Special Advisor, Akira Sugiyama, Ambassador of Japan and his team at Temple Trees. “We made great progress on Japan- Sri Lanka economic cooperation,” the Prime Minister said.

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