Bacteria may be some of the oldest organisms in the evolutionary tree, but, as Horizon discovers this month, they are inspiring new technologies, from turning sunlight into car fuel to creating building blocks that can repair themselves when cracked. We also hear from scientists using these single-celled organisms to heat our homes, and others who are using them to help trees clean up contaminated soil.
Inserting bacteria into bricks and concrete could help generate heat, circulate air and repair cracks, according to researchers who are designing innovative construction materials to transform bricks and mortar into living buildings with a reduced environmental footprint.
Scientists have found a way of producing electricity and fuel for cars from bacteria and green algae, and scaling up these techniques could create a reliable source of renewable energy that could be used as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Europe has set a course for a low-carbon economy, but what does this mean in practice? This month, Horizon looks at the carbon-free innovations set to change our lives, from neighbourhoods that can produce more energy than they consume, to Europe's renewable energy cooperatives. We also explore new technologies to minimise the risk of nuclear meltdown, and find out how a tie-up between researchers in the EU and North Africa could help bring renewable energy innovations to the Mediterranean region.
It's been 15 years since the euro came into circulation and to mark the occasion Horizon is looking at what the future could have in store for finance. We talk to one economist who says the way to avoid another crisis is to keep banks small and boring, and we explore the effect of alternative local currencies on supporting small businesses. We also delve into some of the technology that could enable us to move to a cashless society, and we look at the growth of the so-called sharing economy, in which people share access to resources.
It looks like a standard radar screen, but the technology behind the red flashing dots that alert the crew of an ocean tanker to the presence of pirates is highly sophisticated.
High-tech algorithms alert crews to potential hijackers.
Coordinating fleets will reduce duplication and inefficiency.
An experimental project could lead to a renewable energy market connecting the EU and North Africa.