Thursday, April 12, 2012

patentECO - The Count on Ecofriendly Inventions

Earth Rise from Apollo 8

How Many Environmentally/Ecologically Friendly Inventions?

The title of my last post started with the phrase “environmentally friendly.” How many patents have issued in the past five years (2007-2011) that are environmentally or ecologically friendly?
Searching for the words ‘environmentally’ or ‘ecologically’ and ‘friendly’ in either patent titles or abstracts in Way Better Patents patentECO Indexes for the years 2007-2011 returns 234 utility patents. A utility patent covers inventions for a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement of any of them. Here are the earliest patents and issue year with the following words in either the title (T) or abstract (A):
3,855,698 Ecology Nail-Clip Reservoir Device, 1974 (T)
3,693,464 Reciprocating-Rotary Motion Conversion Device, 1972 (A)
3,420,739 Closed Ecological System for the Support of Animal Life and the Method Thereof, 1969 (T)
3,672,579 Process for Beneficiating Magnetite Iron Ore, 1970 (A)
3,752,109 Ecologically Controlled Ship’s Hull Reconditioner, 1973 (T)
3,662,695 Roofing Factory Fume and Solid Waste, 1972 (A)
1,747,804 Method of Producing a Balanced Environment for Fish Life, 1930 (T)
3,579,907 Automated Controlled Environment for Continuous Production of Plant Life, 1971 (A)
3,077,053 Environmental Planter (T), 1963
3,558,865 Weapons Effect Display System, 1971 (A)
3,676,401 Environmentally Disintegratable Plastics Compositions Comprising Copolymers of Ethylene and Carbon Monoxide and a Degradation Accelerator, 1972 (T)
3,668,087 Brine Dechlorination, 1972 (A)
I should note that the word ‘environment’ and its stems (-al, -ally) may not pertain to the earth’s ecosystem as we mean in these posts. These terms are often used to describe the physical, chemical, thermal, or electrical conditions or boundaries of, for example, computer, software, or logic chip operations, manufacturing processes, and spacecraft operations.
The following list of historical events may have had some influence over the patents and their issue dates as listed above:
  • September, 1963. President Kennedy conducted a five-day, eleven-state conservation tour, at the instigation of Senator Gaylord Nelson, a subsequent founder of Earth Day.
  • December 24, 1968. Iconic Earthrise photo over the limb of the Moon taken by Apollo 8 astronauts.
  • January-February, 1969. Santa Barbara oil spill.
  • January 1, 1970. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is effective.
  • March 21, 1970. The first Earth Day was observed.
  • December 2, 1970. The Environmental Protection Agency begins operation.
In subsequent posts, we’ll cover recent representative environmentally friendly patents from the patentECO Indexes.