Meet the companies tackling nine of humanity's biggest problems -- and making millions saving us from ourselves.
Problem #9: Waste Disposal
Problem #9: Waste Disposal
The background: The United States alone annually produces 1.4 billion tons of waste, and most winds up in landfills. Not everything can be recycled and incinerators emit dioxins and toxic ash.

The solution: Montreal-based PyroGenesis has refined a process, called plasma arc gasification, in which solid waste is fed into a furnace. There, extreme electrical charges break it down into three marketable byproducts: a gas that can be converted into steam or electricity; metal ingots that can be resold; and a glassy solid that can be processed into material for floor tiles or gravel.

The payoff: Carnival Cruises uses a PyroGenesis system to shrink tons of cabin waste into a few pounds of harmless sand. The U.S. Navy has hired PyroGenesis to develop plasma waste systems for new industrial aircraft carriers.

The opportunity: An estimated $40 billion is spent annually to transport, incinerate, recycle, and store waste in the United States alone. Most industry experts say the technology is still several years away from widespread commercial use. Dozens of early-stage startups, meanwhile, are developing related products in niche markets for medical and other hazardous wastes.

Global Warming

Oil Dependency

Hunger and Malnutrition

Dirty Air

Dirty Water

Overfishing

Epidemics

Drug-Resistant Infections

Waste Disposal
8 technologies to save the world These futuristic projects promise to make the world greener, while making entrepreneurs some green. (more)
Blog: Can tech save the planet? Are green entrepreneurs the answer to our problems? Tell us what you think by posting a comment on the Green Wombat blog. (more)
101 Dumbest Moments in Business Business 2.0 Magazine's 7th annual look at the year in bungled layoffs, customer-service snafus, executive follies, and other madness. See all 101. (more)
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.