A member of IsraAid helping out local residents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy of IsraAID.
50. Water is such a precious resource in Israel that engineers and innovators have developed a slew of technologies to make sure every drop counts. Israel is a world leader in reusing its wastewater, with some 70 percent recycled and funneled into agriculture projects. That technology is being sought out abroad as countries elsewhere try to reduce water consumption.
Large companies such as the Tahal Group offer low-tech and high-tech software solutions to make wastewater treatment processes more efficient and relevant. Aqwise makes small plastic beads to aerate wastewater so bacteria can work better, a solution now being used at the Taj Mahal in India. Another Israeli company sparking interest worldwide is Applied Clean Tech, whose product removes solids from wastewater.
51. BrightSource might look all-American, but one of the world’s largest solar thermal power plants, about to fire up its 370-megawatt Ivanpah facility in the Mojave Desert in California this summer, is built on Israeli expertise started in the 1980s by a company called Luz. The technology which sprawls over 35,000 acres, uses thousands of software-controlled mirrors to direct sun to three collection towers that power a turbine.
Since utilities companies in California need to deliver one-third of their power from renewables by 2020, BrightSource has placed its bets to be part of an even larger solar energy installation to go live by 2016.
Based in Oakland with R&D in Israel, BrightSource is partnering with the Spanish company Abengoa Solar to build and operate a new solar 500-megawatt installation in Riverside County, California. The company is in the final stages of securing a contract in Israel, and is also seeking opportunities in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and China.
52. Israeli volunteer organization Yad Sarah, which lends medical equipment to people throughout Israel, is serving as a model for countries like Turkey, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Angola, Cameroon, China, El Salvador and Hungary. The NGO has become the world’s largest lender of medical devices such as respirators, crutches, oxygen tanks, wheelchairs and hospital beds, and is a recognized UNESCO advisory body. With more than 100 branches across Israel, Yad Sarah offers free rehabilitation centers, meals on wheels, free home repairs, legal aid for the elderly and other services.
53. The Mediterranean’s two remaining species of sea turtles are in danger of extinction, but an Israeli organization is hoping to reverse the trend. Part hospital and part stud farm, the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center at Michmoret treats injured turtles, incubates eggs and increases awareness of the turtles’ plight.
A century ago, some 2,000 to 3,000 green and loggerhead turtles used to nest along Israel’s shores. Now the numbers are estimated at 180 loggerheads and fewer than 30 green turtles. Thanks to the work of the rescue center, the number of loggerhead turtles is now rising.
54. Hebrew University’s Prof. David Levy has developed new strains of potatoes that thrive in hot, dry climates, and can be irrigated by saltwater. Potatoes are one of the top sources of nutrition in the world, but they never before grew well in hot, desert regions like the Middle East. Now farmers in these regions can grow potatoes as a cash crop.
55. Israeli neonatologists have established two new neonatal units in Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana. The city has a population of 1.5 million people, but only one hospital. Of the 28,000 babies born in the city every year, some 4,800 died. Israeli specialists are now training local doctors and nurses to help save infants’ lives.
56. In October 2011, despite a severe diplomatic crisis in the wake of the deadly Gaza flotilla raid over a year earlier, Israel sent a package of aid to Turkey after a massive 7.2 magnitude quake hit the country’s eastern region. Israel was the first country in the world to offer Ankara assistance in the aftermath of the disaster. It sent portable buildings to help homeless survivors in the quake-ravaged area.
Israel has sent rescue teams to Turkey before. In 1999, Israeli rescue teams pulled 12 people out of earthquake rubble and recovered 140 bodies. Israel also set up a field hospital and treated more than 1,000 victims.
57. The United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) awarded Israel’s non-profit disabilities organization Beit Issie Shapiro special consultative status in 2012, allowing it to share research and solutions more widely, and to assist ECOSOC in formulating recommendations to the UN and member states concerning policy for people with disabilities. Hydrotherapy, ground-breaking multisensory rooms and inclusive playgrounds are among the special-needs services implemented by the 32-year-old organization.
58. Asian countries have turned to Israel for help as they look to increase domestic milk production and consumption. Israel set up a demonstration dairy farm near Beijing to show Israeli dairy farming technology. The site became a training center for thousands of dairy farmers in China and from neighboring countries.
China and Vietnam have awarded huge contracts to kibbutz-based company SAE Afikim, whose AfiMilk and AfiFarm computerized systems for modern dairy farm and herd management are globally recognized for their technology and efficiency. Afikim sends personnel to build dairy farms and teaches local workers how to run them, and in cooperation with the Israeli government hosts Asian workers for intensive training in Israel.
59. Israeli start up GlobeLight & Water System is helping keep roads safer in Africa and South America with solar-powered light fixtures. The theft-proof product highlights blue-and-white ingenuity with its built-in microprocessor that monitors and regulates bulb temperature and battery charge.
The environmentally friendly light fixtures do not rely on electricity infrastructures, need maintenance once every three years, and can be used in any climate.
60. The United Nations turned to an Israeli company to help purify water for Syrians suffering water contamination during the country’s current violent conflict. Medentech, Israel Chemicals’ Ireland-based subsidiary, produces AquaTabs, the world’s best-selling effervescent tablets, which are considered a better alternative to boiling water to remove contaminants. The Israeli government blessed the deal despite a law nixing trade with an enemy state.
61. IsraAid has launched a social-worker training program in the new African state of South Sudan, considered one of the most undeveloped in the world, in cooperation with Israeli NGOs FIRST and Operation Blessing-Israel.
Three Israeli experts on sexual violence flew to Juba to train 30 South Sudanese social workers with the tools to identify and address gender-based violence, such as rape and forced marriage. Violence against women is considered one of the biggest challenges in the region.
62. Faced with chronic water shortages, Israel pioneered new membrane technology and solar desalination plants to make salty and polluted water safe for human consumption and crops.
IDE Technologies mega-installations can now be found in countries all over the world, from the United States to the Caribbean. In China, IDE has built the country’s largest and greenest desalination plant to meet the country’s expanding energy needs.
63. Airports around the world are a great deal safer now, thanks to a technology developed by Israel’s XSight Systems, which detects foreign object debris (FOD) on the runway – that’s birds, small animals and fragments that break off planes.
The system, which is effective in all weather and visibility conditions, is already in use at international airports in Boston, Paris, Bangkok and Tel Aviv, with more to follow.
Think FOD isn’t that significant? In 2000, the supersonic jetliner Concorde crashed killing 113 people when it hit debris dropped onto the runway by a DC-10 just before it took off. FOD is estimated to cost about $14 billion in direct and indirect damage every year.
64. Strawberries, sweet peppers, cucumbers and eggplants are just some of the crops that are much healthier today because of some tiny little insects and mites bred in Israel. Kibbutz-based Bio-Bee breeds beneficial insects for biological pest control, which enable farmers to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 75 percent. The company exports eight different species of biological control agents, plus pollinating bumblebees, to 32 nations from Japan and the US to Chile. The company’s subsidiary, Bio-Fly, also sells sterile Mediterranean fruit flies to control this major pest in fruit trees, and collaborates with Jordanian and West Bank Palestinian Authority agricultural experts.
65. An Israeli scientist has developed the world’s first vaccine against canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME), a sometimes fatal tick-borne disease in dogs.
CME is one of the most common infectious diseases in canines, affecting not only pets but also foxes, wolves, jackals and other wild dogs. It is prevalent worldwide, and currently cannot be prevented aside from tick control. If dogs are infected they need a lengthy course of antiobiotics.
This is the first vaccine to be proven effective against the disease.
With additional reporting by Viva Sarah Press, Abigail Klein Leichman and Karin Kloosterman.