World Expo illustration

Imagine a world where you can brew coffee with thin air

As we grapple with massive challenges like a global pandemic, the climate crisis and unstable geopolitics, it is critical that we keep our eyes open to the potential of a better tomorrow. 

As we grapple with massive challenges like a global pandemic, the climate crisis and unstable geopolitics, it is critical that we keep our eyes open to the potential of a better tomorrow. All it takes is collaboration and co-creation, and the willingness to imagine a more resilient future. Wärtsilä’s partnership with Paulig at the World Expo is a perfect example.  

With all the challenges facing the global community, it is normal to feel disconnected to or overwhelmed by the world around us. But sometimes what we need to do is stop, take a sip of coffee and reflect on the future. And if you are a visitor doing just this at the Finnish Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai this year, you will, quite literally, be getting a taste of what the future might hold. 

That’s because the pavilion will be playing host to Wärtsilä’s Power-to-X demonstration unit, which uses cutting-edge technology to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from indoor air. Through electrolysis, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. While the fresh oxygen is released back into the air, the hydrogen is combined with the remaining CO2 particles to create carbon-neutral synthetic methane, a green fuel. The demonstration unit itself is a product of close collaboration with Finnish innovative technology companies Soletair Power and Q Power – two companies that have helped bring the Power-to-X technology demo to life. Remarkable? Wait. There’s more. 

Responsibly sourced coffee from Finnish food and beverage company Paulig is then brewed in the coffee machine that runs on this synthetic methane. In one stroke, Wärtsilä, together with its many partners, has pulled off the seemingly impossible. Engaging ground-breaking technology to combat a real-world problem and using it to create an eco-friendly solution. Out-of-the-box thinking, great coffee and deep-rooted respect for nature – you can’t get more Finnish than that. After all, the Finns drink more coffee per capita than any other nationality and Finland has more forests and water than anywhere else in Europe. 

Solutions for the future

Collaborations like these are going to be an integral part of Wärtsilä’s activities at the World Expo. While originally scheduled to take place in 2020, the expo was rescheduled because of the pandemic. It will now take place between October 2021 and March 2022 and bring together experts, technologies, and resources from across the world to co-create sustainable solutions to global problems.  

According to  Atte Palomäki, Wärtsilä’s Executive Vice President Communications, Branding & Marketing, the company is always eager and willing to promote Finnish expertise and solutions – and World Expos are a great opportunity to do so.  

As a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, Wärtsilä is ideally placed to provide smart solutions to build a more sustainable society. Power-to-X technology is a proven process that can help decarbonise our way of life, and therefore collaborating with Finnish companies at the World Expo and being able to showcase innovative technology in a concrete way was a natural move. 

“We have much in common with Paulig. Both Paulig and Wärtsilä were founded in 19th-century Finland and have deep roots in Finnish society. Today, both of us have grown to become strong, well-known brands and important global players in our respective industries,” says Palomäki. 

He also emphasises that such partnerships will become more common in the ‘era of collaboration’ that the world is entering. In addition to Soletair Power, Q Power and Paulig, Wärtsilä is working closely with Business Finland and different partner companies for the benefit of the Finland country brand as an official partner of the Finnish pavilion at the World Expo.

Dare to imagine 

Wärtsilä’s hope is that the World Expo itself and the innovative technology demonstrated there can show the world that all is not gloom and doom. While the problems facing humanity are immense, the technology and expertise to meet and overcome these challenges exist. All it requires is the collective will to use them. 

That is also why Wärtsilä has put forward an open-ended call for people at the Expo. By asking people to “Imagine a world where…”, Wärtsilä wants to hear from different stakeholders, potential partners, and ordinary folks about their vision for a more resilient and sustainable society and work with them to make this happen.  

“At this point, more than ever in our long history, people should strive to imagine a better future, and proactively work towards it themselves. Our collaboration around the Power-to-X unit with Soletair Power and Q Power, which produces future fuels from air, is living proof of this. The Dubai World Expo will be the place where this and other inspirational examples will give people hope and allow them to unleash the power of imagination,” says Palomäki 

From a world where fossil fuel use is eliminated, and our oceans cleaned up, to a future where our industries are decarbonised and running on 100% renewable energy – nothing is beyond the realms of possibility. The solutions to making these dreams come true, could, quite literally, be produced from thin air. 

Written by
Nikhil Sivadas
Senior Editor at Spoon Agency