If you are in need of some inspiration then you'll want to keep reading, because you're about to discover the incredible power of forward thinking. This list might not give you answers on how to fix your personal and financial problems, but it could motivate you to keep searching. You'll notice two distinct elements while you read, starting with the bright minds of the world working towards a cleaner future. The second, and probably the most amazing part, is the untapped gift of nature. If you didn't believe in abundant and healthy energy before, get ready to question your principles as we look at the 10 most beautifully strange energy sources.
1. Increasing Solar Efficiency with Carbon Nanotube
This is not a good first impression to the list, is it? Carbon nanotube? Really? How on earth is it going to motivate you in any way? It's not even something that comes up in any normal conversation. In fact, it's something that never comes up.
However, if NASA (or any other space crazy nation for that matter) managed to build a cargo lift between earth and the moon, then you'd probably hear more about carbon nanotube. That's because it's a key aspect for the lift to function. These hollow tubes of carbon atoms have such diverse capabilities that they can even be used to make protective fabrics, like armor for instance. In their natural state they are 10 000 times smaller than human hair, and they are as strong as steel.
Students at MIT have recently discovered a way of using them to make solar panels a hundred times more efficient. Carbon nanotubes are perfect "antennas" for catching sunlight and directing it towards a specific point, which in this case are solar photovoltaic cells. What does this mean to you? Instead of using 10 solar panels, you'll only need one. How's that for creative thinking?
We've all heard about how bacteria is the source of antibiotics, but what if bacteria could be used to create diesel fuel? Currently the most popular choice for clean and renewable energy regarding fuel is biomass. Well, scientists are looking to speed up the process of creating through the E. coli species. During food shortages, this type of bacteria store up fatty acids that can be compared to polyester. Now, if you're a clean energy junkie you'll know that this "polyester" acid is the foundation for biomass diesel. Scientists are currently working on a way to speed up the process by removing enzymes and getting rid of the oxygen through dehydration. This is all very technical, but basically they turn the bacteria into biodiesel.
3. Wind from the Solar System
The first thing you probably think about when you hear something like "the most powerful energy source" is the sun. It sends such a huge amount of energy our way that we are unable to harness it all at once. But what if you were told there's another great energy source in the solar system? A source that's immediately available with billions of times more energy than the world needs? You've guessed it, the source is solar wind. It consists of charged electrons and it streams from the sun.
There are two individuals who believe they can capture these electrons via satellite, then focus it with an infrared laser towards earth. Of course they face many challenge in this quest, for example protecting the satellite from debris and building a laser that can work across millions of miles, but Brooks Harrop (Washington State University) and Dirk Schulze (Washington State's School of Earth and Environmental Science) are confident they'll get there.
4. Dancing Vibrations
There is a club in Rotterdam that has taken more than just some initiative toward renewable energy. The club spent more than R3 million when it invested in piezoelectric technology, which is when electricity is produced through vibrations. They placed this technology into the dance floor, and now the people who walk and dance on it produce the electricity for the light show. Yes, at the moment it's a very expensive investment, and the club will have to draw many crowds in order to recoup what they've spent, but it's quite a novel idea.
As an interesting side-note, the American military are looking into the technology as well. However, they want to use it in the boots of their soldiers, which can then charge electronic equipment they carry around with them.
5. Heat from Human Bodies...and Trains
Did you ever stop to think about how much body heat is created in a subway? Or how much heat the trains emit? Well, the mayor of London (or somebody who works for him) has become aware of this heat and they've decided to put it to good use. It's in the works that all the excess heat coming from subway stations will be directed into the homes. Given that London is such a cold place, this is very innovative approach in terms of saving electricity.
Now check out Part 2!