Un­usual sources of en­ergy

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINIONOPINION -

With the global warm­ing prob­lem caused by too much green­house gases in the at­mos­phere, there is a need to shift to clean and re­new­able en­ergy. Fur­ther­more, fos­sil fu­els are near­ing de­ple­tion which makes the search for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources even more im­por­tant.

Apart from wind, so­lar and hy­dro which are now com­monly used, re­searcher s are also im­prov­ing the tech­nol­ogy meth­ane, sea waves, bio­fu­els and al­gae. But did you know that there are also un­con­ven­tional sources of en­ergy which are be­ing stud­ied? Some are al­ready be­ing used on a small or ex­per­i­men­tal scale, but there is a po­ten­tial to scale them up. Here are some of them:

* Breathe power - The AIRE mask, har­nesses the wind power cre­ated by breath­ing and con­verts it into electr ic­ity to run gad­gets like a mo­bile phone. The elec­tronic mask con­tains tiny wind tur­bines and the en­ergy cre­ated is trans­fer red through a cable to the elec­tronic de­vice Body heat - Body heat it is a form of en­ergy al­ready be­ing used in places like Swe­den, the Uni ted King­dom, and United States. The Mall of Amer ica in Min­neapo­lis warms its build­ings dur­ing the win­ter by re­cy­cling heat from shop­pers’ bod­ies. That heat is trans­ferred to dif­fer­ent build­ings through a sys­tem of pipes, wa­ter, and pumps.

* Power of tears - A team of Ir­ish sci­en­tists has dis­cov­ered that ap­ply­ing pres­sure to a pro­tein found in egg whites and tears can gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity. The re­searchers from the Ber­nal In­sti­tute, Univer­sity of Lim­er­ick ( UL), Ire­land, ob­served that crys­tals of lysozyme, a model pro­tein that is abun­dant in egg whites of birds as well as in the tears, saliva and milk of mam­mals can gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity when pressed.

* Eva­por ation -. Eva­por ation is na­ture’s way of cy­cling wa­ter be­tween land and air. A ma­chine called Evap­o­ra­tion En­gine, con­trols hu­mid­ity with a shut­ter that opens and closes, prompt­ing bac­te­rial spores to ex­pand and con­tract. The spores’ con­trac­tions are trans­ferred to a gen­er­a­tor that makes elec­tric­ity. Re­searchers at Columbia Univer­sity find that U.S. lakes and reser­voirs could gen­er­ate 325 gi­gawatts of power, nearly 70 per­cent of what the United States cur­rently pro­duces.

* Power in Mo­tion-Hu­man move­ment can be har­nessed as a source of en­ergy. Called Piezo­elec­tric, it con­verts os­cil­la­tory me­chan­i­cal en­ergy into electr ical en­ergy. This tech­nol­ogy, to­gether with in­no­va­tive me­chan­i­cal cou­pling de­signs, can form the ba­sis for har­vest­ing en­ergy from me­chan­i­cal mo­tion like walk­ing and danc­ing.

* Fish­power - Jel­ly­fish that glow in the dark con­tain the raw in­gre­di­ents for a new kind of fuel cell. Their glow is pro­duced by green flu­o­res­cent pro­tein, re­ferred to as GFP. A team at The Chalmers Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy in Gothen­burg, Swe­den placed a drop of GFP onto alu­minum elec­trodes and then ex­posed that to ul­tra­vi­o­let light. The pro­tein re­leased elec­trons, which travel a cir­cuit to pro­duce elec­tric­ity. Elec­tric eels are also a po­ten­tial en­ergy source. Ca­pa­ble of dis­charg­ing an elec­tri­cal cur­rent of over 400V at once, an eel uses this mech­a­nism to hunt for food as well as find its path in the sea. A suc­cess­ful ex­per­i­ment was con­ducted in Japan where a Christ­mas tree was lit up us­ing the elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated by an eel Cof­fee Grounds – af­ter drink­ing your cof­fee, don’t throw those beans. Re­searchers have dis­cov­ered that cof­fee con­tains up to 20% oil, and could be used to make biodiesel. The oil made from cof­fee is sta­ble when ex­posed to oxy­gen, so it will be healthy for cars, too. If all cof­fee grounds could be con­verted this way, it would cre­ate 2.9 mil­lion gal­lons of biodiesel ev­ery year.

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