Our world today is dominated by technology. With devices enabling faster and more efficient work, technology has become an inseparable part of our lives. Technological advances, in turn, are heavily dependent on energy, particularly electricity. Unfortunately, heavy demand on available sources of energy has resulted in the depletion of this form of energy.
With most of the sources being non-renewable, the search for renewable sources of energy is one of the greatest challenges faced by the modern world. Scientists and many companies have been conducting research on the harnessing and sustainability of electric energy from sources such as solar power, geothermal sources, wind, and even tidal waves. Solar panels have long been used, but now they are used to line up roofs, not only for tapping the power of the sun but also to insulate the house.
No stone is left unturned in trying to find possible ways for generating electricity. Many unique possibilities have cropped up which might seem weird at first, but can play an important role in providing sustainable power. Nanotechnology, thermodynamics, and even body heat is being explored as a potential source of power that could charge up our techno world.
The human body has been slated as an important green source of energy for the future. At 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, it is energy-packed and constantly renewing. Cashing in upon this concept, a real estate company in Sweden utilises the body heat from a quarter million commuters passing through the Stockholm Central Station every day. Heat exchangers installed in the station’s ventilating systems convert this excess heat to hot water, which is then pumped to the nearby building. The hot water then circulates to keep the building warm.
The concept has also been adopted by the US Department of Energy to design a body jacket that converts body heat into electricity. The electricity generated can charge a mobile phone and other such bodily devices, such as tablets, notebooks and laptops.
Sporting events that involve a lot of physical activity such as golf or cricket are great sources of energy. As the sportsperson swings his bat, a racquet, or a baseball, the body generates heat that can be converted and stored with the help of a handheld device. This device, which was designed and developed by Mac Funamizu, can later be used for simple tasks such as charging a mobile phone.
A Nigerian Harvard undergraduate, Jessica Matthews has developed this extraordinary device – aptly named Soccket – which stores kinetic energy generated by a player in action to power a reading lamp. It can produce 3 hours of LED light with 30 minutes of play!
FROM THE GYM
Exercising, particularly cycling at the gym, has tremendous potential for tapping energy. This unique idea was developed and adopted by the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark. They developed a scheme, where guests who cycled on an exercise bike for about 15 minutes and produced at least 10 watt hours of electricity were given free meal vouchers. The bikes were attached to generators that converted the energy so obtained into electrical power. The energy, thus, derived was sufficient enough to charge a laptop for at least half an hour. This unique idea can be implemented by every gym, and even individuals at their personal healthcare centres.
THE DANCE FLOOR
Dance floors and discotheques, in our view, are huge consumers of energy, especially with their psychedelic lights and deafening sound systems. However, the club Bar Surya in London has developed an innovative way to harness the lost energy. They have attached springs beneath the dance floors, which when compressed generates electricity. This is stored in batteries that further supply electricity to run the devices of the club. According to the bar owner, this unique method can provide 60 % of the club’s power needs.
With the growing popularity of dance, aerobics and other related activities, clubs all over the world can adopt such methods to produce indigenous electricity.
Exhaust pipes in cars expel unused fuel from within in the form of heat. Devices like thermoelectric generators depend upon temperature gradients to convert this heat into electric energy. “The temperatures in the exhaust pipe can reach 700 degrees Celsius or more,” says Dr. Harald Böttner, Head of the Thermoelectric Systems department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM. According to him, the temperature of the pipe carrying the engine coolant is several hundred degrees lower than the exhaust pipe; thus, providing energy that can power most of the car’s requirements.
Concrete roads absorb huge amount of heat during daytime and can, therefore, turn out to be a very good source of energy. Ooms Avenhorn Groep BV, a company from Holland, came up with the innovative idea of tapping this much wasted source of energy. As per the idea, water is allowed to run beneath the roads, thereby absorbing the heat from the roads above and acquiring the energy. This hot water is then utilised for buildings, and also to charge turbines.
WALKING ON TILES
This idea cashes in on hundreds of thousands of people commuting through shopping malls, stations and airports. The collective footfall can actually produce sufficient amounts of energy that can be put to good use. In fact, a station in Tokyo has its walkways lined with piezoelectric tiles that help with this conversion.
Just like the real anaconda snakes, these rubber snakes – 200 yards in length – are filled with water and allowed to swim in the sea. The sinuous wave pattern is transferred to the water in the tube, which turns a turbine in its tail. The energy is then transferred via cables. According to researchers, about 50 such snakes can power at least 50,000 homes!
From global issues to little homely tasks, such unique ways can really go a long way in harnessing green energy and making the world a much better place!
License: Royalty Free or iStock
Author C McDonald: I am a keen blogger looking to expand my writing skills by writing about new topics. I normally blog about technology and travel and I like to supply guest posts to a number of high quality websites.
This post is brought to you on behalf of Haven Power, a UK business electricity supplier.