If we’ve ever needed innovative new ways of producing energy without adverse side effects, we need it now!Fortunately, an exciting smorgasbord of cool new methods of generating “green” renewable energy has cropped up worldwide.
Here is a sampling of 3 ingenious and promising earth-friendly energy solutions that are currently in development for eventual wide-scale use.
Sounds good to me!
Many industries produce heat as a by-product of operations. University of Utah physicist, Orest Symko, has demonstrated how heat can be converted into sound by using a blowtorch to heat a metallic screen inside a plastic tube, which then produces a loud tone, similar to when air is blown into a flute. Symko and his students are developing much smaller devices that not only convert heat to sound, but then use the sound to generate electricity! The devices may be used to cool electronics, harness solar energy in a new way, and conserve energy.
"We are converting waste heat to electricity in an efficient, simple way by using sound," says Symko. "It is a new source of renewable energy from waste heat."
A Wave of Energy
Imagine the vast power of the ocean. If only we could harness even a small portion of that energy! That’s the idea behind “wave farms”. There is almost zero potential for pollution, whether chemical, visual or noise, and there are no greenhouse gas emissions. Floating devices are not expected to have any significant impact on the coastal environment either, which could make it an ideal energy source.
Scottish engineers have been working on an offshore "wave farm" in the Portuguese coastal town of Peniche. The engineers are building large devices called the Pelamis system, which look like rounded train cars.
"Pelamis is actually the name of a surface swimming sea snake, which is quite an apt description for the machine when you see how it moves," says Max Carcas, who runs business development for the Scottish firm Ocean Power Delivery. "Waves travel down the length of the machine and in doing so each of the sections, each of these train carriages, moves up and down and side to side."
These snake-like movements push hydraulic fluid through generators to produce electricity.
Hot Rock Therapy for Mother Earth
‘Geothermal’, or heat stored in rocks, is quite abundant. The best evidence of geothermal activity can be seen in regions close to the boundaries of tectonic plates – such as Japan and New Zealand – where hot springs, volcanoes and geysers are plentiful. These resources are already being used in some countries for heating and electricity.
Many regions also have geothermic dry rock resources found in granite rock layers buried up to several kilometers underground, beneath layers of sedimentary rock. The heat is caused by the radiogenic decay of minerals, in which trace elements in the granite slowly break down, naturally releasing heat.
To harness the energy, first water is pumped down into the hot granite through a bore-hole. The water is then converted to steam by the heat and is channeled to the surface through another bore-hole, where it can be used to drive a turbine.
Although energy from hot dry rocks is not strictly renewable, since eventually the rocks cool down. But Australian scientists say that they have enough hot dry rock in their country to theoretically provide all of the country’s energy needs for centuries! Hot dry rock energy extraction produces no greenhouse gases or pollutants and does very little damage to the landscape because unlike coal mining, it requires no large-scale excavations. A pilot project is now underway.
Posted by Rebecca Sato