With the alarming reports that have come out recently about the state of the environment, people are scrambling more than ever to find renewable clean energy sources.
Solar, water, geothermal, nuclear, wind, and other such power sources are starting to be a big part of energy conversations. But we also have to find some new sources of power if we’re going to make the switch to clean energy.
Scientists are working around the clock to develop new energy innovations that can meet our vast demands for power.
And some of the stuff they’re coming up with is pretty amazing. From artificial photosynthesis to 3D-printed solar energy trees, read on to learn more about the latest renewable energy innovations.
Solar Powered Trains
Solar-powered watches and calculators have been around for a while, but in Australia, they’re getting a little more ambitious.
They have a train that runs entirely on solar power during its three-kilometer trip in Byron Bay. And it has the coolest style around – it’s a refurbished “red rattler” train from the 1950s.
In 2016, the owner of the Elements of Byron resort decided to refurbish the old train and give it a 4.6 billion-year-old power source. The train seats 100 passengers and makes the journey between the Byron Bay town center to the North Beach precinct in ten minutes.
It has zero emissions and has a shed that provides power for it when the sun isn’t shining.
It should come as a surprise to no one that photosynthesis is the ultimate clean energy source. It’s the process plants use to generate energy, and its byproduct is hydrogen. Hydrogen fuel has zero emissions, but the trouble is finding a way to replicate the photosynthetic process.
Well last year, a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge and Ruhr University Bochum did just that. They found a process to split water molecules into their individual hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
This discovery could be the key to entering a post-fossil fuel era.
Other than sunlight, the most consistent source of energy in our world comes from the oceans. Tidal flow provides the same sort of energy that water wheels have used for years. The problem is figuring out how to harness and transport that power from the middle of the ocean.
But scientists are figuring out ways to use the tidal power of the oceans to provide electricity. They use tidal stream generators that power turbines and continually harvest energy.
One estimate said that as much as 20 percent of the UK’s energy needs could be covered by tidal energy.
One of the big problems with the electric car is that it uses just that – electricity – to run off of. While this does do a lot to prevent greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere from your car, you have to recharge the car somewhere. And unless your house is powered by renewable energy, you may not be gaining much on your carbon footprint.
But what if your car could charge itself while it was driving down the road?
New technology has the potential to harness the power of the heat generated by road friction to provide electricity from your car. Goodyear unveiled the concept for these tires in March, and if they hit the market, they have the potential to transform the electric car industry.
One of the greatest sources of renewable energy is solar power. Enough sunlight falls on the Sahara Desert alone each day to power the entire planet. But one of the big challenges of solar power is that it can only be used from batteries, not fuel.
Well thanks to an amazing new energy innovation, that may soon change. Scientists are working on developing a liquid that can store solar power for up to eighteen years.
Now we aren’t saying Star Trek is on the horizon, but this fuel has the potential to make space travel, as well as day-to-day life, a lot easier.
Carbon Nanotube Electricity
Carbon nanotubes are one of the new players in the renewable energy field. These tiny structures are submicroscopic and, as their name suggests, are made of carbon. The molecules link together into honeycomb-shaped structures that form a tube that has incredible tensile strength.
But in addition to being super strong, recent studies have shown that carbon nanotubes actually have the potential to generate electricity. Under certain circumstances, the nanotubes can give off powerful waves of electricity.
If the researchers at MIT can hone the procedure, these nanotubes could power small electrical appliances in the near future.
3D-Printed Solar Energy Trees
If you weren’t already convinced we live in the future, you should take another gander at that headline: 3D-printed solar energy trees. That’s right, folks; we can literally print trees that will harness solar power for us. These devices are covered in tiny synthetic leaves that are made of flexible organic solar cells.
Each leaf has a separate power converter, and in addition to solar power, these trees can also harvest kinetic and heat power if they are placed outdoors. The trunks of these trees are made from wood-based biocomposites, making them somewhat like real trees.
And unlike traditional solar panels, these trees are very attractive – by far the coolest lawn decoration on your block.
Learn More About New Energy Innovations
Getting a reliable source of clean energy is one of the biggest keys to saving our planet.
Reducing fossil fuel usage will go a long way toward stopping global warming, and these new energy innovations will help us get there. It won’t be long before filling up the gas tank will be a thing of the past.