Nov 12, 2010— read in full
Wacky sources of sustainable energy
Who would have thought mad inventions like chip fat-fuelled cars and solar-powered fridges could become real products?
But even a chip-fat fuelled car will sound deathly dull in comparison to these crazy energy alternatives. From poo power to electron-sucking chips, is this what the future will look like? Watch this space!
1. Poo power
Israel-based Bio Petrol must be flushed with pride over this potty idea. It wants to take human sewage and convert it into liquid fuels through thermochemical processes.
According to the company, a tonne of high-quality human muck can produce about 30kg of fuel.
The idea would end offshore drilling, slash the cost of oil and eliminate the problem and cost of disposing of human waste.
2. Energy towers
This idea comes from professor Dan Zaslavsky, who points out that water droplets at the top of a tower will evaporate, causing hot desert air to cool.
The air will then sink and be directed into a turbine, effectively generating wind power.
According to the prof’s figures, a 50-megawatt energy tower would have to be more than 600 metres high and stretch a few hundred metres wide. Maybe not an idea for the back garden then!
3. Electricity from nothing
Scientists have found a way of converting temperature differences or the Seebeck Effect into electricity. In this method, electric current can be generated by the energy differences between two materials in close proximity. It’s already being used by the CEA, France’s Nuclear Commission, which has an ambient thermoelectric generator that can put out 4 milliwatts per square cm for every Celsius degree difference.
4. The Self-Powered hydrogen plant
Offshore platforms could be used to harvest power from deep-sea waves and then split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.
Some of the hydrogen could then be used to power the offshore platform. The rest could be shipped to mainland fuel cells via an undersea pipeline that would liquefy the gas, making it easier to transport.
5. The Refrigerator on a chip
Gibraltar-based company Cool Chips claims to have invented a chip-sized device that cans suck electrons out of a contained space.
Despite numerous plans to discuss its prototypes (being built in a secret lab in an unidentified city in Russia), little more has ever emerged about this wacky idea. Maybe they put it on ice!