We are all aware of the main forms of renewable energy in solar and wind generated power as well as the less popular, but still known ,geothermal and hydro-power energy. With the continued advancement in this field, new types of renewable energy are being researched and created by the brilliant minds in this field and some are being used today. Projects are using underground stores of liquid magma, dirt and microbes, and even pedestrian footsteps to harvest energy around the world (Engadget). None of these techniques alone will lead to the path of 100% renewable energy, but with more research they can help save communities around the world. Here is a list of a few unique renewable energy sources:
Underground Liquid Magma: In Iceland they are experimenting with a new type of geothermal energy and taking it to the next level by tapping into underground liquid magma 5 kilometers below the surface. Temperatures can reach 1000 degrees C and have the ability to create 10 times more energy than typical geothermal sources.
Wind Energy From Trees: Vibrations in tree movement, when the sway, can be converted into usable energy. The concept was proven using piezoelectric material, that allows for electric charge to accumulate in a solid, and then wrapping that around a small demonstration. The example only produced around two volts, but would be magnified if implemented to work around full size trees.
Bacteria and Dirt Batteries: Scientists at Harvard University built a battery that’s essentially powered by dirt. The creation of the microbial fuel cell (MFC) batteries is an energy storage breakthrough primed to aid residents of countries with absent or unreliable power grids, such as regions of Africa where many people still live off the grid. MFC batteries are low in cost and can be constructed from local resources. Instead, an MFC battery is built inside of a five-gallon bucket, which is filled with saltwater and holds a graphite-cloth anode, a chicken-wire cathode, mud, manure, and a layer of sand to act as an ion barrier in the solution.
Trash: In Sweden, the nation is already diverting 99 percent of its garbage from landfills and sending much of it to waste-to-energy (WTE) plants that turn it into electricity. Fully half of Sweden’s annual 4.4 million tons of household waste goes through the WTE process, which burns waste and creates energy from the resulting steam. Sweden’s processes are so efficient that the nation actually imports 800,000 tons of trash from nearby countries to its 32 WTE plants, keeping even more garbage out of landfills.
Living Bricks: These bricks take advantage of the metabolic power of microbes to convert sunlight, wastewater, and air into clean energy. Similar to Harvard’s microbial fuel cell (MFC) battery made from dirt, these living bricks would put natural processes to work. The prototypes generate small amounts of electricity, but it’s enough to power an LED lamp or another small device. Someday, the inventors hope to develop the technology to a point where entire structures can be built from “bioreactor walls” which could be constructed to emit their own light.
Kinetic Streetlights: Millions of people walk the sidewalks of Las Vegas each year, and now some of those footsteps are generating clean renewable electricity. New York-based EnGoPLANET is harvesting energy by installing special streetlights powered by kinetic energy pads embedded in the walkways. The solar-kinetic streetlights are one element in the broader plan to make Las Vegas a net-zero emissions city powered completely by renewable energy (Engadget).
What a crazy and neat world we live in to see these types of renewable energy come to fruition. The future holds many unique and exciting ways in which we can create energy to help save our planet. We cannot wait to see what comes next!