People are constantly coming up with wacky types of alternative energy. The world’s dependence on fossil fuels such as coal and oil is having a devastating effect on both the environment and our wallets. Coal and oil are not only dirty and damaging, but the sheer cost of extracting them from the earth is increasing, leading scientists across the globe to consider types of alternative energy which we could turn to in our hour of need. Some of them aren’t conventional, and some are plain outrageous, but these types of alternative energy are definitely thought-provoking and could well be the places we turn to next for our energy needs.
What types of alternative energy can be better than using us, the humans? Those of us who frequent state of the art gyms could soon be finding that not only are you starting to burn off calories as you exercise, but that you are also being used by the gym to generate electricity. A machine has been developed in Hong Kong that converts our muscle power into electricity, with absolutely no difference to the way you exercise. Estimates show that depending on the machine, exercise intensity and the fitness of those exercising, up to 500 watts per hour could be produced, enough to power up to 6 desktop computers for an hour!
Have you ever wondered if the time you spend texting friends and family was a waste? Well with piezoelectricity, there is a promise that you could soon be using your texting to produce electricity. The idea is that a new cell phone will be made, which, when the buttons are pressed, becomes an alternative energy generator. The makers say that you will produce only around half a watt of energy per button pressed, but over the course of a whole text conversation, there is potential for some serious electricity to be produced.
Who’d have thought that cow’s bottoms could be one of the sources of alternative energy? It has been suggested by various scientists that a significant factor in climate change is the amount of methane which cows produce when they pass wind. In 2006, it was estimated that livestock was responsible for almost a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases – more than all types of motorised transport combined. Recently, however, scientists have embarked on developing a way to turn the methane, which can be gathered from cow dung, and turning it into a renewable bio-gas!
While you may not believe it, E. Coli is one of the types of renewable energy being developed by scientists. The single-celled microorganisms are used to excrete crude oil which is carbon negative – not just neutral, but actually takes carbon out of the environment!
Wind has been with us as one of the more sustainable, renewable forms of alternative energy for quite some time now. Wind farms are a very good concept, but they really are an eyesore when placed in areas of natural beauty. That’s why the concept of floating wind farms has arisen – to place wind farms miles out of view, tethered together rather than being fixed to the floor of the ocean. Not only are they out of the way, but the winds further away from the shore are stronger, and therefore will generate much more electricity.
Each year, cargo ships contribute hundreds of millions of tons of pollution to the environment. This idea for producing energy is that ships will have huge kites attached to them, acting much like sails, which will pull the ships across the open sea rather than relying solely on an engine. The idea has been proposed to not only help the environment, but also save huge amounts of money on fuel expenses each year.
Nuclear power is controversial, there is no doubt. Scientists have put forward an idea of having tiny nuclear reactors which could be easily maintained. They argue that nuclear power isn’t dangerous as long as it is not produced in huge quantities – smaller reactors could be designed to provide power, but at a much lower risk to human lives.
Hopefully you have enjoyed my list of some of the wackiest forms of alternative energy. Scientists are doing a great job of finding new ways to help the world with its energy needs, but we’re still a long way from weaning ourselves off fossil fuels. Do you know of any madcap ideas for producing energy?
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