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Scientists are constantly looking for new ways to produce energy, rather than relying on carbon-producing, unsustainable sources. The world has come a long way from complete dependence on fossil fuels with wind and solar power transforming the energy industry, and we’ve seen some alternative energy sources, a couple of which are pretty unusual, that may end up powering your home, car or business in the future!
Algae is formed of multiple tiny organisms that live in water and thrive on carbon dioxide. These organisms produce algal oil which is then converted into biofuel.
Scientists are currently testing the best environment for algae to produce as much algal oil as possible without harming the cells within the organisms that would eventually kill them. Once the best option has been determined, more steps can be taken to make this source more commercially viable.
This means that in the future, there is potential for our cars, planes and trains all to be powered on algae.
Take a look at how an algae farm works here:
When searching for sustainable energy sources, it could be possible that we’ve been ignoring a key producer – our own body heat!
In fact, the body heat given off by rushing commuters in Stockholm Central Station is gathered and used to heat up an office building close by. Rather than letting all this heat escape after the rush has died down, it is transported through a series of pipes out of the station and into local businesses.
Body heat does not only provide warmth, but can also generate electricity through thermoelectric technology, which could revolutionise the way we currently use mobile devices. Thermoelectric technology produces electricity when exposed to different temperatures, so when placed against skin it can generate energy.
With the popularity of smart watches in recent years, this energy source could prove very successful, and maybe one day charging handheld devices through a power socket will be a thing of the past!
Piezoelectricity generates energy when a material is put under strain or pressure, and has proven to work successfully when the technology has been placed underneath nightclub dancefloors.
With every movement that partygoers make on the dancefloor, the strain generates electricity through piezoelectricity, and systems have been installed in some dancefloors to make them entirely self sufficient!
Aequorea victoria, a bioluminescent jellyfish, contain Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) which allows scientists to create miniature fuel cells. These tiny fuel cells are being tested for use within nanotechnology, which could change lives! It has been suggested that these jellyfish-powered nanodevices can reverse blindness and fight off tumours.
However, as thousands of jellyfish need to be blended up to extract GFP. the sustainability and ethical issues behind this energy source would make it hard to produce on a large scale right now. Although, future advancements may improve the efficiency of the energy source from jellyfish and GFP.
Now sugar may be fuel for our bodies, it has also being used as a source of electricity as well!
Percival Zhang and his team at Virginia Tech have created a biobattery, which can create a lot of electricity just from glucose. Rather than charging the battery at a plug socket, you simply need to pour in a sugar solution. Zhang believes it could be commercially available very soon!
This could lead to current electricity sources being replaced with sugar-based science. So one day in the future, instead of reaching for a power cable to charge your phone you could be quickly topping up your battery with a bag of sugar!
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