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Power the Future

June 12th, 2010 by Steve Hill Leave a reply »

Gribble - the future of power generation?

Alternative energy sources are always being sought, it was not that long ago that solar, wind and heat pump were slightly off the wall alternative energy sources – now they are regarded as perfectly normal and needed.

Recently I was reading and interesting blog that offered some other sources of energy you may not have thought about (positiveenergy) – maybe alternatives that will be become fully accepted in the not to distant future.

Nations and governments may rely of Gribbles to combat concerns over energy security, let alone climate change – Gribble, yes Gribbles, check out what the future energy sources could be:

Waste tea leaves. Scientists at a Pakistani university used a gasification process to create biodiesel from used tea leaves. Considering that the world today consumes several million tones of tea annually, the leaves could be a reliable fuel source.

Gribbles. A tiny, wood-chewing crustacean called Limnoria quadripunctata, or the gribble, has been shown to have a digestive trait that could convert wood and straw into liquid biofuel. Researchers at the universities of York and Portsmouth have proposed using the enzymes that fill the creatures’ long digestive tracts to break down cellulose and lignin into energy-rich sugars.

Grass clippings. Again at the University of York, scientists are experimenting with using microwaves to heat garden and wood waste in the absence of oxygen in a process called pyrolysis. The resulting biofuel could be blended with fossil fuel or used by itself.

Frog foam. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are creating an artificial photosynthetic material that uses enzymes from plants, bacteria, fungi, and frogs, all trapped within a foam housing, to create solar energy in an entirely new way. Foam was chosen because it can effectively concentrate the reactants but allow very good light and air penetration. The design was based on the foam nests of a semi-tropical frog called the Tungara frog, which creates very long-lived foams for its developing tadpoles.

Poke berries. The fruit of the pokeweed — the ubiquitous purple-stalked plant that grows rampantly across the south and whose red berries Civil War soldiers used to write letters home – could be the key to spreading solar power across the globe, according to researchers at Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials. Scientists have used the red dye made from pokeberries to coat their efficient and inexpensive fiber-based solar cells. The dye acts as an absorber, helping the cell’s tiny fibers trap more sunlight to convert into power.

Household garbage. A consortium of companies in Australia is investigating the viability of constructing an ethanol plant that would turn household rubbish and building waste into more than 200 million liters of fuel per year. The process, developed by a U.S. biofuel company, Coskata, Inc., uses sources like municipal, commercial, and industrial waste at the end of its life cycle—waste otherwise bound for the landfill, and turns them into renewable energy.

Cow power. Using the methane gas byproduct of cattle is old news, but William Taylor, a farmer in Northern Ireland, has rigged up an entirely new way of deriving renewable energy from cows. Instead of letting his cows free range while they graze, he puts them on a treadmill. The electricity generated from one cow on a treadmill is enough, says the farmer, to power four milking machines. And as a bonus, cows that exercise produce more milk.

Tomatoes. Designer Cygalle Shapiro created a tiny LED lamp powered off circuits running off several tomatoes sitting next to it. The lamp draws power off of the chemical reaction among the tomatoes’ acids, zinc, and copper. And the “batteries” run out when the tomatoes turn stale.

Tobacco. Maybe there’s hope for this cash crop. Researchers in Virginia have suggested that tobacco could be genetically modified to use as a biofuel, with the added benefit that it is not a food source, like corn and soybeans — and therefore the object of a battle over resources. Because it can generate high quantities of oil and sugar, its potential as a fuel crop is high, but commercial use as a biofuel may be more than five years away.

Picture by Auguste Le Roux

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2 comments

  1. Alan Mor says:

    Great post. I think its time for a change in the way we produce energy, fossile fuels should be a thing of the past specially with all the other sources of renewable energy we have now there is no need for fossile fuels any more. The one thing that really stud out from this article (for me) is the Poke Berries, i have always said that the Sun is the most powerfull energy source we have and we should use it, now with the help of our dear berry friends ;) even better. Hope we can make the change soon and protect our planet.

    Thumbs Up!

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