Oil, gas and coal will sooner or later run out: their reserves on the planet are limited. What to do next?
As a substitute for hydrocarbon fuels, mankind is offered sources that are usually called alternative or renewable. First of all, this is the energy of the sun, wind, ebb and flow, as well as the bowels of the Earth. Already yawning? Cheer up, it's not about them. There are more original ideas.
There is no bad weather…
Fresh news: engineers from Hong Kong have developed a generator that generates electricity from falling water droplets. In other words, rains can become a new source of renewable and extremely cheap energy! The generator can be installed on the roof of the house, or it can also be installed on the umbrella dome, which will allow, for example, to charge a smartphone in bad weather. And for those regions of the planet where it rains in certain months without ceasing, such a device will become akin to a perpetual motion machine.
Attempts to obtain energy from falling raindrops have been made before, but the power of the generator turned out to be too small. This time we managed to create a device with high efficiency and power density. The idea of the developers was to cover the surface of the generator with a film of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), better known as Teflon. This material is capable of storing an electrical charge, for example, as a result of friction.
Experiments have shown that one drop of water falling from a height of 15 cm can generate voltage and current, which will be enough to light hundreds of small LEDs. A prototype device for practical use will be ready in the next five years, the researchers promise.
And here is another idea directly related to the weather. Its author is the American engineer Anthony Mamo. Considering the maps showing cyclones and anticyclones, he thought: since in some regions of the country areas of high pressure prevail, and in others - low, why not connect them with a pipe? Then the air from the high-pressure zone will blow into the low-pressure zone, sometimes accelerating (as the calculations showed) to supersonic speeds. And if you put a turbine inside the pipe, it will rotate like the same windmill, only much faster.
Now the invention of Anthony Mamo (he himself has already died) is trying to implement the company he founded. According to its director, the capacity of the constructed power plant will be hundreds of megawatts.
Attach it to a dynamo - let the current give to the underdeveloped areas
We all make so many body movements every day that it's a pity for the wasted energy. Engineers all over the world are thinking about this. Interesting suggestions arise: for example, to use the kinetic energy of revolving doors or turnstile handles.
Such generator doors have already appeared in China and the Netherlands. Visitors to shopping malls are forced to push them (usually, as we know, the doors start to rotate on their own at the signal of a sensor) and thus generate free electricity. And in Japan, the same was done with turnstiles at some railway stations. In addition, at Tokyo's Shibuya station, piezoelectric elements were built into the floor below them. They generate electricity from pressure and vibration, which are created when another passenger passes through the turnstile.
Piezoelectric elements, by the way, have long been used in "speed bumps". It all started in the UK, where inventor Peter Hughes created the Electro-Kinetic Road Ramp for highways. Whenever a car runs over this device, which is built into the road surface, it generates an electric current. There is enough power to work traffic lights and illuminate road signs. The British introduced this technology in several cities, then adopted it in other countries.
But since piezoelectric elements can be slipped under the wheels of cars, why not put them under the feet of pedestrians? Another British inventor, Lawrence Camball-Cook, invented paving slabs that convert the footsteps of people walking on it into electricity. When pressed, the device built into the tile bends by 5 mm. The resulting watts are either stored in a lithium battery, or directly go to the lighting of bus stops, shop windows and signage.
At the end of the topic of using free energy, we will mention two more ideas that have already been put on stream. “Here's a ballerina - spinning. Spinning, spinning, dazzling in the eyes. Attach it to the dynamo - let the current give to the underdeveloped areas ", - argued in one of the humoresques Mikhail Zhvanetsky. Why is a cyclist worse? The American company Cycle Atom has launched a device that charges the battery while pedaling, and from it - your gadgets. A similar kit with a dynamo is produced by Nokia.
Playing football can also be beneficial. A group of Harvard alumni have developed a ball that generates electricity when struck. It accumulates in the battery, and after half an hour of playing it will be enough to power a small electrical appliance, for example, a desk lamp with an LED. This ball (called SOCCKET) was created primarily for residents of third world countries, in whose homes the old-fashioned kerosene lamps burn.
Ether energy? No pseudoscience
Another recent post. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a method for producing electricity from air. It is based on a chemical reaction involving soil bacteria Geobacter, from which the researchers "weaved" nanowires less than 10 microns thick. These bacteria have an interesting feature: they generate electricity from moisture in the air. According to the authors, the device will work even in areas with extremely low humidity, such as the Sahara Desert.
The engineers from the American company Ambient Micro went even further. They suggested using the free energy of radio waves, which saturates the space around us. There is no pseudoscience in this: fleeting low-frequency signals from radio or television broadcasts can be converted into direct current. True, this requires a special antenna and nodes. The company is working on them. Of course, the power is very low, but it is enough to charge sensors and other miniature devices.
In Hamburg, Germany, there is a fifteen-apartment building, the facades of which are covered with flat aquariums. They are inhabited by algae extracted from the nearby Elbe. They serve as the sole source of heating and air conditioning for the four-story building, the world's first algae-powered home.
Each aquarium is anchored to the outer scaffolding and turns to follow the sun like a sunflower. Photosynthesis of algae is used to supply energy to the house. When there are too many of them, some are removed from the tanks and converted into biofuel, which heats the building in winter. Environmentalists believe that this is a very promising source of "green" energy, and even call algae an ideal fuel.
Finally - a completely exotic technology from Pennsylvania. Employees at a local university have created a miniature toilet-powered power plant. They studied the bacteria that live in the latrine, and found that, with a certain chemical reaction, they are capable of producing electrons. If you "catch" them, then the received current will be enough to operate the light bulb in the toilet. And if the entire city sewerage system is supplied with such installations, then tram and trolleybus lines can be supplied with electricity.
And who can say that this is not "clean" energy?