With the steep rise in the prices of energy accompanied by the concerns of global warming and climate change, researcher groups in different parts of the world have come up with amazing ways to generate renewable energy. Whenever a discussion on renewable energy is being held, taking the forefront of the conversation is solar and wind energy. However, apart from these two forms of clean energy sources, there is much more in the renewable energy world. Here we are going to unfurl some of the most bizarre sources utilized for clean energy generation.
On an average, a single bolt of lightning that hits the ground carries a whopping power of one million kilowatts. However, harnessing all that energy isn’t as easy as generating solar or wind energy. US-based renewable energy company, Alternate Energy Holdings, has been working on technology that could somehow harness that amazing fury of nature to produce usable electricity. The company came up with the lightning farm technology that collects power from the ground area surrounding a lightning strike and converts it into usable electrical power. The power is then normally relayed to the electrical grid for distribution. The company states that over a period of four to seven years, the farm could produce and sell electricity at a cost of just $0.005 per unit.
After a long walk we usually start feeling tired and complain that we have no energy left to continue. However, according to the laws governing the flow of energy, energy is not destroyed but is transformed from one form to another. Utilizing these principles different research groups in different parts of the world have come up with uniquely designed products that can use all the energy you expend while walking to charge a set of wearable batteries that can later be used to at least power your cell phone. While the energy output of this technology isn’t much, global adoption could mean millions of portable electronic devices being taken off the grid.
While not many would think that human waste and renewable energy have nothing much in common, a team of researchers at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory claimed to have developed a microbial fuel cell that runs on urine. The pee-powered fuel cell carries bacteria that break down organic molecules found in uric acid and peptides to produce renewable energy. The fuel cell is excitingly efficient in performing the reaction with the research team claiming that just 25ml of urine is sufficient to produce a current of 0.25mA for three days.
Trees give us food, shade, oxygen and even absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide to keep our planet cool. However, researchers from the University of Washington claim that trees produce electricity as well. The team conducted an experiment with one electrode stuck into a maple leaf and the other in the ground and to their surprise they found a tiny stream of electrical current flowing through, about a few hundred millivolts. Though, it might not sound as the end of the energy crisis, the team believes that they can boost the output to 1.1 volts with the use of nanotechnology.
Flying kites is one of the favorite pastimes of people around the world. While some may fly them just for fun, students at TU Delft believe that custom kites could provide electricity to 100,000 urban homes. The scientists here have demonstrated that a single 10sqm kite could produce 10kW of power, which is enough for 10 urban homes. The kites harvest energy in upper layers of the atmosphere, where the speed of wind is much more than what is available near the surface. The team believes that they can scale the prototype and produce variants that can generate 50kW of power and a farm with multiple kites could easily generate up to 100MW of renewable electrical power.