From powering homes to treating cancer, the simple battery has come a long way. To up the ante of renewable energy sources, MIT has developed an air-breathing battery that stores energy at zero emissions.
“This battery literally inhales and exhales air, but it doesn’t exhale carbon dioxide, like humans — it exhales oxygen,” says Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT.
Cost of production is 1/30th that of regular lithium-ion batteries. Over five years, researchers experimented with various materials such as sulfur and potassium permanganate. While its impact was a priority, pricing was also heavily considered.
“It’s a creative and interesting new concept that could potentially be an ultra-low-cost solution for grid storage,”
In the end, the battery is definitely the first of its kind and is not only unique, but highly efficient.
If all it takes to generate energy nowadays is a walk and a bit of sweat, it should come as no surprise that it’s also possible to create electricity out of thin air. Or, rather, air that is slightly humid.
[Biophysicist professor Ozgur Sahin’s] laboratory has developed one kind of ‘evaporation engine’, which works by using the movement of bacteria in response to changes in humidity.
Shutters either opened or closed to control moisture levels, prompting bacterial spores to expand or contract. This motion is then transferred to a generator and turned into electricity.
With technologies to convert wind, water, and heat into energy, it seems anything has the potential to do the same. As with anything in its early stages, researchers are treading carefully so as not to affect water resources. However, the machines may be a saving grace to drought-prone areas, as they reduce water loss.
“Some… regions suffer from periods of water stress and scarcity, which might favour implementation of these energy harvesting systems due to the reduction of evaporative losses.”
According to recent calculations, the technology could save 25 trillion gallons of water a year. It’s a godsend, considering how many people aren’t willing to give up hot, hourlong showers. It’s also a harsh reminder that we ought to do our part as consumers.
With Alphabet and Tesla taking over damage control on Puerto Rico, the Caribbean islands are waiting patiently in the wings. Struck by two category 5 hurricanes in the span of a few months, the territory is a war-zone. Stepping in to rebuild a more sustainable paradise is British billionaire Richard Branson.
“Another storm could strike within the coming weeks,” Branson told a meeting of leaders in Washington earlier this month. “The Caribbean must seize the opportunity and take the leap from 20th-century technology to 21st-century innovation.”
The project, dubbed the “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan” hopes to bring clean energy into the country. So far, it’s best bet is to invest in wind and solar. Comparing the damage to that caused by a nuclear blast, Branson hopes not only to help the islands recover, but transform.
“We want to move the Caribbean countries into clean energy and make them more sustainable, which will make dealing with hurricanes much easier,” he said. “The Caribbean Heads of State agree with one voice that this is a good idea.”
As with any disaster, finding an efficient way to recuperate takes priority. But future prevention is by far the closest second.
Solar power exists everywhere — in highways and even infrastructure. It can withstand extreme conditions, or at least as far as we know. Now, two Chinese companies are testing that theory, setting out to build a solar farm on the remains of Chernobyl.
“It is cheap land, and abundant sunlight constitutes a solid foundation for the project,” says Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources.
After years of battling radiation, Chernobyl has apparently become a breeding ground for new possibilities. Golden Concord Holdings and Sinomach will be spearheading the formidable project, which will cover 2,500 hectares.
“There will be remarkable social benefits and economical ones as we try to renovate the once-damaged area with green and renewable energy,” says Shu Hua, chairman of the GLC subsidiary.
As it welcomes hundreds of tourists a year, Chernobyl’s progress is slow but steady. Home to dozens of animal species, the once-toxic ghost town is finally making its comeback.
To salvage deteriorating resources, nations worldwide are setting ambitious eco-goals in a short span of time. By 2012, Costa Rica hopes to phase out single-use plastic products. For the first time in 70 years, Kazakhstan is reintroducing wild tigers into its cat-barren jungles. Not to be left out of the loop, St. Louis is swearing off fossil fuels in an attempt to go fully renewable by 2035.
“It can be a win-win for everyone. We can protect health. We can improve air, we can improve water. We can address climate change. We can save people money on their bills. Why wouldn’t we be moving in that direction?” said [Sara Edgar of Sierra Club.]
St. Louis is among just over 40 cities that have pledged to rely solely on wind and solar energy. For decades, the city has remained a top contributor to health issues caused by smog. It’s now clear that its local government is hoping to make a more positive name for the tourist spot.
“Some of the things that Donald Trump has done since he became commander in chief just goes against everything that I stand [for], that the people of St. Louis stand for,” [said St. Louis President Lewis Reed.]
Yikes. Trump better watch his back — it’s obvious St. Louis isn’t rolling back on its own environmental safeguards!
While countries like Australia rely almost entirely on renewable energy, rural communities still bank on eco-boxes. Nonetheless, things may be taking a positive turn sooner rather than later. After acquiring 536 megawatts of wind power, Google is now the largest corporate purchaser of renewables.
Google’s “electricity consumption is considerable, but for them to meet that already by buying renewable energy is a huge achievement,” [said] Kyle Harrison, a New York-based analyst at BNEF.
Considering its following, Google hopes to inspire other agencies to go green. Already, tech giants like Apple are shadowing the feat in an attempt to go 100% renewable. Overall, Google has procured 3,186 megawatts of power.
“Google is buying renewable energy across three continents, and has paved the way for dozens of other companies,” Harrison said.
Many others jumping on the bandwagon likely won’t surpass Google as number one consumer, but hey. It’s a trend that’s hopefully here to stay.
Never underestimate the potential of renewable energy. From it, we can produce food and even maintain an entire village. Lately, it’s made its greatest impact on Australia, powering 70% of its homes.
The first Australian Renewable Energy Index, produced by Green Energy Markets, finds the sector will generate enough power to run 90% of homes once wind and solar projects under construction in 2016-17 are completed.
The project is slashing carbon pollution to the effect of removing half of Australia’s cars off the road. Breezy! The country’s renewable energy sector is also providing jobs to those who need them. Approximately, there have been up to 10,000 openings. However, Australia doesn’t have the government to thank.
“Instead we can thank the thousands of everyday Australians who stood up and defended the national [RET] from Tony Abbott’s attacks, who saved [the Australian Renewable Energy Agency] from federal government budget cuts, and who pushed their state governments into showing some leadership on clean energy.”
It’s no surprise that locals are accountable for the push to invest in renewable energy. After all, it could save them $1.5 billion off electricity bills in the next 10 years. Who doesn’t want that?
We are entering an era of electric automobiles. From buses to taxis, morning commutes are now all about saving energy. However, these Dutch students are taking the next step in environmentally-friendly technology. They have grown an electric biodegradable car made of sugar beets and flax.
The car is covered with sheets of Dutch-grown flax, has a similar strength-to-weight ratio to fiberglass and weighs only 310kg.
“Only the wheels and suspension systems are not yet of bio-based materials,”
Unfortunately, there is no word on the sweet ride’s commercial development, as it wouldn’t sustain a crash. Still, the team at the Eindhoven University of Technology hopes to at least give it a run. After all, the car (named Lina), proves a vital point.
“Energy that is saved while driving the car is now spent during the production phase,”
Lina, which uses minimal energy in-drive, also uses minimal energy to produce. Hopefully, if not Lina, a car equally as efficient hits the road in the near future.
People don’t always recycle. But when they do, the results are often fascinating. After all, who knew you could build a lamp using a plastic bottle and bleach? The fact of the matter is, while big industries may pioneer sustainability, not everyone will follow suit. This is why Costa Rica aims to be the first country to eliminate single-use plastics by 2021.
The Central American nation intends to replace these wasteful, ocean-clogging items—such as plastic store bags, straws, coffee stirrers, containers and plastic cutlery—for biodegradable or water-soluble alternatives, or products made of renewable materials.
Costa Rica’s government is seeking help from both public and private sectors in performing strategic actions. The country has proven itself an environmental leader, using renewable energy and gradually becoming carbon neutral. However, its landscape is often a dumpsite for waste.
“Although the country has been an example to the world by reversing deforestation and doubling its forest cover from 26 percent in 1984 to more than 52 percent this year, today one fifth of the 4,000 tonnes of solid waste produced daily is not collected and ends up as part of the Costa Rican landscape, also polluting rivers and beaches,”
Single-use plastics are a problem worldwide, but Costa Rica hopes to lead by example. Though eliminating such a common material may be a struggle, the results may well be worth it.
Solar energy has proved to be a clean contender in more ways than one. It has sustained trains and even entire villages. Now, it’s powering an international school in Denmark using over 12,000 solar panels.
C.F. Møller’s International School Nordhavn in Copenhagen uses solar panels to produce clean energy – and also as a part of the building’s aesthetic.
The panels cover over some 6,000 square meters of the school’s facade. They account for half of the school’s electricity needs.
The solar panels were developed by Swiss research institute EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne).
While the school’s exterior appears sea foam green, the panels are actually clear. A particle-generating technology is what gives an appearance of subtle color.
While the likes of MIT may be home to the budding engineers of the world, C.F. Møller is not so far behind with its technology.