Corporate giants like McDonalds (along with other fast food chains) and Google (along with other tech companies) have been participating in the global venture towards turning green. Recently, another giant techie has joined the cause: Apple has announced that its operations are now completely powered by renewable energy. The company claims that all of its shops, offices, and data centers across 43 different countries are part of the program.
“We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it. After years of hard work we’re proud to have reached this significant milestone,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.
“We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”
In a similar vein, Apple has also built an Apple Park campus completely powered by solar energy, as well as other wind and solar projects in China to help counteract its manufacturing wastes. However, Apple products still come from suppliers that the Apple company does not have complete control over. In response to this, the giant has been active in encouraging its suppliers to improve their standards, inclusive of labor conditions and environmental work.
It has encouraged suppliers to follow its lead in using renewable energy, it said, and now 23 of them are committed to working on green power.
If corporate competition between biggies in various industries like food and tech keep happening on the green stage, then one victor would always emerge for sure: our environment. Let’s just hope the battle continues.
Following the success of solar power, developers have been harvesting clean energy from other sources. Now that we can accumulate electricity through passing vehicles and even cow excrement, nothing else seems far-fetched. Wind power may be nothing new, but these floating offshore turbines are the first of their kind.
The 30MW installation… will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters… where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible. At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes.
The irony behind the nautical wind farm is its contractor — Statoil. The company is a corporate giant notorious for oil drilling. It’s somewhat of a paradox, but I’m a fan. Statoil claims that the wind farm’s offshore location is also beneficial.
The farther out you can place offshore turbines, the steadier and faster the wind is. It also comes with the added benefit of avoiding any community arguments over clean ocean views… [also] unimaginably large rotor components can be delivered by sea rather than by land, where roads have weight limits.
In the end, Statoil is living proof that you can easily give back what you take from nature. While we’d rather leave Mother Nature alone entirely, compensation is better than nothing.
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.
Challenging regular sources of energy such as solar, wind, and hydropower are some unusual contenders. Thanks to the growing innovativeness of professionals and amateurs alike, it’s possible to harvest energy from walking and even sweating. Now, scientists are harvesting biofuel from kelp forests growing in the Pacific Ocean.
Kelp is transformed into biofuel by a process called thermochemical liquefaction. The kelp is dried out, and the salt is washed away. Then it’s turned into bio-oil through a high-temperature, high-pressure conversion process.
Biofuels are sustainable and non-polluting, making them great contenders against fossil fuels. Extracting the product from kelp is low-maintenance and unbelievably fast. Asian countries, in particular, are well-versed in the kelp industry, growing it primarily as a food source. However, this is where American startups may be biting off more than they can chew.
“They already have a pre-existing infrastructure that’s pretty sophisticated for growing and harvesting. It’s harvesting for food and other products… And that’s a much better starting point than small companies in the U.S. that try to go from ground zero to a transportation fuel.”
Nonetheless, open-ocean farming is very much a possibility in terms of biofuel production. With 71% of the planet’s surface water-covered, utilizing oceans for the benefit of the environment isn’t such a bad idea.
Engineers are always on the hunt for more efficient ways to power the humble double-A battery. So far, industry geniuses have tried unusual mediums such as air and even spit. Yet the search is far from over–as electronics innovator Juan Pablo Esquivel is testing a paper battery.
“We develop small, nontoxic, inexpensive fuel cells and batteries that don’t need to be recycled and could be thrown away with no ecological impact,” he explains.
The petite power cell will charge disposable devices and microelectronics. And no–we’re not talking Hot Wheels. Esquivel aims to make pregnancy, glucose, and and disease tests cheaper and more accessible.
“Esquivel is like Cristiano Ronaldo, and, like Ronaldo, he’s playing for an excellent team. That’s why he gets results,” jokes Antonio Martínez, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.
With single-use devices hitting the bins before they lose charge, landfills could use a little less lithium.
The era of Energizer batteries has climaxed. Nowadays, the electrochemical cells are powered by unusual sources, spit included. Other new devices don’t even need them. At any rate, updated technology can’t phase them out entirely — so inventor group Ossia has paved middle ground. The solution? A battery that only requires air to charge.
[Ossia’s Cota] transmitter broadcasts a directed and concentrated RF signal towards a given device in a room, which is absorbed by the gadget’s own RF antennas inside, and turned into usable power.
Alas, for gadgets such as iPhones and Fitbits, RF antennas will have to be external. But, as tech circles are, Ossia has an alternative up its sleeve: the Cota Forever Battery.
Featuring the exact same size, form factor, and power output of a traditional AA battery, it can be inserted into a battery-powered device to instantly and easily make it compatible with Cota wireless power transmitters.
Ever dream of never having to switch out obnoxious television remote batteries? It may be time to wake up — the future’s just arrived!
The rapidly increasing climate problem has many depending on carbon calculators and cooling white paint. While quick solutions beget temporary relief, temperatures continue to rise. Instead of working against fossil fuels, startup Net Power is attempting to work with it. The energy group is running a traditional factory that produces zero-emissions.
There are only 17 large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants in operation today, and, annually, they stop less than 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. That’s less than 0.01% of the 40 billion metric tons we emit each year.
Despite the technique’s obvious success, it still lacks the financial backing it needs. So far, only two CCS fossil fuel plants are up and running in Canada and the United States. To offset its own carbon byproducts, Net Power is teaming up with various companies that benefit from CO2.
Net Power will also have customers for the carbon dioxide it captures: oil companies looking for enhanced oil recovery. To get the fossil fuel out of the ground, oil companies pump water into the fields to push out the oil.
Net Power’s pilot plant hardly surpasses the size of a football stadium, but will power up to 40,000 homes. Talk about tiny dynamite!
The future of smart fabric is here. Researchers recently created a fitness tracker woven into athletic wear. While it can track physical performance, it’s facing competition from a new contender. This carbon yarn made from nanotubes can create energy when pulled.
The new material works by essentially generating electricity out of mechanical energy… The carbon nanotube yarns are coated with an electrolyte material (like table salt and water) which charges the yarn up when its twisted or stretched. That voltage, then stored in the yarn, harvests electricity.
Not only is the yarn — dubbed twistron yarn — more futuristic than The Defenders; it can produce a lot of power. Stretch it 30 times and create 250 watts, or get four old-school bulbs working at once. The yarn can also be used in tandem with IoT (Internet of Things) components (smart devices).
“You don’t have to plug them into the wall and you don’t have to change the batteries all the time.”
As of now, the yarn costs far more than an arm and a leg, but developers hope to lessen the cost of production. In doing so, the yarn can be used to generate electricity from ocean waves. Talk about a futuristic product!
We are in the middle of a technological revolution. Machines are producing clean energy more efficiently than ever. Some are even using biological factors such as sweat to produce power. Now, researchers at Binghamton University have manufactured a saliva-powered battery that requires — you guessed it — your spit.
“The proposed battery has competitive advantages over other conventional power solutions because the biological fluid for on-demand battery activation is readily available even in the most resource-constrained settings, and the freeze-drying technology enables long-term storage of cells without degradation or denaturation,”
The bio-battery can create several tens of microwatt-level power for a few minutes — good enough in most cases. Meant for use in remote areas, the gadget could also be life-saving in terms of where light, heat, or communication is needed. Researchers are continuing to develop the device’s power density so it may be applied elsewhere.
“Now, our power density is about a few microwatts per centimetre square. Although 16 microbial fuel cells connected in a series on a single sheet of paper generated desired values of electrical current and voltage to power a light-emitting diode (LED), further power improvement is required for other electronic applications demanding hundreds of milliwatts of energy,”
If this battery is for you, it’s probably time to give those glands a workout!
To ease difficulties within rural communities, startups such as Off Grid Box are doing their best to provide essentials. Without significant funding, water and energy supplies aren’t always on a high. However, a secondary school in Kenya is prioritizing its students by sporting a solar roof.
One of its iron-sheet roofs is covered in tiles fitted with energy-producing solar cells – an innovative solar-power technology known as “building-integrated photovoltaics.”
Compared to solar panels, the tiles are cost-friendly, although pricier than conventional rooftops. Strauss Energy, along with the United States African Development Foundation, is responsible for providing tiles to the Gaitheri school. Since then, the school has supplied not only reliable energy to its students, but alternative classes as well.
We’ve got 18 computers, but power was a challenge before Strauss Energy came on board,”
Monthly, Gaitheri saves $14.50 on electricity. With some 45 million Kenyans lacking access to electricity, Gaitheri’s solar tiles are groundbreaking. On the plus side, photovaltic equipment is becoming cheaper and more accessible, with the potential to light up buildings anywhere in the world.