With growing public concern about the environment and widespread dependence on fossil fuels, alternative energy has become a popular topic. Conversations about alternative energy tend to focus on solar and wind power, but there is so much more to alternative energy. Ongoing research in the field of alternative energy has found energy sources that may surprise you. Although these have yet to explored enough to make them truly viable sources of energy that can replace fossil fuels, it will be interesting to see what the future of energy holds!
Scientists in Iceland have been studying dormant volcanoes in order to explore the possibility of using liquid magma as a geothermal energy source. Conventional geothermal energy is derived from the steam released by geysers and other natural sources. Volcanic geothermal energy differs in that it is derived from water in a supercritical state. In this state, water is neither liquid nor gas and has higher potential energy than steam.
The Living Architecture project has developed Living Bricks capable of converting sunlight, wind, and water waste into useable energy and resources. These bricks are programmable bioreactors, meaning they carry out biological reactions according to their biological programming and based on what substances are used to fuel them. Although it is unlikely these bricks will be able to power an entire house, they’re still a great step towards reducing the environmental impact of modern lifestyles.
Nearly half of Sweden’s household trash is incinerated in waste-to-energy plants to produce heat and electricity, while most of the rest is recycled. As a result, only 1% of Sweden’s trash goes into landfills. This decrease in landfills reduces harmful greenhouse gases such as methane. The system is not without its flaws, however. There are concerns about air pollution created from trash incineration and the potential for Sweden to become dependent on trash for energy. Waste-to-energy isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start to moving away from fossil fuels and reducing the amount of trash in landfills.
Kinetic Energy from Footsteps
Large cities like Las Vegas and New York have started using kinetic energy from pedestrians as an energy source. This energy is collected using kinetic energy pads embedded into sidewalks and roads. When the pad is stepped on it triggers the rotation of an energy-storing flywheel which converts the kinetic energy to electrical energy. This energy source is typically used in conjunction with solar energy.
There are a wide variety of alternative energy sources available and we are learning more about them every day. There is no single alternative energy solution to fossil fuel dependence, but these unique sources of energy could affect the future of the energy industry.