Greener batteries with the help of viruses.
April 6, 2009 3:13am CST
I have always been intrigued by new research and developments in the environmental friendly products. This is a recent one of Greener batteries featured in the National Geographic website which uses a common virus. Scietists hope that they can replace the curent batteries which use toxic electrodes. Here is the link. Read on... http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090403-virus-battery.html And do share any such interesting articles that you come across. National Geographic:- " Inspiring people to care about the planet"
21 Apr 09
I hope this you will find nteresting. 10 Next Generation Green Technologies 1. Concentrated Solar Power When most of us think about solar power, we picture the silicon panels that dot our greener neighbors' roofs, converting the sun's rays directly into electricity. But there's another, simpler type of solar power that uses massive mirrors to focus the heat of the sun, creating steam that can drive electric turbines. The advantages of concentrated solar power (or solar thermal, as it's also known) is that utilities can build commercial-scale plants that could potentially replace fossil fuel-powered plants for a lot less money than what it would take to install thousands of distributed solar photovoltaic panels. 2. Tidal Energy Anyone who has been caught in a nasty undercurrent knows the power of the tides. And just as windmills can covert the physical energy in a breeze into electricity, tidal turbines can do the same for the motion in the ocean. The engineering principle is no different — the steady currents found in coastal of water like Canada's Bay of Fundy turn the rotors of an underwater turbine. But tidal streams are far more predictable than wind, which means utilities using tidal don't have to worry about unexpected still days. 3. Smart Grid The U.S. electrical grid is antiquated, prone to breaking down and terribly wasteful. Utilities don't even know there has been a power outage until customers pick up the phone and call them. But we could achieve tremendous energy savings — and emit less carbon — if we marry the electrical grid to the networked power of the Internet, in a concept called the smart grid. Intelligent, networked electrical meters could track exactly how much electricity we're using, and adjust our rates and usage patterns automatically for maximum efficiency. 4. Offshore Wind Wind power is great — it's perfectly clean, it's relatively reliable and it can be scaled up quickly. But there are downsides. For one thing, to get to scale, wind farms have to grow and grow, and land is often at a premium. But put wind turbines just offshore, in the water, and you can take advantage of plentiful space and stronger winds. 5. Algae Biofuel Biofuel from food plants like corn is simply a bad idea — it does little to reduce carbon emissions, and drives up grain prices. Advanced biofuels from cellulosic material — plant waste and wood — are better, because they don't compete directly with food, but they still need reasonably fertile land in which to grow. Algae — microscopic plant-like organisms that feed on carbon and produce oil that can be used to make fuel — don't have that problem, and that could make them the perfect biofuel. Algae can be grown on waste land in plastic tanks called bioreactors, with little more than sun, heat and water — and the water can be salty, which leaves freshwater for food crops. 6. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Environmentalists dream of the day when all of America's electricity will come from the sun, wind, water and other truly renewable sources. But the unavoidable reality is that fossil fuels like coal are deeply embedded in our energy system, and we'll have to use them for years. That means we must figure out a way to inexpensively capture the carbon released by burning fossil fuels and sequester it into the ground. Currently there are no utility-scale Carbon Capture and Sequestration projects, and there are still outstanding technical challenges — like ensuring that the captured carbon remains buried in the ground for centuries into the future. But a few experimental projects are underway. 7. Geothermal Geothermal energy can be used to make electricity, by taking the ultra-hot water found beneath certain parts of the Earth's surface, converting it to steam and then using the steam to drive an electric turbine. Right now geothermal energy is mostly used in countries with unusually active volcanic surfaces, like Iceland, where more than a quarter of the country's electricity comes from geothermal sources 8. Lithium-ion batteries As we wean cars and trucks off gasoline and other fossil fuels, battery technology will become increasingly important. Until recently, most larger-scale batteries were made using nickel and cadmium, but they were heavy, and lacked the long life needed to properly power cars. That's shifted in recent years to lithium-ion batteries, which can be made much smaller, with a superior weight-to-energy ratio. Your laptop, iPod and cell phone all use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The hope is that the same kind of technology will finally begin to make electric cars a reality, by producing batteries that can run a car for 40 miles or more per charge, but which won't take up the entire backseat. 9. Concentrated Solar Photovoltaic (CSPV) Some renewable energy ideas are complicated — it'd take a PhD to explain the biochemical ins and outs of cellulosic ethanol. But others are simple — like concentrated solar photovoltaic. If you've ever used a magnifying glass to focus the sun's light and burn an unfortunate ant, you've got the gist of it. CSPV plants uses mirrors or lenses to concentrate the sun's light on an array of solar PV panels, vastly increasing the amount of electricity that can be produced. It's a cheap way to multiply solar power; instead of producing lots of expensive PV panels, you can get the same amount of electricity with relatively cheap mirrors. 10. Nuclear Fusion The white whale of energy, scientists have been hyping the potential of nuclear fusion since, oh, the first hydrogen bomb was dropped over the Marshall Islands in 1952. It's easy to see why: nuclear fusion powers the sun, and it holds out the possibility of near-limitless electricity, without pollution. But decades of research have gone by and scientists remain incapable of creating a sustainable fusion reaction that could be used to create reliable power. That could be changing, however. Construction has begun on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a $15 billion project that will rely on magnetic fields that are 100,000 times stronger than the Earth's to create the conditions necessary for viable fusion. The plant is scheduled to be switched on in 2018 — assuming everything goes right. Nuclear fusion remains a long shot, but if the world is going to avert climate change, we'll need some luck, too. This I gathered from CNN and TIMES.
2 people like this
21 Apr 09
sanuanu From the little that i know, yes Geothermal energy is being used in some countries. New zealand i know has being using it. There are other countries as well, but i'm sure there is a long way to go for it. Here is a link which should help http://geothermal.marin.org/geoenergy.html
6 Apr 09
I recall hearing something about this a while back, but then I never heard anything else about it, so it's great to see this article! What I do find intriguing are the debates surrounding whether the carbon nanotubes are ultimately good for the environment or not? This is a fascinating advancement, but it would certainly be ironic to end up with a biologically active energy solution that ends up being BAD for the environment! Hopefully the positive side of the debate will win out on this one. And once again there are the issues with costs of production too. It realkly is quite frustrating to see alternative energy source methods being so costly and I wish there could be more of a focus on subsidizations of such a thing. Once mass production kicks in for anything really, the costs of course reduce dramatically; but there needs to be a kick-start initially so things like this can even GET to a mass production stage. Let us hope and see how far this particular research can go, as it's a very interesting start! Here is a link for another type of biological "battery" that uses mitochondria cells. Mitochondria are - "the power plants of most eukaryotic cells" that can produce electron flows throuh the production of hydrogen ions. (Rough overview! lol) Anyway, this link is the oatent outline for this approach and it's pretty hardcore! I hope it's of interest: http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20080261085 The bottom line is that there are practically unlimited sources of energy we could be investigating and using. All we can hope is that the focus shifts considerably in the coming years and that the mainstream energy suppliers are gradually marginalized ion favour of these alternative approaches. We are long overdue to be embracing alternatives such as these 2 examples.
6 Apr 09
Thanks for sharing the link of the biological battery that uses mitochondria cells. Although it has a lot of technical stuff on it, the article is very interesting. It is time we get economical environment friendly products. And as much as alternatives in power generation are in use today, the batteries would be great product to have as an environment friendly product. It is the costs no doubt which sometimes make them non successful product. Hopefully we shall see some breakthrough on this front pretty soon.
6 Apr 09
Unfortunately it's not just the costs, it's also the aggressive proactivity of lobbyists and major corporations that ride the success and dependency on existing energy sources. Even with just these 2 influences, it becomes very, very hard for the "little guy" to get a break. I often wonder how many unbelievably fantastic alternative energy inventions have never seen the light of day because they either couldn't garner enough financial support, or were shut down quickly by people with self-serving agenda's? I bet there are many instances of this!