Top “Green Energy” Inventions of 2010
TIME Magazine has just revealed 50 top innovations of 2010. These include inventions spanning across several categories including that of
- Health and Medicine
- Green Energy
- Robots and Software
- Expert Picks
This article highlights the best green energy inventions of 2010. I found them to be fascinating but still am slightly hesitant about whether or not they are truly “green”. Nevertheless, here they are…
1. Deep Green Underwater Kite
The turbine, known as “Deep Green” was developed by a privately-owned Swedish/UK company, Minesto, and is intended to be tethered 100 meters above the sea bottom. It has a wingspan of 12 meters and a turbine one meter in diameter. The “kite” comprises a wing with a rudder to steer the turbine to face in the direction that will allow it to capture the maximum amount of tidal energy, and generate up to 500 kW of electricity. The kite flies in a figure eight and travels 10 times faster than the water it is tethered in. (Physorg.com)
2. Body Powered Devices
Forbes called this “breakthrough technology” which would convert body heat into electricity and it involves the use of nano-technology (more here). Also, check out this interesting invention – Dancefloor Power
Time’s Eben Harrell reports that everything we do generates power — about 1 watt per breath, 70 watts per step. This year, Michael McAlpine of Princeton University and colleagues figured out how to turn locomotion into power by embedding piezoelectric crystals into a flexible, biocompatible rubberlike material that, when bent, allows the crystals to produce energy. Put the crystals in shoes, say, or implant them directly into the body and they could produce enough power to charge personal electronics or internal medical devices.
Elsewhere, telecommunications provider Orange introduced a prototype of Orange Power Wellies — rubber boots that convert heat into current. Campers at Britain’s Glastonbury Festival were the first to demo the footwear. (With the current model, it takes 12 hours of walking to charge a cell phone for an hour.)
Of course, if you assemble enough people in a tight space, they don’t even need to move to generate energy: in Paris, engineers have captured the warmth generated by bodies on the Métro subway to heat a public-housing project on Rue Beaubourg. By 2011, the Métro heating system will cut carbon dioxide emissions from the housing project’s heating system by a third.
3. Power Aware Cord
Time’s Bryan Walsh reports that inventors have tried to use hydrogen fuel cells as a cleaner way to create commercial electricity, but they’ve always been limited by the cost. That’s beginning to change, however, thanks to a California start-up called Bloom Energy. Its Bloom Box — about half the size of a shipping container — generates electricity using solid oxide fuel cells, which provide juice by oxidizing a fuel source. In the case of the Bloom Box, that fuel source is natural gas, though the company hopes to substitute cleaner sources in the future. Silicon Valley companies like Google and eBay are already using Bloom Boxes for greener backup power, at a cost of about $800,000 each (more here).
5. The (Almost) Waterless Washing Machine
The Xeros process, invented by Stephen Burkinshaw, uses one cup of water, detergent and 20 kg (or 44.092 lb) of plastic chips per load. The plastic chips supposedly do most of the work by removing and absorbing dirt and even stains.
A typical washing machine uses about 35 kilograms of water for every kilogram of clothes, in addition to the power needed to heat the water and dry the clothes. The UK is set to give the waterless washing machine a go some time soon, and aims to reduce power and water used in the country. Pretty neat if you ask me!