Solar, wind and hydropower are in the news everyday now. What seemed unusual in the past is mainstream today, and the following forms of energy may reach the same level of ubiquity in society one day.
However, to the modern ear, the following list of energy sources will sound very strange indeed. Here are the seven weirdest alternative forms of energy:
1. The Power of Human Activity
Anytime a person exercises, the movement creates a small amount of energy. By harnessing this energy from everyone exercising, it can add up quickly. Some gyms have already harnessed this power, using treadmills with generators that create energy from the motion, and can create about 50W a person. Pedal-A-Watt uses the same idea, and can generate 150-500W an hour. It even has a battery pack that can be charged while cycling.
2. Push Power
Push to Charge was a concept that first surfaced in 2008. It can charge cell phones with piezoelectricity, which is electricity generated when certain metals are touched. Push to Charge uses piezoelectric materials to make electricity from typing on a smartphone screen.
Cows emit a lot of methane, which is a very powerful greenhouse gas. It would be much better to convert it to biogas, as company BioEnergy Solutions does.
4. E. Coli
This alternative form of energy relies on harmless strains of E. Coli, which can be manipulated to turn agricultural waste into a fuel that only has to be minimally processed.
Ships need lots of fossil fuels to travel across the ocean, but with kites attached to propel the ship forward, they could cut fossil fuel use by 25%.
6. Coffee Grounds
Researchers have discovered that coffee contains up to 20% oil, and could be used to make biodiesel. The oil made from coffee is stable when exposed to oxygen, so it will be healthy for cars, too. If all coffee grounds could be converted this way, it would create 2.9 million gallons of biodiesel every year.
7. Mirrors… in Space!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed an alternative form of energy that uses reflective balloons to collect solar energy and transmit it back to Earth. The balloons will be able to deflate and inflate according to their position and the angle of the sun in order to maximize exposure.