6 Unusual Renewable Energy Sources That Are Actually Genius

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Solar panels and wind turbines are your parents’ renewable energy sources. Sure, they’re sustainable and globally accessible, but are they fun? Are they exciting? Modern society is all about finding innovative and creative solutions to mundane problems, and this Sunco Blogger thinks that our search for sustainable energy sources has gone stale. Where’s the pizazz?  

Renewable energy used to seem futuristic, but now it's so commonplace that I can feel myself scraping the bottom of the barrel for something more unique than wind farms. In a frenzy of curiosity and wonderment, I took it upon myself to figure out some of the weirdest ways that we could generate reusable and sustainable energy that you may not have known existed.

Chopping Onions

 

Scientists have discovered that onions have another function besides making us cry. When onions are chopped and squeezed, their juices can be converted into methane, which can be used to generate electricity. Interestingly enough, the use of methane gas from onions into electricity is something that is being put into practice by an onion wholesaler in California. They squeeze the onions, feed the juice to the microbes, and use the methane that the microbes excrete to run a fuel cell that makes electricity.  The wholesaler says that they are saving more than half a million dollars on their energy bills by using this technique. 

You probably couldn’t chop or squeeze enough onions to power anything significant at home, but on a large scale, using the methane that the onion-based microbes excrete can generate quite a lot of offset for other energy sources. This year alone, the California onion wholesaler expects to save $700,000 on power bills and $400,000 on trucking costs. (They even sell the squeezed-out onion pulp, as a high-quality cattle food.)

 

Clapping 

 

Every time we clap our hands, we convert kinetic and mechanical energy into sound energy. This occurs as the palms get closer and the air between them gets compressed. While this energy might not be enough to power anything significant yet, scientists are currently working on ways in which we can turn sound energy into a renewable source.  

Imagine powering your lights while playing paddy cake or singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. This alone would slash the cost of daycare significantly. So long as you don’t mind singing the same song a hundred times in a row. 

 

Jellyfish 

 

Bioluminescent jellyfish contain the necessary ingredients for developing a new type of battery. Scientists have discovered that the fluorescent protein in this animal can be used to generate solar energy in a more sustainable way than current photovoltaic energy. Energy is created in a process that involves converting the jellyfish’s fluorescent protein into a solar cell that can generate energy and transfer it to small devices. 

A team at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, placed a droplet of GFP on aluminum electrodes and then exposed it to ultraviolet light, allowing the protein to release electrons. These proteins have been used to make a biological fuel cell, which produces electricity without an external power source. 

 

Dance Party 

 

Kinetic tiles are being installed on dance floors at nightclubs so that when guests dance, their movement can produce enough electricity to keep the lights on and the music playing. In fact, this technology is currently being developed so that kinetic energy generators may be positioned in other public areas, including roads and playgrounds.  

Some countries are already utilizing this, though they are rolling it out slowly, as it can be quite expensive. Pavegen is a smart flooring technology that transforms footsteps into electrical energy, data, and rewards, such as financial rebates. The company, based in London, shows off their cool technology at AI conventions, car dealerships, and stadiums where they host “stepping contests” which help to generate power in real time. 

 

Rub Some Metal Together by Texting 

 

Okay, so the fancy term for it is piezoelectricity, which describes the way some metals generate electricity when hit. This is the idea behind the Push-to-Charge cell phone. These devices have plastic buttons sitting on top of a layer of hard metal. The bottom-most layer would be made out of piezoelectric crystals, so that each time you pressed a button, the hard metal directly underneath it would hit the underlying crystal like a hammer, creating a small amount of voltage. Small wires located between the layers would convey the charge to a battery for storage.   

The electricity generated by hitting just one button would be minuscule (about 0.5 watts), according to the inventor. But when you add up all the buttons required to send a single text message and multiply that by the number of text messages sent each day, that's quite a lot of wattage. 

 

Static  

When you walk across a carpeted floor in socks, you are generating static electricity. We all probably know this, as I’m sure you, like myself, have gotten a shock from touching a doorknob at grandma’s wall-to-wall carpeted house. The voltage generated from this greatly depends on your clothes and surprisingly your size so there isn’t a super accurate way to calculate this. 

However, the rule of thumb for the maximum energy a person can accumulate in static charges and then discharge is 250 millijoules, which isn’t much on its own. But if you statically charge a balloon by rubbing it on your hair, you can press the base of a light bulb to the surface of the balloon to illuminate the bulb. Is it a practical source of renewable energy? Probably not. But I’m sure, if need be, we could find a way to make it work. Perhaps instead of paying $45 for a haircut, salons could take payment in the form of balloon time before your appointment.  

 

Why Renewable Energy is Important  

 

These weird and unique renewable energy sources are valuable as the world transitions from fossil fuels to more sustainable alternatives. Not only do they provide diverse solutions to the population's growing energy needs, but they help to reduce dependence on any single source. This diversification is essential in mitigating the risks associated with supply disruptions or technological failures that might occur if we rely too heavily on conventional renewables like solar and wind power. 

Unique renewable energy sources often tap into previously overlooked or wasted energy potentials, increasing overall efficiency and reducing environmental impact. For instance, generating energy from human activity or industrial waste not only produces clean energy but also addresses waste management issues, creating a dual benefit for the environment. 

2 comments

  • Posted on by Dan

    Control the jellyfish…control the world.

  • Posted on by Priyank
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