Unlikely Energy Sources: How an Inquisitive Approach to New Sources of Energy is What We Need Right Now

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Alternate energy sources are disguising themselves in all matters of objects and techniques, and it’s our (humanity’s) job to discover them. With resources becoming scarcer, the world’s great minds are consistently dreaming up new renewable and sustainable energy methods. We’ve highlighted some of the latest energy breakthroughs, which we find unusual but indicative of the resourcefulness abounding in the sector now.

What if I told you that you could dance or walk yourself to a fully lit home? It sounds a little out there but in an article entitled “Energy generated from footsteps can power India’s green revolution – study” published on Smart Energy International, Nicholas Nhede wrote about how walking could be the right alternative renewable energy source for India. In a country still relying on coal, India will soon have double the current demand by 2040. The government will soon need to find alternative ways of outsourcing power. “Part of the solution could come from harvesting energy from footsteps, say Hari Anand and Binod Kumar Singh from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun, India. Their new study, published in the De Gruyter journal Energy Harvesting and Systems, shows that Indian attitudes towards power generated through piezoelectric tiles are overwhelmingly positive.” This particular article zeroes in on home energy for the masses, but it need not stop there. Perhaps this sort of technology could advance to other areas, including corporate use, but back to the article, “As the efficiency and durability of piezoelectric tiles improve and as the need for green solutions becomes more urgent, the researchers predict that this type of energy production will experience a boom on the green energy market.” If this technology does gain popularity and continues to show promise, perhaps other countries will follow suit. Perhaps.  

Next on the list of quirky energy resources is the exoskeleton of shrimp developed for batteries. In an article entitled “Shrimp Shells to Produce Electrodes for Large Storage Batteries” published on Advanced Batteries and Energy Storage Research (source: SINC, the author not listed), it was discovered somehow that shrimp shells could be used for electrodes for vanadium flow batteries by MIT Spanish researchers. Specifically, “the electrodes are made from chitin, a polysaccharide found in the exoskeleton of crustaceans and insects.” The researchers stated that electrodes made from this source are renewable and that “the advantage of this component is that it contains nitrogen in addition to carbon, which is then incorporated into the structure of the electron during the production process, improving electrode’s performance.”

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If shrimp shells can produce electrodes, what next, using the energy currents from black holes? Well, yes, actually. In an article titled “Can we harness energy from black holes?” published on phys.org and written by Carla Cantor stated, “A remarkable prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity—the theory that connects space, time, and gravity—is that rotating black holes have enormous amounts of energy available to be tapped.” But how does one derive power from such a source? Many scientists have tried to theorize the answer to this conundrum without much success, but a new theory may have the answer. “Now, in a study published in the journal Physical Review D, physicists Luca Comisso from Columbia University and Felipe Asenjo from Universidad Adolfo Ibanez in Chile, found a new way to extract energy from black holes by breaking and re-joining magnetic field lines near the event horizon, the point from which nothing, not even light, can escape the black hole’s gravitational pull.” Based on what Comisso and Asenjo have put forward, this could be the procedure used to extract power from this unlikely source, and it could be facilitated soon-ish instead of light-years away. However, it’s likely to take more study to actualize this hypothesis.

Inventiveness and ingenuity are what the planet will need to survive with the ever-expanding population and the extreme weather patterns getting worse year by year. But perhaps ideas like these prove that it is possible to extend the life of the earth or, if not, maybe at least make an effort to offset the pressure humans have put on the planet already. After reading the above, anything is possible.

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