A simple man’s definition of global warming would be: the process of pollutants such as soot and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane trapping the Sun’s heat within Earth’s atmosphere. Followed by a rise in the global average temperature, changes in weather patterns, weather events becoming extreme, ice caps melting and sea levels rising.
Global warming has adverse effect on the environment, at time the effects leading to socio-economic sabotage of nations, not to mention its toll on the natural ecosystem for wildlife. Today we share with you some innovative solutions American students are working on, in the fight against global warming. The following are some six student-led innovations that present creative ways in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating more green energy:
- KAir Battery:A team of innovators from Ohio State University has come up with what is probably the coolest fruit-powered battery. The KAir battery works by using the Potassium element found in bananas, as one-half of the 98% energy efficient battery. Potassium (K) makes up the anode (negative) side of the battery. While the diode (positive) side of the battery is made up of a porous, oxygen-rich carbon that sucks Oxygen (O2) from the air to react with K to make up the potassium oxide (KO2) compound.
When the KAir battery gets charged, the formed KO2 compound disintegrates to its original elements thus what was lost during usage is restored. The process makes the KAir battery not only very energy efficient source of power, but also a source of power made out of non-toxic materials that are cheaper and easier to obtain compared to other commonly used batteries.
- REECycle – Recycles Scarce Earth Elements. Our dependence on fossil fuels is insatiable. But one innovation dubbed REECycle, developed by a team of students from the University of Houston might make fuelling cleaner and give us a break from dependence on oil, coal and natural gas.
Green energy producing, wind turbines and electric motors are manufactured using on neomagnets made from dysprosium and neodymium. These two elements are rare earth elements (REE), which are not only difficult to find, but also quite dangerous to mine.
REECycle have devised a way to reclaim these elements from used electronics. The team obtains copper plating from used electronics, then dissolves them in a solvent, throws away the leftovers and filters the REE and sell them to manufacturers at a profit.
The benefit of it is that, it reduces the need to mine fresh REEs, and it’s easier and cheaper to the manufacturers of generators and wind turbines. In the long run, driving down the cost for machinery essential in the generation of green energy such as wind.
- Energy Internet: Distributing energy through a decentralized network. This innovation is different from the rest in that it changes how we get energy, not how we use energy. The idea was developed by a team of innovators from Georgia Institute of Technology they want to change the model of energy distribution to resemble the internet. Through a decentralized network of networks as opposed to the hierarchical transportation system that is currently being used.
The new approach would allow energy producers and consumers to receive and send just enough energy that satisfy their needs. Also, it will make it easier for renewable sources of energy to be integrated into the grid while reducing the need for a high amount of energy productions. In the long run this will curb emission of greenhouse gases while shifting a lot of the energy production load towards green energy producers.
- California Wave Power Technologies: If you have been to the beach, and have been unlucky enough to be thrashed by the ocean waves, you probably know just how powerful ocean waves can be. Employing that same concept, a team of professors from the University of California, Berkeley created the Flexible Seabed Carpet. A carpet that can harness the ocean’s immense power and manipulate it to create hydraulic pressure.
The carpet, fitted with double-acting pumps, moves in rhythm with the ocean waves, and as it does so, it compresses the pumps that send hydraulic pressure through a series of pipes connected to an offshore power plant. The pressure from the pipes can be used to turn turbines and generators to produce electricity.
The energy produced by the carpet is incredibly dense; according to the team’s calculations, about ten meters of the carpet on an ocean floor produces the same amount of energy as a soccer-field fitted with solar panels.
- myPower: Exercise To Charge Your Phone: The concept employed here, is like killing two birds with one stone. You get to exercise and improve your health and while at it you produce green energy to re-charge your phone. A team of students from Northwestern University has developed a device that can manipulate the kinetic energy you produce while walking, jogging, running or riding a bike, to charge your phone.
According to the team, 10,000 steps, or a 45 minute run or a 60 minute bike ride can produce enough energy to charge your phone to last for six hours. While walking can give it a charge lasting three hours.
- Meter Genius: Unlike your electricity company, that only tells you how much energy you have consumed in your home, Meter Genius tracks your energy consumption in real-time and gives you tips on how to save on energy consumption based on how you use energy. Meter Genius was developed by a team of students from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, in partnership with graduate and doctoral students from the university’s Engineering School.
Meter Genius also gives you incentives to save energy consumption other than just saving your money; it enables you to compare your home’s consumption with that of your neighbours turning it into a sort of competition on who will use less in the neighbourhood.
Should that not be particularly appealing to you, you still get to earn reward points that your electricity company can redeem as discounts on your monthly electric bill. The only disadvantage of this innovation is that it only applies to US homes that are supplied by retail suppliers operating in deregulated districts, which are only 16 states.