Earth Day is coming up. It’s that time of year when we all start thinking a bit more about recycling and conserving. There are commercials and ads all over the place reminding us to turn of the facet while we brush our teeth and to recycle the newspaper.
But, there’s more to Earth Day.
Now is when all the kooky and awesome new green technology is unveiled. Here at Vann’s, we thought we would share some of our favorites:
Okay, this first one doesn’t have much to do with technology, but it sure is innovative. Paint the world. Paint the world white. Ever notice how dark the buildings in a city are? They’re dominated with deep blacks, dark grays, and thick reds. Even the asphalt is dark. It creates what some call the “urban heat island” effect. Dark colors absorb heat causing cities to raise five degrees during the day and 22 degrees at night. Cooling a city even a fraction of a degree consumes a ton of energy. But, just by painting streets, buildings, and roofs white, energy consumption is cut down drastically.
There’s a lot of great innovation in producing green energy, and we’re not just talking about solar panels.
One such is the nPower PEG (Personal Energy Generator). This device converts kinetic energy into electricity. By placing the pole vertically in a backpack, purse, or whatever, it generates electricity while you move. You can walk, run, or roll, if that’s what you like, and produce energy. Pretty cool stuff.
The YoGen Charger works in a similar way. This gadget converts kinetic energy into electricity, but it’s geared more for mobile devices. Sure, there are solar powered devices that already do this, but, with those, you’re dependent on the sun and it can take an entire day to fully charge. The YoGen generates power by tugging on a stringed attachment. Once you get it going, it can charge your mobile device in a matter of minutes.
A small device called a thermocouple endeavors to turn excess body heat into electricity. By placing a conductive between a hot zone, your body, and a cool zone, the air, a charge is produced. The idea is to harvest that energy and use it to power electronics. In fact, the Defense Department is researching ways to implement soldiers with thermocouple vital sign monitors.
Others have looked to algae to produce energy. The green plant not only eats up sunlight and carbon dioxide, it also produces an oil that can be refined for cars and planes. And, there are a lot of benefits to cultivating algae. For example, it can grow on dry land and salt water. This means that it wouldn’t take up land that could go to growing produce.
Water has long been used as an energy source, think of dams. But, now, scientists are looking into exploiting another aspect: ocean waves. Researchers are inventing new ways to turn waves into electricity. One such tool is “the duck.” It rolls back and forth with the force of the waves, harnessing energy. By 2025, the plan is to produce 500 megawatts using wave technology. That’s enough to power 200,000 homes.
That’s not all water has to offer. An MIT professor has discovered an inexpensive way to split water into its hydrogen and oxygen components. With the proper mechanisms, both elements can be used to create energy. Imagine a world where your home is powered by solar panels during the day, and powered by hydrogen and oxygen atoms by night.
Also from MIT, there’s another unexpected energy source: the floor. Two students created what they call a “piezoelectric floor.” It expands and stretches with each step, and captures the emission of energy. With flooring like that in your house, it probably wouldn’t be enough to power your home. But, it has nearly unlimited potential in locations with high foot traffic like subway stations or shopping malls.
Of course, there’s a lot of great green tech coming out that’s not focused on new ways of generating power.
There’s the Mobile Script. This slender phone has completely rethought how we can use a mobile device. It has two touch screens: one on the front display and an extendable OLED screen. Not only is the new screen a technological innovation, so is its power source. The phone is coated with a photosensitive material that harnesses sunlight as energy.
The Mechanical Mobile Spin Finger Phone uses another form of energy. By spinning the phone around your finger, it converts centrifugal force into electricity and charges your phone. Simple and elegant.
Some of these technological innovations are still years away from being on the shelves and installed in our homes. Still, it’s exciting to have a taste of the green technology that’s being built out there.