Daniel Halliday
May 6 · Last update 16 days ago.

What are the most exciting alternative energy breakthroughs?

Any revolution in our use of energy has got to be the most exciting area in human development, as the fight against climate change will have to come from innovation in how energy is generated, used and stored. What are some of the most exciting breakthroughs in alternative energy technology? What has the greatest potential to help us in tackling climate change?
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Using fracking techniques to improve geothermal technologies
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Generate electricity from temperature fluctuations
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Using plastics to make liquid fuel
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Using solar power to make hydrogen
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Using fracking techniques to improve geothermal technologies

Fervo Energy is a technology startup from Berkeley, California, who are looking to employ hydraulic fracking methods to improve the geothermal power industry, making it able to produce a larger amount of renewable carbon-neutral electricity. Geothermal energy generators are a much more constant and stable source of clean energy, compared to solar and wind farms that rely on the right weather conditions, such methods may allow many more power plants to utilise the underlying heat of the planet. Breakthroughs such as this are so promising Fervo Energy has gained investment from the Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion investment fund aimed at boosting cutting edge innovation in order to bring such innovation to the market faster.

technologyreview.com/s/612200/bill-gates-has-added-a-geothermal-startup-to-his-clean-energy-funds-first-bets b-t.energy/ventures

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Daniel Halliday
Sep 28
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Generate electricity from temperature fluctuations

A team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a novel way of using thermoelectrical devices to generate electricity from background temperature fluctuations. They have called the newly developed system a thermal resonator, and while it may not produce a large amount of energy it may have a wide scale of applications for remote sensing systems that currently need batteries or an outside energy source to function, helping climate and weather monitoring technologies moving forward. The designers have described this solution as “an untapped source of energy” that can “generate energy out of what seems like nothing” [1], using tiny fluctuations in temperature that are happening constantly. As such fluctuations occur both on Earth and other planets it is also thought that this invention could providing low-power, long-lasting energy sources for landers or rovers making it easier to explore remote locations, including other planets, moons and asteroids.

[1] oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/MITs-Miracle-Energy-Breakthrough.html

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Daniel Halliday
Sep 27
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Using plastics to make liquid fuel

Plastics are one of the most common forms of physical pollution, as they degrade so slowly and are massively widespread due to 95% of plastics that are thrown away after a single use, combined with decades of destructive landfill dumping and burying as a means of disposal. However this might change as scientists have recently discovered a method of converting plastic back into a liquid petroleum substance that they were originally made from. The method involves heating shredded plastics with carbon to very high temperatures to facilitate the breakdown of the plastics into a fuel. If this method can be industrialised it might give greater value to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that end up in the world oceans every year, giving not only a method for recycling but a economic incentive if fuel can be generated.

sciencealert.com/scientists-just-turned-plastic-bottles-and-bags-into-liquid-fuel phys.org/news/2019-06-group-plastic-products-jet-fuel.html

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Daniel Halliday
Jun 10
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Using solar power to make hydrogen

While utilising solar energy has been previously limited by the efficiency of batteries, and is somewhat still limited by their physical weight, hydrogen has often seemed another clean fuel alternative and now solar energy may be able to turn salt water into hydrogen for fuel as well. This process utilises the age old method of electrolysis, but uses solar energy from photovoltaic cells to power the process and causes a reaction in water to release pure hydrogen and oxygen. However the contacts, or electrodes, in the water suffer from corrosion and the reaction in this method is short-lived without constant electrode replacement. What has been discovered by researchers at Stanford University in the United States is that if one conductive electrode is coated with negatively charged particles corrosion is slowed and electrodes last hundreds of times longer. This could not only help current electrolyser systems become more efficient, but could help develop new hydrogen fuel innovations such a hydrogen vehicles, and could even be used as a passive oxygen production method to combat climate change and ocean acidification directly.

sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190318151726.htm

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Daniel Halliday
May 6
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