Top 5 most unusual ways to generate power

We’ve been combing the web for the last four months to bring you the latest in alternative energy and green living ideas.   Some of the energy generating sources we’ve come across are pretty ingenious and deserving of a second look.  So, today we present you the top 5 list of the most unusual ways to create power.

Roads help heat buildings

In Holland a company called Ooms Avenhorn Groep bv broke new and unusual ground in generating energy.  Their really innovative idea is called Road Energy Systems, and yes, you guessed it – it generates energy out of roads.

Everybody knows how hot asphalt concrete can get because of its large heat-absorbing capacity.  This company is the first in the world to extract energy from asphalt concrete.

How does it work?  It’s so simple that you may ask yourself why it wasn’t discovered earlier.

In the layers of asphalt concrete runs a system of pipes connected to underground storage areas.  The heated water is either stored in these areas for later use or conducted directly into buildings to support their heating system.  The cooled water is stored in another area to be reused for cooling the buildings in summer.

This system isn’t only providing heating/cooling energy for buildings but also for the roads themselves.  In winter the hot water keeps the roads ice free.

The advantages are measurable.  road energy reduces electricity use,  lowers road maintenance and deicing requirements and cuts the carbon emissions by 50%.

An innovative idea like this should spread quickly around the globe.

Electricity created from human effort

We write about all sorts of ways to generate power with alternative technologies such as wind, solar and water.  But electricity can also be created with humaneffort such as riding a bicycle.  There were news stories of how a remote village in Laos, without electricity, hooked up to the Internet thanks to a bicycle-powered computer.

What if you could generate power with a bicycle and keep yourself fit at the same time?  Would you be interested?   Well, bicycle-generated power can be employed today for use in your own home.  Pedal-A-Watt bicycle was initially developed for generating power for small appliances but also for charging a battery in order that the power can be used later.

I was surprised to discover that an average rider can produce between 125 and 200 watts of power.  That may not sound like a lot, but the appliances you can power with your generated watts are quite numerous.  What could you power with your two hundred watts of bicycle power?

  • 2 Small TV’s
  • 1 Big Screen TV
  • 20 Laptop Computers
  • 3 Desktop Computers
  • 10 Home Stereos
  • About 40 cellphone chargers

The Pedal-A-Watt bicycle kit provides all the accessories you need to produce energy by riding your bicycle. 

While there are many ways to produce energy, this has got to be one of the most unconventional ways we’ve discovered.   Keeping fit, being green and saving money, sounds like a great combination to us!

Geothermal power by heat-producing elements

Geo-scientist Dr Sandra McLaren reported recently about the possibility for Australia to use geothermal power.  This geothermal power is provided by heat-producing elements under the surface of the continent.

There are enriched elements such as uranium, thorium and potassium which generate extremely high temperatures under the crust of earth. 

If you think of nuclear power when you hear uranium, you’re right.  The difference between nuclear and geothermal power is the degree to which uranium is enriched.  Underneath Australia the uranium is 2-3 times more enriched than average concentrations.

This geothermal power is considered to be in unlimited amounts, a great promise for the whole country.  The big challenge for Australia is to learn how to use this extraordinary resource for generating power.  There is a lot of work to be done.

We’ll keep an eye on this exciting new development.

Giant snake creates wave power

Just the sight of a snake makes most people nervous.  In this case you can be calm, this giant rubber snake is an innovative new way to generate power.

In another post I wrote about the Tapered Channel method of funneling waves to create energy.  This system and others have the disadvantage that their production and maintenance are expensive.

The giant snake called Anaconda doesn’t have this problems.  It’s a long rubber tube filled completely with water and both ends closed.

The Anaconda creates energy through bulge waves running along the tube as it’s squeezed by the outside waves.  Unfortunately it is still in development.  An Anaconda with 7 meter in diameter and 150 meter long would collect an average power of about one megawatt per year.

Take a look at this interesting video showing how the Anaconda works.

Solar Islands

The object in the picture may look like a UFO but it’s actually a concept created by the Swiss Company CSEM.  The Centre Suisse d’Electronique et Microtechnique is developing a new concept for a large-scale transformation of solar energy into hydrogen and electricity.  The goal is to create very low cost energy for homes and business.  The name of this concept is “Solar Islands”.

The plan is to build Solar Islands floating in the sea.  These islands will be equipped with solar panels.  CSEM has already built a prototype in the desert of the United Arab Emirates.

Solar Islands are an interesting solution for all countries with large coastlines.  CSEM plans to rollout the Solar Islands product in 2011. 

That’s our top 5 list!  Let us know if you’ve discovered another alternative energy worthy of adding to this illustrious group.

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