12 Surprising Alternative Energies

  • Introduction

    You’ve heard of solar power and wind power. You might even have heard of geothermal energy. These types of alternative energy have been around for years — decades even. But these alternative energy sources are not the only alternative ways to power our lives. Here are 12 surprising sources of alternative alternative energy. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Your Feet
  • Your Feet

    That’s right, your feet could be a power source. Certain materials generate electric energy when mechanical stress is applied. Like the stress applied when you step down on the pavement. This is called piezoelectricity. Special tiles made of suitable materials could be placed on sidewalks and stairs everywhere, providing power. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Your Waste
  • Your Waste

    Human waste is already being considered a viable fuel source. In Norway, there are plans to use sewage to power public buses. The idea is that it's possible to mimic bacterial processes to take advantage of bio-electromechanical systems that generate power. Who knew that poop power could be a reality? Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Bonus Use for Human Waste: Natural Gas
  • Bonus Use for Human Waste: Natural Gas

    San Antonio is working on a plan to harvest methane gas from human waste as a clean burning fuel. It can be used in power plants, and might even become a source of natural gas in other combustion-based generators. In India, some use gases from sewage to power their stoves. Truly, you really can find a number of uses for human waste. Photo Credit: Margot Wolfs
    Algae
  • Algae

    It is possible to transform algae into clean energy that could provide power for our lives. In fact, there are a number of different processes used to capture the energy of the photosynthesis process to power turbines. Carbon dioxide could be captured and fed into the algae to further help the process. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Oilgae
  • Oilgae

    Another use for algae is in biodiesel. It is possible to treat algae in such a way that allows it to be pressed for fuel. This can be turned into biodiesel that can be used to power a number of items, including cars. There are some companies that already have plants producing algae oil for use as fuel. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Helioculture
  • Helioculture

    You know about solar cells as a source of alternative energy, but the sun is more versatile than that. A relatively new process called helioculture uses a process powered by the sun to create fuel directly. The sun powers a process that turns brackish water, nutrients, carbon dioxide and different organisms directly into fuel. Unlike algae, this fuel is ready to use — no treatment necessary. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Power Beamed from Space
  • Power Beamed from Space

    In another example of how the sun could power us, there is talk about possibly collecting solar power from space and then beaming it to Earth. The idea is that solar panels orbiting Earth could collect more light, more efficiently. Then the power could be converted into radio frequency energy, beamed to special receiving stations, and then converted to electricity. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    The Moon
  • The Moon

    We don’t like to think of mining Earth, looking for energy. But what if we could mine on the moon? Some see potential in helium-3 for fusion energy. However, it is hard to find on Earth. But the moon has an abundance of helium-3. A Russian space company is already considering the possibility of mining helium-3 by 2020. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Tides
  • Tides

    The moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth creates the tides. As a result, there are some power plants that take advantage of the way water moves in this manner to create electricity. The idea has been around for a long time, but it still isn’t widely known. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Ocean Vortex
  • Ocean Vortex

    In the ocean, there are swirls of water called eddies. These swirls push and pull objects from side to side and up and down, providing mechanical energy. As the water flows past special rods, the vibrations could be converted into energy. The idea comes from the way fish swim in the ocean. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion
  • Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

    In the ocean, there are major temperature differences between deep water and shallow water. Special barges or platforms in the ocean, which would be used as floating power plants, could actually tap this difference to offer a relatively clean source of energy. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Blue Energy
  • Blue Energy

    Some consider saltwater power a possible source of energy. Sometimes referred to as “blue energy,” there is a process that releases energy when saltwater is added to freshwater. This happens in estuaries around the world naturally, and it is possible that properly constructed power plants could capture this energy. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Evaporation
  • Evaporation

    When water evaporates, there is a small amount of energy generated by the electrical differences between air and water. With the help of properly constructed micro-fabricated “leaves” and a synthetic process involving pumped air bubbles, it might be possible to mimic the natural process that could result in energy. Photo Credit: WikiMedia
    Hot Rock
  • Hot Rock

    If you pump cold saltwater down into Earth, it will be heated by the radioactive elements present in the crust, as well as conduction heat coming from the mantle. The heated water gives off steam, powering a turbine that can provide alternative energy. Photo Credit: Nick Bramhall
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