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The Craziest Energy Sources You Never Knew About

Alternative energy sources are increasing in popularity because research shows, and people are starting to agree, that we can’t keep taking from the earth like we have been for centuries without serious consequences. The results are already starting to surface. This is why we need to do everything we can to try to preserve our earth for future generations.

What makes alternative energy sources viable is because they are sustainable–meaning, they can be replenished daily. In addition, they help to reduce greenhouse emissions, which many believe is responsible for climate change. Plus, the help enhance our energy security. When we’re less reliant on fossil fuels, we become less affected by ups and downs of the market and influences in the changing political landscape.

In terms of supply and demand, they can offer more financial stability for the consumer. Moreover, they can create new industries. And, another important factor, they can save you money. You might have to make an initial investment, but that can pay for itself over time. If you use the wind or the sun–that is essentially free. Yet, there are still more sources of energy. Here are some of the craziest energy sources you never knew about:

Urine

Yes, you read right. Some people look to urine in extreme situations such as dehydration or splashing it on a jellyfish bite. Now, there seems to be another use–alternative energy. Does this mean we can pee into our heating units? Not exactly. Researchers are developing microbial fuel cells (MFCs) to use specialized bacteria that breaks down waste products. This energy can be stored for future use. Since urine has nitrogen, chloride, urea, potassium and bilirubin, it makes it a good candidate for microbial fuel cells.

Exploding lakes

You should not put a visit to an exploding lake on your bucket list. The reason is when they explode, they unleash huge clouds of concentrated carbon dioxide that will instantly suffocate anyone nearby. They are called exploding lakes since they have massive reservoirs of methane and carbon dioxide.

If the temperature changes, the gases fizz to the surface and can kill millions of people. This actually happened on August 15, 1984 at Cameroon’s Lake Nyos. Although, the government has built a power plant that sucks up the noxious gases to power three huge generators and produces 3.6 megawatts of electricity.

Algae fuel

Certain types of algae, such as cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and diatoms, can be cultivated to produce biodiesel and biogasoline. The only issue, right now, is it takes more energy to produce the fuel than what comes out. Still, with technological advances–that could change. Plus, algae byproducts can be used in animal feed. As a result, there is more corn and grain left for human consumption.

Body heat

Jernhusen, a transportation real estate company in Sweden is using energy from the body heat created by the quarter million commuters who travel through Stockholm Central Station every day. What happens is heat exchangers in the Central Station’s ventilation system covert excess body heat into hot water. It then gets sent to the heating system to keep it warm.

As a result, the building’s energy costs are down 25%. In addition,  U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory created a body heat energy-harnessing jacket using silicon nanowire technology. This means you can use your body heat to charge cellphones and other electronic devices. So, go ahead and break a sweat!

Jellyfish

Have you ever eaten a jellyfish? I haven’t. Ever seen one? They’re quite beautiful. Especially the ones that glow in the dark. Well, it seems their glow is powered by a green fluorescent protein called GFP. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden placed a drop of GFP onto aluminum electrodes and then exposed that to ultraviolet light.

Their released electrons traveled through a circuit to produce electricity. These proteins have also been used to make electricity without an external light source in terms of a biological fuel cell. Chemicals such as magnesium and luciferase enzymes mix to produce electricity. It appears it can be used in nano devices implanted in people to help treat and manage diseases.

Rain

Who doesn’t love the soothing sound of a soft rain? While, it may not produce large scale results, rainy climates can produce energy where solar power isn’t an efficient option. With enough rainfall, it can produce several watts to kilowatts of power each year. It could possibly be used to power appliances.

Adult diapers

As the baby boomers continue to get into retirement, many will be utilizing adult diapers. Look, the aging process happens to all of us. Well, instead of just burning used adult diapers, a company called Super Faiths is using the SFD Recycle System to pulverize and sterilize adult used diapers. They are then converted into pellets that can fuel large biomass boilers.

Sugar

These crystals can power more than just our personal energy levels. Diego del Castillo Negrete, a senior research scientist in the Fusion Energy Division at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory said, “We should not dismiss ideas, we should let people pursue ideas of unusual things.” Well, chemists and researches  at Virginia Tech are developing a way to convert sugar into hydrogen.

They are combining plant sugars, water and 13 powerful enzymes into a reactor. The result is hydrogen with small amounts of carbon dioxide. By pumping it through a fuel cell to produce energy, it delivers three time more hydrogen than traditional methods.

Cow flatulence

Who wants this job? Well, Argentine scientists have found that a single 1,210 lb (550 kg) cow produces 28 to 35 cubic feet (800 to 1,000 liters) of methane emissions each day. The good news is methane gas burns quite nicely. So, if we can collect it, we can use it as fuel.

In a perfect world, we’d have a multitude of alternative energy sources immediately available for use—at budget-friendly prices. Well, we’re heading in that direction. It may take a few decades, but it is possible we may not even have to touch fossil fuels ever again.

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