Top 9 Alternative Energy Inventions 2017

The advancement of technology helped us develop a lot of innovative inventions. Now, we have the possibility to give up on using fossil fuels and implement renewable energy. Renewable energy is much more efficient than fossil fuels in the sense that we can use those energy sources without them going to waste.

The ARPA-E has various projects that promise to revolutionize the use of renewable energy. Some of them may seem really bold, while others may cross the line, appearing as crazy. Nevertheless, if these innovative ideas would turn into alternative energy inventions at some point, they will certainly contribute to the diminishing effect of climate change. They could change the way we store, generate and use energy. In what follows, we will provide a list of the most exquisite alternative energy inventions and ideas of 2017.

1.Squid skin-inspired materials

All cephalopods, including cuttlefish, octopus and squid, feature skin which can easily change their pattern or color. They use it for camouflage when they fight predators, feed, mate or hide. ARPA-E also has a project that implies developing squid skin-inspired materials. The project is developed with the collaboration of the fitness brand Under Armour, Irvine researchers and the University of California.

Their goal is to find out the mechanism through which squids change the appearance of their skin and then try to reproduce it. The fitness brand would try to develop devices and clothes which can cool or heat on demand. These types of materials can have a crucial impact on the energy efficiency. Specialists may also implement them in power plants and buildings, as energy users.

2.Deeper plant roots

The ARPA-E has an upcoming project that focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by engineering plants and modifying their genetics. Specialists would also want to implement sensors and use massive data in agriculture. The program director, Joe Cornelius, wants to develop a plan to improve the crops, helping them develop deeper roots to survive climate change.

Deeper roots would help plants better use nitrogen and trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Furthermore, the plan is to also enhance the overall soil quality. The project director indicated that the most useful tool which they use to analyze the genetics and properties of roots is a shovel.

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3.Fabric wind blades

One of the biggest developers of massive wind turbines, GE, is trying to develop fabric wind blades for their gigantic wind turbines. At the moment, all their wind blades are made of fiberglass, being pretty heavy and difficult to transport. Furthermore, it is difficult for the company to install them since they weight a lot and they are very large.

Developing lighter and more compact wind blades will help the company save up money on transportation and shipping costs. Furthermore, they will also manage to diminish greenhouse gas emissions since the transportation they use would be more reduced.

4.Robots for better plant breeding

In 2015, ARPA-E announced a program that will allocate about $30 million for six projects which use robotics to offer help to plant breeders. The main goal is to develop better crops, using them for biofuels. Most research developed about genetics for biofuel crops has been developed manually by specialists. They walk around the fields and establish the characteristics of plants.

Nevertheless, the advancement of technology helped scientists at Texas A & M, Pacific Northwest National Labs, and Purdue University to develop robots and fly drones. They analyze plants, using sensors to collect data about their characteristics.

An electric kite

An energy kite could become another source of energy if Makani’s project proves to be doable.

5.The production of seaweed

A director at ARPA-E intends to develop a program that could harvest macroalgae. The purpose here is to produce seaweed to be able to feed large populations efficiently.

6.Microbes which transform methane into fuel

Scientists want to develop methods to turn methane into biofuel. We know that methane represents the main ingredient in natural gas. MOgene is a company which engineers a microbe which transforms methane into a liquid fuel via photosynthesis. However, ARPA-E also has numerous other projects which try to do the same thing, working to turn methane into other energy sources.

7.3D printed cars

This may be one of the craziest ideas,  but starting from 2015, Local Motors revealed a car which has been developed through 3D printing or additive manufacturing. Local Motors decided to use a massive printer, replacing the classical way of developing cars via metal stamping. The company used a material made of carbon fiber and plastic. Hence, they managed to print out approximately 75% of a car. If this type of process proves to be useful, developing a whole car via 3D printing, then specialists would use less energy. Furthermore, the car would be lighter.

8.Tidal turbines which are self-adjusting

Scientists at Brown University are trying to develop a device which can be used for tides and rivers to produce electricity. However, scientists involved in the ARPA-E program want to develop a tool that intends to be different from other tidal turbines. They added an onboard computer to their device, allowing it to offer a real-time response to its environment. Hence, the turbine would be more efficient, being able to generate more power.

9.High-altitude wind

Google own Makani, which is part of the ARPA-E program. The main premise is that winds are stronger higher up in the sky. However, the company did not prove anything commercially, but they are working on it. Makani wants to launch an energy kite on a long tether. The idea is to see the kite rotating on the tether across the sky.

Summing up

All these incredible alternative energy inventions and eco-friendly ideas could help us stop climate change if they were to become a reality. Scientists come up with fresh ideas to alter and engineer current practices to improve renewable energy. We could use our natural resources more efficiently, and we should try to do it through these experiments.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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