Energy Insight: Five Student Technologies for Harnessing New Energy Sources

There’s no denying we are in an energy crisis. Our future must contain new, advanced methods of harnessing energy and electricity from sources other than those currently in use. Nuclear power plants are unstable, and oil-based energy is limited, dirty, and (unfortunately) managed by corrupted corporate interests. However, researchers from all over the world are actively searching for new ways of harnessing energy from alternative sources. Some of these methods already exist, and are being improved through continual research. Others are merely in their development phases.

Molecules that Harness Solar Energy
Chemists working at the University of Copenhagen have been experimenting with a new molecule capable of harvesting solar energy. The goal is to synthesize a version of this miracle molecule and make it capable of storing the energy for extended periods and releasing it on demand. While still in its infancy, this technology would be revolutionary in the renewable energy industry.

Solar Winds
Solar winds have been found to act in a very different manner than do the winds here on Earth. NASA probes have found that these winds increase in speed and temperature as they move away from the source. This discovery could be used theoretically to create a new type of nuclear energy.

Water Evaporation
A researcher at Columbia University has been working with a spore which can shrivel and retain shape based on humidity. Using this spore to coat panels, he has managed to create a generator capable of producing energy from water evaporation.

Spherical Solar Collector
An existing solar energy company recently experimented with redesigning the traditionally flat solar panel. Their creation is shaped like a giant, crystal ball, which has proven capable of harnessing solar power even in moonlight! Existing solar energy companies like 1800-Solar-USA have been working to improve their existing products as well. New AMI energy is now being experimented with for home panels.

Combustible Ice
Chinese researchers have found what has become known as combustible ice in a frozen tundra environment. This “ice” is essentially frozen, natural gas, and is capable of being converted to energy via combustion. It remains to be seen whether this can be done in an ecologically sound way.

These are just a handful of examples of how new sources of energy are being discovered by scientific researchers every day. Even the older, more familiar technologies (e.g. wind and water turbines) are being constantly improved by students and researchers in the scientific community. Some cities like Palo Alto, CA are progressing more and more towards 100% renewable energy sources. Perhaps your city will be next.

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at

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