Power To The People

Ken AshfordEnvironment & Global Warming & EnergyLeave a Comment

With environment-conciousness on the rise, and much talk about alternative energies, one wonders what technology is in the offing.  Sure, we all know about wind power and solar power, which are certainly better for the environment.  But these have significant drawbacks, not the least of which is expense.

But are there economically feasible alternative energy sources on the horizon?

Current sources of energy (like coal and oil) cost roughly $1 for every watt generated.  That’s the benchmark.  Futuristic fuel sources need to beat that.

ThinfilmpanelsWell, here’s a good contender: solar film panels.  It is expected that this technology, once fully developed, will cost 50 cents for every watt generated, twice as economically (and hundreds of times cleaner) than current sources.  Moreover, they are thin and malleable, so designers can emply them easily into electronic devices, buildings, and even fabric.  If all goes well, we’ll start to see these babies in five to ten years.  Read more here.

Looking even longer term, what energy alternatives are there?  Believe it or not, there is something out there which is 10,000 times more efficient than energy sources available now.  And it’s located …in your ear.  It’s called prestin, and it’s a natural chemical protein located on the outer hair cells within your inner ear.  Prestin has the ability to convert motion to energy — i.e, movement acts as an energy source.  Right now, the harnessing of prestin energy is still a long way away, although scientists are now looking at ways in which prestin can act as the fuel source for nano-robots (microscopic robots that can, for example, be injected into the blood and repair internal organs and vessels).

In any event, it’s fairly sure that within our lifetime, we’ll begin to see the end of coal/oil dependency.  And not only will it be more enviro-friendly, it will be cheaper and smaller.

To which I say …kewl.