The power of our oceans cycles nutrients across the planet and carves out the landscapes around us, however the full potential of water to supply our energy needs is yet to be fully utilized. 70% of the earth is covered by the masses of water around us, and accessing only 0.1% of this energy Could supply the entire world’s energy demand five times over. Capturing the power of the ocean is manifested in a variety of ways, from harnessing tidal energy to wave power to acquiring the energy released in the sea’s abundance of chemical reactions. The gravitational and magnetic force exerted on our planet is perhaps the greatest source of energy that we can pull from in our movement towards exploiting sustainable energies.
When fresh and salt water meet, energy is released into the surrounding environment, which has renewable energy developers seeking methods to access this source. One avenue of exploration is offered by the release of heat that accompanies the chemical balancing that occurs when fresh water mixes with salt water. Another opportunity is presented when fresh water rushes into salt water, increasing the pressure within the water and opening a source of kinetic energy for consumption. The original environment afforded by estuaries holds great potential as a reliable electrical and thermal supplier of energy.
Estuaries are home to an abundance of chemical reactions, as ions are shipped from one source to another in an effort to balance the polyatomic shells. By placing a device into estuaries, scientists have engineered a system of tapping into the moving electrons and establishing an electrical network. Through this method, bodies of water function like a battery medium by offering a highway for electrons to flow from the estuaries around us into our homes.
Like a fish that swims by riding on the currents that flow around it, scientists at the
have uncovered a system that captures the energy emanating from all types of water flow. Historically, renewable hydroelectricity has been limited in its applicability because of its demand for relatively high speed currents. The flow of water over a cylinder, even from slow currents, generates enough kinetic energy to move the cylinder and propel a hydroelectric generator. In turn, this pushes the hydroelectric industry over the obstacles that have hindered its development in the past by broadening the scope of marine environments that can support our energy needs. Supplying energy through these vortex induced vibrations helped the University of Michigan to develop its VIVACE energy system which, despite being in its infancy, is already competitively priced with other sustainable energy technologies like wind and nuclear. University of Michigan
Absorbing the energy that pours out of the sun is nothing new, but using it to such efficiency that it could power our transportation systems is making waves in sustainable energy. Boats rely on remote sources of energy to propel themselves through the environment, which makes the utilization of the sun a logical avenue to explore. The Planetsolar boat is the poster child of solar transport offering 470 square metres of solar panels that can charge the boat’s battery enough to let it cruise at 13 kilometres per hour for three straight days without needing to be recharged. Furthermore, plans of combining solar with other types of built in renewable energy sources have experts predicting the dominance of self-sustaining transportation systems in the near future.
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