Gobar Times
Open Forum

Future Energy

Do we have THE POWER?

Researchers and scientists across the world are busy in their labs trying to create energy and fuels from almost anything, including, leaves, rice husk, pedal power, computers and even chicken-fat.

Bacterial Power
By genetically modifying the bacteria, a professor in Texas A&M University's chemical engineering department has "tweaked" a strain of E. coli so that it produces substantial amounts of hydrogen. He envisions the bacteria as a future source of energy, helping to power our cars, homes and more.

Computers might fuel our cars in the next 10 years! Researchers in Romania and Turkey have developed a way to recycle printed circuit boards, which contain high levels of pollutants like heavy metals and flame-retardants. A combination of high temperatures, catalysts and chemical filtration removes the toxic substances. And converts the waste into environment-friendly raw materials, which can be used as feedstock and fuels.

Leaf Power
Artificial photosynthesis is another energy technology being developed. The idea is to create artificial systems that exploit the basic chemistry of photosynthesis in order to produce hydrogen or other fuels both for engines and electricity. Hydrogen burns cleanly, yielding just water and energy. There is also the additional benefit that artificial photosynthesis could mop up any excess carbon dioxide left over from our present era of profligate fossil fuel consumption.

Chicken Power
Chickens will now be used for something beyond sumptuous dishes – to produce biofuels! Researchers at the University of Arkansas, US, have developed a method to convert chicken fat to a biodiesel, which is efficient enough to power automobiles and trucks. Chicken-fat fuels are less expensive, better for the environment and the machines than most of the other sources like Soybean oil, say the scientists.

Rice Power
Rice husk is the new power source. Recently, two Virginia University students started a project with an Ißndia-based partner to supply electricity to villages in Bihar by burning rice husks. This will create two valuable products – electricity and ash, which can be sold as an ingredient for cement. As of now, two pilot rice husk generators are providing power to about 10,000 rural Indians, which will save 200 tonnes of emissions annually for each village if compared to generation of power from diesel or coal.

Steam Power
A new energy technology is being tested in the Negev desert, Israel. Mirrors are being used to harness the sun’s rays and create electricity-producing steam. Sixteen thousand mirrors, or heliostats, focus the sunrays onto a water boiler set on top of a 60-meterhigh tower. The water turns into steam, which is then used to turn a turbine to generate electricity.