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In today’s day and age finding some weird ways to generate energy is probably a good way to go.
And you won’t have to look much further, because we’ve got six of the weirdest all in the one place.
From jellyfish to onions, to train stations, to beer, if you’re after weird ways to generate some power, we’ve got them.
So let’s get started with the first entry on our list, and a trip to Sweden.
Our first weird way to generate some energy isn’t nearly as hippy-dippy as it sounds.
How much energy do you think a human being generates?
You might not feel particularly energised, so might think it would add up to a mere handful of watts.
However, you might be surprised to learn that human beings generate about 60-100 watts of energy.
This about as much energy as your standard light bulb can generate.
All this energy being generated also has the side effect of producing a lot of heat.
If there’s a large gathering of people in one place this can really impact the warmth of that area.
For example, in the Stockholm metro, about two hundred and fifty thousand people pass through every day.
This is enough to raise the temperature of the central station by about 3 degrees Celsius.
One enterprising company has found a way to harness this thermal energy, using it provides about 30% of the heating needs for an office building.
Similar moves are also underway in London and Paris as well.
Onions can do more than make you cry and ruin your salad.
Did you know that you can actually use them to generate electricity?
When you compress an onion, say by squeezing it, the onion releases a notable amount of methane.
One company in America has started putting this methane to work generating energy.
Gills Onions is an onion company out of California who have come up with a great plan to turn their over three hundred thousand pounds of daily waste into energy.
That might sound weird, but it really works.
The Advanced Energy Recovery System converts the leftover waste into biogas, which is then turned into methane.
All this gas ultimately powers a 600-kilowatt fuel cell owned by the company.
Not a bad way to use a few leftover onions.
Ever looked at jellyfish and wondered what exactly makes it glow?
What’s causing this fluorescence is a special kind of protein found in some types of jellyfish.
This protein is named, imaginatively, the green fluorescent protein.
What does that have to do with electricity?
Well, most of the researchers’ attention has been focused on Aequorea victoria, a kind of jellyfish common to North American waters.
Scientists in Sweden have been turning these jellyfish into liquid and extracting the protein.
What they’ve discovered is that this protein can generate small amounts of electricity.
How small? We’re talking on the microscopic level.
This might seem completely irrelevant to your life as a human-sized person, but don’t dismiss it so easily.
These small charges could be instrumental in powering nanotechnology.
Nanotech is already being used to diagnose disease, calculate blood sugar levels, and get images of tumours.
Read More: Spooked out by jellyfish? Check out our energy horror stories!
Here’s a weird and wonderful fact for you all.
Due to a rapidly ageing population, sales of adult nappies in Japan are set to outpace sales of regular, baby nappies.
It makes sense when you think about it, if you’re old, you could be old for decades, but you’re only a baby for a couple of years.
So what’s to be done with the messed pants of an entire generation?
Well, a company named Super Faiths Inc has come up with a pretty clever way to make use of this nappy boom.
The soiled nappies will be turned into fuel through Super Faiths’ cutting edge SFD recycling system.
First, the nappies are shredded into what Super Faith call’s “fluffy chips” which are largely odourless and can generate about 5000 kcal of heat per kg.
The shreds then enter the forming machine where they are crushed into smaller fuel pellets.
When these pellets are combusted in a biomass boiler, they produce biogas.
This biogas can be used to heat everything from hot tubs to greenhouses to iced-over roads in the winter.
We’ll continue the very strong Swedish connection running through this blog with a look at lady liquor.
If you’ve ever watched Border Patrol you probably know that smuggling goods across the border isn’t a good idea.
In Sweden, the authorities were at a loss as to what to do with the over 185,000 gallons (700,000 litres) of contraband booze they’d intercepted.
So rather than throwing a party, the Swedish government decided to work with Svensk Biogas AB to convert beer into biogas.
This biogas was then used to help run over 1000 buses and trucks, and also helped fuel an entire train.
Buses more than twelve cities in Sweden were running on the biogas within a few years.
We’re heading back to the microscopic scale for our final weird way to generate energy.
Algae is one of the oldest extant lifeforms on the planet, and our oceans are filled to the brim with over 100,000 different kinds of algae.
Algae operate using photosynthesis, just like many other plants on land.
When their sunlight is absorbed by the algae it is stored as energy in the form of oil. It’s this oil that scientists believe can be used as a fuel source.
What makes the algae-based oil such an appealing fuel source is that there is so much algae in the ocean, and it has the potential to be so much more productive.
They believe going down this route could be anywhere from 10 to 100 times more productive than traditional land-based bioenergy systems.
So those are our 6 weird ways to generate energy.
Have you made any discoveries recently?
Maybe you were tinkering in the shed and discovered perpetual motion?
Or maybe your research has finally paid off and you’ve now got the answer to South Australia’s energy woes.
Let us know in the comments and we’ll be back with another article very soon.