Eccentric energy: Something in the water
12th September 2019
The weather’s a sure-fire conversational starter throughout the year in Britain. And this summer, the chatter probably focused on the rain: Met Office records show UK rainfall at 153% of the average for August. So, we’re making H20 the theme of our latest deep-dive (pun intended!) into some ‘eccentric’ developments in the world of energy.
Read more below:
‘Blue’ power creating green energy
Scientists at Stanford University are investigating whether saltwater could help bring about a zero-carbon future. By mixing saline and fresh water, they believe it’s possible to create a battery that would unleash large amounts of clean energy. This could amount to as much as 0.65 kilowatt-hours for every cubic metre of the mixed water.
To explore the potential for this so-called ‘blue’ power, the scientists have been working at a wastewater treatment plant in Palo Alto, California. Here, they’ve captured ‘salinity gradient energy’ by mixing water containing different levels of salt.
So far, the battery has proved 97% efficient at capturing that energy, leading the scientists to believe that the potential’s there to roll out more clean ‘blue’ energy.
A transparently good idea
In 2018, around 32,000 tonnes of microplastics – coming mainly from vehicle tyres and clothing – found their way into British waterways.
Now, an 18-year old student from the Republic of Ireland has developed a simple solution. Fionn Ferreira’s approach involves pouring a mixture of oil and magnetite powder into the affected water. The mixture sticks to microplastics, which can then be removed from the water using magnets.
Fionn’s invention has already been recognised at Google’s annual science fair, and he plans to use his cash prize to improve and scale up his solution.
EarthApp – a climate change wake-up call!
Here’s a case of either too much water or, in some instances, not enough. To give people a clearer idea of what our world might look like if nothing’s done about climate change, Greenpeace and Russian digital agency Isobar have launched EarthApp.
With rising water levels and warmer climates, the #EarthApp campaign on Instagram uses a digital photo filter that reconfigures landscape images to show how they could look by 2100.
So far, Greenpeace has used the technology to process three images – including the Nera river near St Petersburg – with dramatic results. We can only hope that they never become reality.
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