4 clever green-energy concepts that may one day become reality


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There's no doubt alternative energy is advancing, with more companies being created to further the movement and profit from it. With more businesses striving to make the world a greener place, future inventions and innovations will change how people live and behave.

Here are four green-energy concepts that could come to life one day and impact how future generations treat Mother Nature.


1. Using "snakes” to capture the energy in waves

Although many people are afraid of the real-life slithering serpent, the scientific version might make a revolutionary splash in how humans use water to generate power. The "snake" is a long and enclosed water-filled rubber tube that sits below the water's surface. One end of it faces the oncoming waves and uses the rollers that hit the tube to generate a bulge wave. This wave then spins a turbine, generating electricity that's shipped back to shore through a cable.

The project, titled Anaconda, is being developed at the University of Southampton. A full-scale and functional Anaconda would ideally be about 25 feet in diameter and 660 feet long, producing one megawatt of electricity. This would be enough electricity to power about 2,000 homes.


2. Using cylindrical rods to capture the energy in water currents

Lining ocean and river floors with cylindrical rods that capture the energy from slow-moving currents might seem like an extreme idea, but it's more genius than befuddling. Water that flows past the rods creates vortex-induced vibrations, forming swirls in an alternating pattern that push and pull an object up or down or side to side to produce mechanical energy. University of Michigan engineer Michael Bernitas and colleagues are researching ways to harness this energy and convert it to electricity.

The project — titled Vortex Induced Vibrations for Aquatic Clean Energy, or VIVACE — was actually inspired by fish. Fish can't propel through the water with their muscle power alone, so they make use of their bodies by curving them to glide between the vortices left by the fish in front of them. This distinct motion allows the fish to use one another's wake to move as fast as they do. Project researchers say a running track about two stories high could produce enough electricity to power 100,000 homes.


3. Using artificial trees and leaves to capture the energy in the sun

Leaves convert sunlight into energy through the process of photosynthesis that helps nurture life on Earth. Now, scientists are scrambling to create artificial trees and leaves that power the world too. A group of researchers at Imperial College London is looking for ways to build leaves that imitate photosynthesis, generating green fuels like methanol and hydrogen that'll contribute to a cleaner world.

SolarBotanic, a London-based company, is in the research-and-development stage of producing artificial trees that have "nanoleaves" that generate electricity from the sun's light and heat. Additionally, piezoelectric generators will capture energy from the wind, rain and sound. Ideally, these trees will blend in with their environment, providing an aesthetically pleasing source of energy.


4. Using solar power to capture the energy in space

If you thought using solar power from outer space was an impossible idea, think again. Solaren Corp., a startup company, plans to beam down 200 megawatts of electricity for the Pacific Gas & Electric company in California in 2016. Although the details of the venture aren't public yet, the company has informed people that this form of energy production will be competitive both in regards to price and performance.

One of the biggest benefits of this form of technology is that it would generate power for 24 hours a day and seven days a week, since clouds or Earth's day-night cycle wouldn't affect it. According to EnergySavings.com, this could lead to reduced energy costs for future generations.


Although these concepts are still in the development stages, and there's no telling how much of a hand they'll have in shaping the future green world, it's a fact that some will impact humanity in the years to come.

Have you heard of any other energy-efficient concepts? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.