Scientists are always looking for ways to power the world whilst being as environmentally friendly as possible; this stretches far beyond the obvious choices for green energy (e.g. wind and solar), giving way to some bizarre alternative energy sources.
Back in August, scientists revealed that not only does our favourite morning-starter give us the energy to leave the house, but its waste product could be used to remove carbon from the environment: when processed properly, coffee grounds’ are a successful carbon capture material in less than a day.
In turn, stored methane within the coffee grounds could be used as an alternative to coal. This opens up a new opportunity for a greener alternative to generate energy and power homes — all from a waste product found in abundance.
France has given itself a new reason to be a cheese-loving nation, as it’s now the owner of a power plant running off of whey.
The Telegraph recently reported that the power plant in Albertville (the alps) uses skimmed whey — a byproduct from making the region’s popular Beaufort cheese — which is then converted into biogas (methane and carbon dioxide). Currently, the plant can generate enough energy for a community of 1,500.
The generated electricity from the plant, owned by Valbio, is being sold to the energy company EDF.
Researchers from Concordia University (Québec), have been inventing a power cell charged from the photosynthesis and respiration of blue-green algae: both these processes naturally produce energy from electron transfer chains, and trapping these electrons in a power cell means electricity is stored.
“By taking advantage of a process that is constantly occurring all over the world, we’ve created a new and scalable technology that could lead to cheaper ways of generating carbon-free energy,” says Packirisamy, engineering professor at Concordia.
Algae is also famed as being a feasible alternative to biofuels.
In 2012, Edinburgh-based Celtic Renewables unveiled a biofuel made from the by-products of creating Scotch Whisky.
The creation of the fuel (called biobutanol) from unwanted whisky residue following the fermentation process, is said to be commercially scalable.
The fuel could be capable of powering forms of transport including planes and lorries. This resulted in Celtic Renewables winning an £11 million grant from the UK Department for Transport in September 2015. This has helped secure a facility for the fuel’s production which is set to be operational in 2018.