Over time, technology comes and goes, but over the past decade or so, there have been more innovations that have come to the fore than at any other time in history, not least when it comes to green products such as solar panels and wind turbines. Although green technology is nothing new, the way in which it works has improved immensely, here are five of the most notable creations that could prove useful to millions, if not billions of people worldwide:
- Thin-film technology – the brainchild of Chih-Hung Chang, associate professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University, this technology is used in modern-day solar panels. It works by using micro-reactors that reduce wasted solar energy (making the panels more efficient) along with making it cheaper to produce solar panels.
- Giant gravel batteries – perhaps the best solution yet to the problem of energy storage in renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels, they were developed by Cambridge-based engineers. They provide weight and conduct energy very well.
- Bovine brain protein – animal products and renewable energy might seem like strange bedfellows, but research by Sarah Heilshorn from Stanford University showed that bovine brain protein contains a chemical called clathrin, which is important in cellular biology. It’s a chemical used widely for inorganic materials, some of which feature in solar panels.
- Highly-efficient solar concentrator designs – Joseph Karp, a student in PhD Electrical Engineering at the University of California, pioneered a design used for solar panels that is less reliant on photovoltaic cells. This is important because it reduces the cost of making solar cells. This means that companies like Dulas can install commercial solar panels at reasonable rates.
- Solar power plants – as an alternative to power plants that rely solely on fossil fuels, they are a major breakthrough. In perennially sunny climates such as that of the Sahara Desert, they could provide jobs as well as generate cheap, reliable and green electricity for people all over the world.
Over the past 20 years the number of solar installations has risen dramatically, however governments and large corporations need to do even more to increase their use and reduce our excessive dependence on fossil and nuclear based fuel generation.
Author Bio: This was written by Jack Cornwall, a theoretical physics that is fascinated by how innovative scientific discoveries can be used to help the environment as well as help society move forward.