After realizing a quite obvious idea, people can produce energy even themselves from their steps by walking on power sidewalks, which generate electricity. Pavement elements made from recycled rubber will be introduced to the general public on the London Olympic Games. Tiny sensors in special casings provide energy from the pressure caused by steps, which can be stored in the pavement's battery up to three days. Visitors of London can meet the electricity generating pavement between the Olympic Stadium and the recently opened Westfield Stratford City shopping centre. Every single step produces as much energy as a LED bulb would need for 30 second. Since about 30 million customers will show up at this area per year, the energy captured from their steps will be enough to ensure the building's outdoor lighting.
Engineers of several countries have been interested in the idea to produce energy from motorways which connects countries and continents. Although Spain and Germany are the leaders in renewable energy in Europe, but now Italians were the fastest; in 2011 they opened the world's first sun-powered motorway. The energy-producing highway connects two cities, Catania and Siracusa. Along the 30 kilometres all the energy supplies of screens, tunnel lightings, emergency phones and electric equipments are provided by solar panels installed along the road. The solar panels produce 12 million kWh energy per year, which will save the equivalent of10 thousand tons worth of CO2 emission in every year.
There is a similar innovation in process in the USA, but the solar cells would not be built along the highway but into the asphalt. The biggest challenge is to create such solar cells which are able to resist the weight of trucks passing through all days. But if the idea comes true, a 1,5-kilometre-long part may produce energy for around 500 families.
So what is this exactly? Wind cell? Sunturbine? Actually both of them, but why do not fuse the two types of energy? The strange idea was born in the home of unusual architectural solutions, Dubai, where both sources of alternative energy, the sun and the wind, are abundantly available. The plan was made for an art competition about renewable energy plants. There are solar cells on the south part of the bird-shaped sun-wind power plant, which collect the heat. It is achieved by the “chimney effect” that inside the half-glazed building the heated air moves upwards in a double-walled structure, and makes the wind turbine move on the roof.
Besides generating electricity, the bizarre building also serves as a wind organ, since there are organ-pipes in it, which can be used by visitors as well.
Let's imagine, what the weather would do to a car, which always moves at the speed of 200km/h without a stop; it would be certainly spoilt after a few month. The wind turbine components, during their 10-20-year lifetime, are under enormous stress. At 90 metres height above the ground, wind turbines moving with 300 km/h are exposed to stormy wind, rain, snow and sunrise.
That's why the BASF has developed a high-tech coating which is flexible, wear-resistant and reflects the sunlight. The so-called Relius protective coating resists the most extreme climatic conditions, it doesn't come off from the rotor blades, which prolongs rotor blades’ lifespan, and in this way it becomes cheaper to produce environmentally friendly energy. The protecting material helps us to build even more resistant and colossal wind turbines; the record is held by a wind power plant which has 60 metres long and 127 metres wide blades.
Watch our video about wind power plants treated with Relius coating:
Due to processes in the Sun incredible amount of energy is released in every second. Scientists have been trying for a while to repeat this under controlled conditions, which would solve the world's energy problem immediately.
The Culham village, England, is giving home to the world's largest fusion experiment, where the most famous scientists are trying to copy the process, when Hydrogen atoms fuse together to form Helium atoms, which produces a huge amount of energy. The experiments require an incredible amount of electricity, which slow them down. Every time they want to switch on the device they need to ask permission from the electricity works.
Besides the Helium, super hot neutron-plasma with high-kinetic energy is also produced during the fusion process, which could be used to drive turbines to generate electricity. Only the hardest materials are able to resist the extreme conditions, which are continuously tested by the research team. Currently these components have to resist temperature twenty times higher than the core of the Sun and gravity thousand times more powerful than Earth's.
There is a new fusion research centre being built near Marseille, France, where an international research team caries out experiments. The project manager hopes that they will have already been able to produce fusion energy in 2019.
The attention of children is also drawn to the importance of renewable energy. There are toys working with solar, wind and water power on the market which provide tangible experience of alternative energies' efficiency. Using these toys with solar cells you can build many things similarly to the LEGO such as solar powered engines, airplanes or other vehicles. Water based toys contain simplified fuel cells, so the little vehicles start to move if salt water is poured into them. Even wind turbines can be build from them, which can provide energy for different cars, tractors or planes.
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