Have you ever heard of spray on solar panels and fuel produced from bacteria? Sounds crazy, right? Like some thing straight out of a science fiction novel? These farfetched strategies are truly becoming looked at in the business, academic, and scientific worlds. What is even crazier? A number of these ideas have already raised millions in funding to get off the ground!
Right now is the perfect time for green technology. Customers are clamoring for the next huge thing and if it is green, even better. Last year, US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu announced that the government was giving $151 million to clean tech ventures within the form of 37 grants. So with the government on board with green technology ventures, the sky is the limit.
You'll also find private firms like Khosla Ventures that take these ridiculous ideas and fund them too. According to their site, they supply seed money to "a crazy concept that may have a significantly non-zero chance of working". What's that mean in plain English? They fund items that they think will work and will take off. A few of the hot ideas (literally!) that they have invested in incorporate AltaRock Energy. What's their idea? They plan to inject water into the Earth as far down as 3 miles and use the steam that rises up to generate electricity.
A few of the other ideas which are floating out there include:
* Airborne Wind Turbines. Makani Power's giant wing uses wind currents to produce electricity.
* Richard Alan Hales wants to put turbines at airports. The airplanes' exhaust blasts could then be utilised to create energy.
* Nanotechnology. Experts in this field are hoping to create solar panels that can be sprayed or painted onto various surfaces.
* Quantum Dots. These dots are mixed into ink and then could be applied to charge electronics, vehicles, and even buildings. This is being worked on at places like the University of Texas in Austin, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the University of Toronto.
* Plastic solar cells. Nobel Prize winner Alan Heeger is working on solar cells created of plastic to help lower the cost of solar panels.
* New Energy Technologies is trying to develop a device that will collect energy from braking cars and convert it into power for streetlights.
Even though these ideas sound good, it is getting them to function and getting the consumer to use them that tends to be the dilemma (it has taken several years to get buyers on board with items like bamboo clothes, reusing and recycling, all natural cleaners, etc)!!! 90% of ventures like these are going to fail, but it may be the 10% that succeed that may help make the Earth a better place.