One of the biggest hurdles with regards to going green is that it is too expensive. Most people would like to use green technologies in their home, but it is the cost that discourages them. Take solar panels. Installing solar panels to take care of the energy needs of the home will cost approximately $20,000 and take nearly 20 yrs to pay back.
Yet there are newer green technologies that do not burn a hole in your wallet and that are as effective, if not more effective than current technologies because they use materials that are found in abundance, like sunlight, salt and sand.
Clean water from dirty
Generally affluents were discharged into large water bodies because making them clean was too expensive. In the US treating affluents in large affluent treatment plants uses up almost 1.5% of the entire annual electrical usage of the nation. Now however a simple, yet cheap technology has been invented to make these affluents clean.
The device called the planar microfluidic reactor or photocatalyst, is a very simple device. It is a rectangular glass container that is coated on the inside with titanium dioxide. This is the active ingredient that is found in most sunscreen lotions. Titanium dioxide works by releasing electrons when it comes in contact with sunlight. These electrons react with impurities in the water, converting them into harmless substances.
The efficiency of this system is dependent on two things, microfulidics which is transporting water through tiny channels, and photocatalysis which is the use of sunlight to break down impurities. Both these systems have been developed separately, but it took a team from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to put them together.
The through put of the device is very small as of now, but the team is working on scaling up the model to achieve a through put of 1,000 liters per hr. Hopefully this device will help cut down the amount of affluent discharge into water bodies helping to keep the World a green place.
Cheap fuel cells
Fuel cells are very green in that they burn only Hydrogen, and give off water. The only problem with them so far has been the cost of generating this hydrogen. As of now making the Hydrogen has proved to be much more expensive and energy intensive than the amount of energy that the resulting Hydrogen can give.
A scientist at the Michigan State University has now found a way to generate Hydrogen very cheaply. The raw materials are Sodium and Silicon which is obtained from sea salt and sand. This sodium and silicon are combined to form Sodium sillicide. When water is added to this it releases Hydrogen. The by product is Sodium sillicate, which is a common ingredient in toothpaste.
This system has the potential to have a fuel cycle because the byproduct of a fuel cell is waqter. This water can be added to the Sodium Sillicide to form Hydrogen which can be used in the fuel cell once again to generate electricity and water.
Both technologies are in the early stages of development, but they have a lot of potential to help generate clean electricity which will help power us in the future.