6 Intriguing Possibilities for Alternative Source Energy

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Image by Lollie-Pop

Alternative energy sources are the foundation to a sustainable future.  We talk a lot about wind and solar power – for good reason, but there are plenty of other feasible (and not so feasible) options to consider.  In previous posts, we’ve looked at  the potential of tornados as alternative source energy and explored the simplistic awe of human power.  This post will cover a few more alternative power solutions that could play a role in the future of energy – from chicken feathers to ancient mudstones…

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5 Alternative, Unusual and Sustainable Boating Innovations

Spiderboat by kgedquest via Flickr_540
Spiderboat by kgedquest via Flickr

Although some eco-boats are powered by human fat and others by animal fat, more traditional “fuels” that are clean and green include solar and wind, or both – abundant resources on the open water. Turning a dirty, yet nature-dependent past-time into one that has low- to no-impact is a challenge, but new technologies are making dreams of green boating a near reality.

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10 of the Weirdest Ways to Power a Car

 

Green transport by doug88888 via Flickr
Green transport by doug88888 via Flickr

Green transport and sustainable fuel alternatives have come a long way in the past decade – but the auto industry still has a long way to go. In the meantime, there are plenty of creative individuals coming up with their own way to make their driving a little eco-friendlier. From fat and feces to liquor and sawdust, there are some weird alternative fuel sources currently powering cars around the world…

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The Tyranny of King Corn (part 1)

We’ve all heard by now that corn-based ethanol has turned out to be a bad idea.

  • Corn is energy intensive to grow, gobbling up fossil-fuels at every stage of production, from transporting seeds to fertilizing the fields (with petrochemical fertilizers) to final harvest.
  • Corn is also a spectacularly water-intensive crop.
  • The ethanol production stage consumes more fossil fuels and water.
  • Once it finally reaches your gas tank, ethanol burns around 30% less efficiently than gasoline (meaning your per-mile cost is actually 30% more than you think it is).
  • Estimates of how much actual energy we get out of the process range from barely breaking even to around 20 percent more than the input energy.
  • And of course, every step of the process spews CO2 into the atmosphere.

It’s been almost a year since The New York Times editorialized on the subject:

The economics of corn ethanol have never made much sense. Rather than importing cheap Brazilian ethanol made from sugar cane, the United States slaps a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on ethanol from Brazil. Then the government provides a tax break of 51 cents a gallon to American ethanol producers — on top of the generous subsidies that corn growers already receive under the farm program.

And unlike our inefficient corn-based ethanol, that Brazilian product actually yields 370% of the energy put into it.

So, why are we doing this? What possible calculus could convince us to even consider corn ethanol?

Corn is big business – and big agribusiness hires the best lobbyists.

Here, the return on investment is spectacular: plant a few tens of millions of dollars in seed money in the form of campaign contributions to senators and members of Congress, and reap billions of dollars in federal farm subsidies.

And for agribusiness, corn is king.

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Land, Sea and Air – Hydrogen, Human and Wind Power: Three Ecological Transporation Innovations

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Let’s face it, trying to solve a big problem in one quick step rarely works out, particularly when the problem is global and touches on virtually all kinds of transporation. Too many alternative energy concept vehicles try too hard to rely on a single source of energy. Electric cars need frequent recharges and solar-powered vehicles of course need the sun. These three vehicles are a worthy stop-gap measure as the world slowly learns to rely less and less on conventional fuel sources and turns more and more to renewable energy.

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21st Century Flintstone’s Car Finally for Sale

Drivable Human Powered Car

They’ve talked about it, they’ve made prototypes and now finally here it is: a human-powered car (The HumanCar) that can reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. Beyond just sounding like one, this invention bears an uncanny resemblance to the walkable vehicle from the Flintstones. Love it, hate it, mock it or berate it this strange new vehicle is available for $15,000 as of Earth Day 2008!

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