We take a look at some of today’s top green energy innovations

Scientists working on green energy innovations continue to make leaps and bounds in their quest to achieve a more sustainable world.

Here is a look at some of the most recent game-changing innovations in green energy.

Lithium-Air Batteries

Scientists have been working on the development of lithium-air batteries since the beginning of electric vehicles. According to Science Daily, the two biggest drawbacks to this method are that they unpredictably short circuit and have a speedy loss of battery power.

Researchers at Cornell University recently addressed the battery power loss, also known as capacity fade. Snehashis Choudhury, a graduate student at Cornell University’s Archer Research Group, theorizes that the electrolyte-electrode interaction is what drains the battery so quickly by consuming the electrodes.

His solution is called an artificial-solid electrolyte interphase, which is a material that promotes the flow of electrons while protecting the electrodes.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Another ongoing challenge for electric vehicles has always been to increase the speed at which their batteries can charge. Scientists at Rice University suggest they have found the solution in the roads themselves, more specifically the asphalt. The anodes found in asphalt have shown their potential to store large amounts of energy and the fastest charge times yet.

“The capacity of these batteries is enormous, but what is equally remarkable is that we can bring them from zero charge to full charge in five minutes, rather than the typical two hours or more needed with other batteries,” said James Tour, Professor at Rice University, about how effectively asphalt can charge lithium batteries.

Pedestrian Green Energy Innovations

As far as green energy innovations go, electric vehicles have made it to the forefront. While the advances made in the automotive industry for a more sustainable world are remarkable, there is a major need to address how pedestrians can source reusable energy while on the go.

That’s where the new electric footwear, SmartBoots, comes into play. Created by tech startup company SolePower, the new invention is being offered as a much needed solution.

The demand for mobile power continues to outpace the rate of battery technology, creating an ever-growing problem for portable electronic devices,” explains Jeff McDaniel, Executive in Residence, Innovation Works. “SolePower’s self-charging, wearable technologies help solve this problem, adding safety, efficiency, and enhanced communication ability across a multitude of sectors.”  

Founder and CEO Hahna Alexander elaborated that the wearables are meant to help anyone from construction workers to everyday pedestrians by making their lives better.

Solar-Powered Benches

Among green energy innovations focused on catering to a more pedestrian-friendly world is the concept of solar powered benches—a result of automobile giant Ford’s partnership with Strawberry Energy.

As a part of Ford’s City of Tomorrow vision, the two companies will provide 20 benches to be installed throughout London. The purpose of the solar-powered benches is not only to offer pedestrians a way to charge their mobile devices, but to monitor noise, temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide.

First Generation Smart Grid

Having the entire planet on a smart grid system would be the ultimate of green energy innovations. However, in order to achieve a reliable smart grid system every household and building must have smart meters installed.

The new meters, built on smart grid technologies, “are made possible by the two-way communication technologies, control systems, and computer processing,” according to The Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. They work by sending real time usage information to the household energy provider which would then allow adjustments in availability to fluctuate according to the area’s latest needs.

The U.K. has had trouble adjusting the technology to their business and infrastructure norms. Alternatively, the U.S. began its adoption of the smart grid system in 2007 and a task force was even set up to help the process along. While the process has been slow, small communities have started their own microgrid projects to allow consumer demands to drive implementation.

Space-based Solar Power

Among the most ambitious and challenging green energy innovations is the idea of solar power sourced from outer space. While it offers the possibility of endless solar energy, considering there is no night time in outer space, the concept of space-based solar power is filled with challenges we have yet to conquer.

Transporting all of the necessary equipment, such as the panels, into space would be a costly feat. Transferring the generated energy back to Earth would also have challenges of its own. However, recent developments such as wireless energy transfer, much like the one in the iPhone 8, suggest scientists are working on how to bridge the gap so that one day this concept may become a feasible option.

The Frontier of Green Energy Innovations

As green energy innovations continue to develop, the way they interconnect to positively impact the world is important to acknowledge. Advances to both the lithium-air battery and asphalt sourced energy efforts will aid in the success of electric cars, which could one day be recharged by space-based solar power. Pedestrian powered mobile devices and smart benches increase the amount of people interested in walking instead of driving, when possible. By decreasing the need for as many vehicles on the road, the amount of emissions would decrease as well. A smart grid system would contribute to a better world by providing an open line of communication between providers and consumers for a more accurate use of overall energy.

All of the green energy innovations listed above have the same essential goal in mind: to find the most sustainable way to source energy, while making the most optimal manner to use it.