The Future of Energy: Nanotechnology

    Renewable energy resources are very important when it comes to the protecting our future. Across many industries, finding alternative energy sources is incredibly important as a way to stand out against non-environmentally-conscious competitors. With benefits for both businesses and the environment, striving for energy efficiency has never been so prevalent.

    Nanotechnology has played a large part in the recent developments of alternative energy sources. The nanotech industry is still in its infancy, but the results are already looking to revolutionize how we can get energy from everyday occurrences.

    Here are some of most recent, innovative energy sources enhanced by nanotechnology that experts have found.

    Body Movement

    One of the biggest complaints and areas of development in mobile technology is the quest for better battery life. Users want a longer lasting battery, but experts and engineers feel the pressure to find alternative and greener ways of sourcing that energy. Because of the demand in mobile computing, researchers have built a system designed to harvest energy from body movement.

    Body Movement
    PHOTO CREDIT: pexels.com
    Using paper-thin nanogenerators in items of clothing, the sensors can convert both mechanical (movement) and thermal (heat) energies from the body into electric current. The energy can be stored in a self-charging power unit, which requires fall-wave bridge rectifiers to convert the energy.

    Alongside the developments in nanotechnology, the decreasing prices of electrical features, like bridge rectifiers, are enabling the search for alternative energy sources to expand. The use of sensors and conductors are widening thanks to them being universally available – such as the bridge rectifiers online at RS Components.

    The affordable bridge rectifiers, and various electrical components, provide researchers with the extra resources to create systems like the body-movement nanogenerators. These generators could power electronic textiles, mobile devices, handsets, wearable technology and more.

    Air Pollution

    Using hydrogen as an alternative energy source has been championed for some time. This is because burning hydrogen with oxygen produces no air polluting waste products, such as carbon dioxide so it’s better for the environment. However, the energy used to produce pure hydrogen often outweighs the yield and uses unsustainable fuel sources, making it a less efficient way of harvesting energy.

    Academic researchers in America have created a device that uses an alternative way of producing hydrogen. The device is made up of two compartments, separated by nano-materials. In the one compartment, air pollutants are broken down and the end product passes through the nano-material. This nanotechnology-engineered membrane extracts hydrogen and stores it in the second compartment. The device is powered by solar energy, which makes it entirely self-sustaining and a much greener way of sourcing hydrogen - all thanks to nanotechnology.

    Air Pollution
    PHOTO CREDIT: pexels.com
    With air pollution one of the biggest environmental problems in big cities, the hydrogen extracting technology could turn one of the most harmful by-products of fossil fuels into useful, clean energy.

    Solar Energy

    Solar energy is one of the most common and commercial forms of alternative energy sources. Solar panels can be found on buildings and appliances across the world. Although its popularity is unwavering, it isn’t the most efficient form of harvesting energy from solar rays. Often, only a small amount of the solar radiation is absorbed, with the rest lost as heat and light.

    Solar Energy
    PHOTO CREDIT: pexels.com
    Using nanotechnology, researchers have designed a solar panel that absorbs more solar energy. Current solar models use silicon crystals to convert the sunlight into electrical currents, but by using nanostructured silicon instead of crystalline silicon the amount of solar energy absorbed will be dramatically increased.

    If this design becomes commonplace in commercial solar panels, homes, and buildings, and business will be able to drastically cut back on energy bills.

    Nanotechnology: What does this mean for alternative energy?

    Nanotechnology allows scientists to manipulate matter to a scale of nanometers. This intricate ability finds new properties and results from processes that are already in place to source new forms of energy.

    Although the nanotechnology industry is still young, the results of working in nano-scale have already had a huge impact on not just renewable energy, but various areas of research.

    The results of nanotechnology are clear; to find alternative, cheaper and efficient solutions to problems that effect both businesses and the wider world around it.
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