Virus of Power
If you have ever had nightmares of a super virus wiping out mankind, this news of a positive use of viruses may offer some solace.
Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been making news since at least 2008 for their efforts related to using viruses to create a battery.
In 2012, nanotech scientist Angela Belcher continues to spearhead the effort which utilizes genetically modified viruses to create batteries smaller than 1/10 the width of a human hair (1). Using the genetic code of viruses, scientists can manipulate them to create various shapes, attract metals, and build such things as the anodes and cathodes needed to create batteries (2).
So far, Angela Belcher has created three variations of virus power: a lithium battery, a virus nano-tube solar cell, and water-splitting virus fuel cells.
This type of virus is capable of creating electricity when it is bent, poked, or squeezed, a trait known as piezoelectricity. This technology has been harnessed into powering an LCD screen by placing the viruses into a wafer between electrodes. If more strides are made in the field of viruses in the creation of power, the next time you speak of viruses, it may be in a positive way rather than related to illness. After all, Angela Belcher’s dream is to drive a virus-powered car (3). Here she is in a 10 minute, very fascinating lecture on virus and nano technology.
Fuel on the Rocks
With the abundance of methane gas available due to hydraulic fracturing methods used in fields such as the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, some would see little need of looking for additional sources. However, as one technology expert points out, waiting until you need something is not the best time to search for it (4). That is why the U.S. Department of Energy and its partners have been looking for methane gas in some rather strange places, namely ice. Not all ice is simply a frozen form of H2O. Certain ice is made of methane hydrate. Eliminate the water, and you have methane gas!
Research is being conducted to replace the methane particles with carbon dioxide, recovering the methane without displacing the ice.
Roll, Tide, Roll
Constant and ceaseless: two adjectives that describe the come and go of the tides give good reason for research into harnessing that constant motion for powering the contraptions of modern man. According to researchers, the world’s tides are capable of producing 800 Terawatt hours of electricity per year, in a precise and predictable fashion far different than the variations of wind power.
The world’s first tidal current power plant was designed and developed by Marine Current Turbines Ltd. off the Irish coast (5). U.S. companies such as Siemens Energy see great potential in this clean new source of power. The first North American turbine kicked into duty off the coast of Maine in December 2012.
While most countries are battling waste management issues to include overflowing landfills and an abundance of garbage, Sweden is begging for garbage from surrounding countries, currently importing from Norway, and hoping to bring it in from countries such as Bulgaria, Italy, and Romania. And what is the purpose of all this trash? To create energy for the homes of Swedish residents.
In a case of one person’s waste being another person’s treasure, Sweden has been incredibly successful in its production of clean fuel and has seen a dramatic decrease of greenhouse gas emissions (6). Perhaps other countries should follow suit.
Paul Moore works with bakkenresidencesuites.com in the Bakken formation area, providing corporate housing for employees in the fossil fuels industry.
- Enhance Landfill Gas to Bio-LNG (ahilan007.wordpress.com)
- Frack Off!!! (auldacquaintance.wordpress.com)
- Apple doubles size of Catawba County fuel cell project (charlotteobserver.com)