A new high-technology energy source could be useful for low-power applications. The news of a team of scientists making electricity by collecting mechanical energy from falling rain drops (link) illustrates the creativity available to humanity, and that the possibilities for invention always exceed our expectations. I fully agree with certain political leaders that we need a lot more people inventing in their basements and garages if we are to overcome our energy problems. How can incentives be provided to get people thinking and working that way, though?
Sea-bottom gas hydrates keep resurfacing. Another source of energy has been in the news recently. Gas hydrates frozen on the floor of the oceans, while so far untapped, contain huge amounts of energy, some estimates as high as several hundred times the total natural gas reserves. All we need is the technologies to mine them, and such technologies are under development (link). Of course, this is not a renewable fuel source, and the most probably use involves burning and all the emissions associated with that. Also, anything non-renewable is temporary by definition, but it could still help bridge the gap between when petroleum and coal become too scarce and expensive, and when we can implement some other energy source such as fusion power. (Side note: some scientists attribute the sudden and mysterious disappearance of ships and planes over the Gulf of Mexico or Bermuda Triangle to releases of flammable gas hydrates from the sea bottom, and their subsequent rise to the surface where they could be ignited by a passing vehicle.)
These aren’t the only rarely-mentioned or new alternatives out there, fortunately. I look forward to learning of more of them and discussing them here. Please comment on any other interesting alternative energy sources you may know of.
As always, I welcome your comments and thanks in advance. – Tim