How Technology Is Helping The Environment

Many companies are developing new and innovative green technologies to help transform the ways societies utilize and recycle energy resources. Technologies such as solar power, wind power, and ethanol have already been developed and are being optimized, but have failed to attract enough corporate attention to make significant global impact. The most interesting prospects of green energy technologies are currently in development and could drastically change how wasted energy is utilized. The following list of companies and their technologies is just a quick snapshot of new green energy ideas and a glimpse into a green future. The technologies mentioned are either currently in development or being implemented on a small-scale basis. The companies mentioned are in no way endorsed or affiliated with this website.

CO2 Recycling
Today, industrialization has reached a global scale. As demands for fossil fuel resources are increasing exponentially, the resources necessary to function are rapidly decreasing. Carbon Sciences Inc., a company based in Santa Barbara, California, is developing breakthrough technology that can recycle CO2 emissions into gasoline and other fuels. Carbon Sciences is utilizing chemical engineering and bioengineering disciplines to develop a highly efficient and scalable biocatalytic process to meet the fuel needs of the rapidly developing world 1. While this technology will substantially lower the world's dependence on petroleum fuel, major gasoline corporations will surely have an influence on its development and implementation.

Rubber Waste To Oil
Alliance Recovery Corporation is a company dealing with the conversion of rubber waste into oil and energy creation. Millions of pounds of rubber waste from tires and other rubber products are disposed of annually. In most states, it is illegal to dispose of rubber waste in landfills. Alliance Recovery has developed a process that turns rubber waste into fuel oil. This fuel is then converted into electrical energy through an eco-friendly thermal process 2.

Ocean Waves Into Energy
The most abundant resource on the earth's surface is water. This resource is behind the eco-friendly energy production technology of Ocean Power Technologies. OPT specializes in cost-effective, advanced, environmentally friendly offshore wave power technology. Their system converts the natural energy in ocean waves into energy. This system utilizes hydrodynamics, electronics, energy conversion and computer controlled systems. The ocean wave movements cause a specialized buoy to move freely up and down. This mechanical stoking is then converted to drive an electrical generator. The power generated by this process is then transmitted to shore through underwater power cables 3. Off the coast of Oregon, construction of the countries' first commercial wave-energy farm has begun. This farm will supply power to about 400 homes 4.

Energy From Vehicle Friction
With over 250 million vehicles registered in the United States, and an estimated 6 billion miles traveled per day, New Energy Technologies Inc. has developed a clever way to capture wasted energy from automobiles. All vehicles in motion produce kinetic energy. A vehicle in the process of braking and slowing down wastes some of its kinetic energy. New Energy Technologies has developed a "harvester" to capture the energy of braking vehicles and converting that energy into electricity 5. In September 2009, a Burger King in New Jersey tested this technology in their drive-thru. It is New Energy Technologies' opinion that this technology can be effectively utilized in high traffic areas such as shopping centers, intersections, rest areas, border crossings, and toll plazas 6.

Solar Cells From Tobacco Plants
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley discovered a way to create solar cells from a highly unlikely resource: tobacco plants. By utilizing a genetically engineered virus, scientists were able to transform the cells of tobacco plants and create synthetic solar cells from them. Instead of creating a new species of the plant, this technique works by spraying the virus on fully-grown tobacco plants. As the virus spreads through the plant's cells, the infected cells create artificial chromophores that make high-powered electrons out of light. Once harvested, extracted, and transformed into a liquid version, the resulting solution is applied to plastic or glass 7.

Fuel From Biomass
In 2006, the U.S. Department Of Energy reported that U.S. landfills contained 140 million tons of residual biomass. With technology created by Green Power Inc this biomass could be converted to 13 billion gallons of fossil free fuel per year. Green Power Inc has devised a single-step system for this conversion process. The biomass is fed through nitrogen-purged airlocks into a hot oil reaction vessel. The result of their process is the creation of gas rich in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide 8.

Cellulosic Biomass Into Ethanol
Breaking down plant materials is both difficult and expensive, and one of the biggest challenges facing the cellulosic ethanol industry. Qteros has developed technology that simplifies the enthanol production process. Their technology decomposes and ferments cellulosic biomass and converts the resulting material into ethanol. The process converts both cellulose and hemicellulosic plant material, and allows for pre-treatments that are more environmentally friendly than current processes 9. A research team at the National University of Singapore recently released estimates on the benefits of cellulosic ethanol. According to this study, 82.93 billion liters of cellulosic ethanol can be produced from landfill waste across the globe. The resulting biofuel would reduce carbon emissions anywhere from 29 to 86 percent for every unit of energy produced 10. Qteros is also developing technology that converts wastewater into ethanol, without producing sludge from the wastewater treatment process 11.

Energy From Vibrations
Engineers at Facility Architects, a London-based architectural firm, have devised technology to convert vibrations from passing trucks, speeding trains, and pedestrian foot traffic into energy that lights walkways and buildings. Experts at the University of Hull estimate that six to eight watts of energy can be produced per day based on a typical person's walking pattern and distance traveled 12.

Energy From Cross-Winds
A team led by Tiago Barros, an Advanced Models expert at Aedus Architects in London, and Jorge Pereira have developed an innovation bridge concept to utilize the power generated by cross-winds, which are produced by cars traveling under bridges. This concept involves over 2,000 lightweight panels that are rotated by passing cars. This technology increases wind velocity by up to 20%, optimizing the rotation of the panels. Part of the power produced is used to illuminate the bridge at night, which acts as a responsive "urban chandelier". This bridge, appropriately names the "Cross-Wind Bridge", is located in Lisbon, Portugal 13.

Invisible Solar Streetlight
Johong Lee, an Industrial Designer from South Korea, has developed a clever, non-invasive, invisible solar streetlight. The streetlight is an innovation that brings solar power and beauty together. These lights collect energy throughout the day and provide soft, elegant light during the night. They easily intertwine with existing branches on trees, and do not require a power source 14.

Power Plastic
Konarka has created technology to take solar power above and beyond its current state of development. Konarka's technology, called Power Plastic, consists of a photovoltaic material that captures indoor and outdoor light, and converts it into direct current electrical energy. This energy can be used immediately, stored for later use, or converted to other forms. Konarka claims that Power Plastic can be applied to a limitless number of potential applications, including but not limited to microelectronics, portable power, remote power, building-integrated applications 15. This technology has the potential to revolutionize how and where we harness the powers of renewable energy from light.

Renewable Battery Power
One of the most rapidly advancing technologies is renewable battery power. Researchers at London's Imperial College are currently developing devices that run from the power they emit. This technology creates self-powered devices, which would eliminate the need for an external charger. For small electronic devices, the outer shell would be made out of this material and would serve as the charging element. Researchers are particularly optimistic and excited about the impact this technology could have on the car industry. Roofs, car doors, hoods, and other external parts of the car created from this material would eliminate the need to recharge hybrid car batteries 16.

Municipal Waste Into Fuel
In 2006, the U.S. Department Of Energy reported that U.S. landfills contained 140 million tons of residual biomass. The U.S. Military recently tested Green Power Inc's waste to fuel technology in order to validate its effectiveness and practicality. GPI's biomass to fuel plant in Pasco, Washington turns solid waste and other live feedstock into high-grade fuels. The technology can help replace fossil fuel oil with oil produced from garbage. This process is ideal since there will never be a shortage of garbage, as long as humans continue to exist. The military confirmed GPI's claims that the biomass plant can process 100 tons of waste per day, which can be converted to 1240 gallons of Naphtha, 3700 gallons of Kerosene, 6900 gallons of Diesel and 3000 gallons of Fuel Oil 17.

Algae Into Power
In 2009, the Venetian Port Authority in Venice, Italy authorized an extensive renewable energy project with the Solena Group to turn algae into energy. The process behind Solena's technology involves growing the algae in plastic cylinders. The cylinders are supplied with water, carbon dioxide and natural sun. The biomass created from this process is then converted into a synthetic natural gas. The CO2 that is generated from burning the gas is fed back into the initial process. Experts claim that each acre of algae cultivation can potentially yield thousands of gallons of oil per year 18. At the US Department Of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, increased research efforts are being initiated to identify and characterize the most favorable strains of algae for fuel production 19.

Generators Powered By Cow Dung
Dean Kamen, the engineer and inventor of the Segway self-balancing personal transportation device, is working on new devices to solve the clean drinking water and electricity crisis in third world countries. In 2005, Kamen ran a six-month field test trial of a new device, an electric generator running on cow dung. Each machine continually produced 1 kilowatt of electricity, which is enough to power 70 energy-efficient low watt lightbulbs 20. This might not seem like much, but it is enough power to provide poor villages with the luxury of electricity without contributing additional emissions.


1. "A Breakthrough Technology To Recycle CO2 Into Fuel," Carbon Sciences Inc. [source]

2. "How We Deliver Greater Freedom From An Increasingly Uncertain Energy Supply." Alliance Recovery Corporation, [source]

3. "Making Waves In Power," Ocean Power Technologies. [source]

4. "Oregon gets first U.S. wave-power farm," USA Today, 17 February 2010. [source]

5. "Motion Power," New Energy Technologies. [source]

6. "N.J. Burger King Testing Energy-Producing Speed Bump," Fox News, 04 September 2009. [source]

7. "Solar Energy From Tobacco Plants May Be A Reality Soon," Alternative Energy News, 9 February 2010. [source]

8. "Waste To Fuel: A Future To Our World," Green Power Inc.. [source]

9. "Technology - The C3 Process." Qteros. [source]

10. "Getting BioFuel From The World's Garbage," Alternative Energy News, 1 October 2009. [source]

11. "Turning Wastewater Into Ethanol," Alternative Energy News, 19 October 2009. [source]

12. Thomas, Justin, "Crowd Power: The Latest In Renewable Energy," Treehugger, 27 June 2006. [source]

13. "Tiago Barros + Jorge Pereira: Cross-Wind Bridge, " Design Boom, 26 October 2009. [source]

14. "Extraordinary New Green Energy Innovation," The New Ecologist, 02 December 2009. [source]

15. "Converting Light To Energy - Anywhere," Konarka Technologies Inc. [source]

16. "New Battery Technology Could Lead To Self-Powered Devices," Alternative Energy News, 22 February 2010. [source]

17. Allan, Sterling D, "GPI's Waste-To-Fuel Process Validated By U.S. Military," Pure Energy Systems, 19 February 2010. [source]

18. Boyle, Alan, "Green Power From Algae?" MSNBC Cosmic Log, 30 March 2009. [source]

19. Verrengia, Joseph B, "Algae-to-Fuel Research Enjoys Resurgence at NREL," Renewable Energy World, 16 April 2009. [source]

20. Schonfeld, Erick, "Segway creator unveils his next act," CNN, 16 February 2006. [source]