This Building Is Completely Powered By Algae

This Building Is Completely Powered By Algae


This episode of DNews is brought to you by
the U.S. Air Force. Energy can come from anywhere! Food, footwear,
even fruit! And these kids took the time to try it. Renewable energy is a huge issue for the United
States, and other countries. Fuels based on compressed biomatter are finite and release
millions of tons of carbon emissions. It’s common to think we won’t have to deal with
the consequences of dumping all this pollution into the air, but we’ve already started. I
don’t know about YOU but when I was a kid, I was a total environmentalist. I thought
we could cure it all with a little elbow grease, and it would seem times haven’t changed. I
was looking through all the finalists of this year’s Google Science Fair and of the 115
finalist nominated projects — 15 of them were all about renewable energy! A set of twins from California wanted to help
Greek yogurt companies use their microbes to generate power. Three students from Singapore
wanted to capture excess thermoelectric heat from power planet to generate MORE electricity.
A kid in Indonesia who likes bicycling wanted to create a power generator following in the
technology of a wind turbine! And those are just from the ones I understood! There were also two high school kids from
the US who want to maximize solar powered photoelectrochemical hydrogen generation using
gold nanostructures, or the girl from Oregon whosw research is trying to design a feasible
multijunction quantum dot solar cell by designing a computer program to track 10 million photons
as they interact with her design. Seriously, renewable energy is big business AND big for
research and development. There are kids trying to get electricity from
tomatoes, shoes, pots and pans, floor tiles, even the bacteria in Kimchi!! YES! Kimchi,
the fermented cabbage that my old roommate Joe LOVED. I don’t so much, but it can, apparently,
be useful for energy production. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and I’m happy
to say that it’s not just the kids of today. For instance, experiments in using algae for
electrical power have been going on since the 1970s, around the same time as the first
Earth Day. Just last year, the same design and engineering firm that did the Sydney Opera
House completed a 15-unit apartment building in Hamburg, Germany that’s powered by ALGAE
stored in tanks on the exterior of the structure. These large sunny windowpane-lined tanks that
line the sun-facing sides of the building contain microalgae which converts the sun’s
energy into oily lipid molecules and gases that can be used to create energy. The algae
tanks bubble with activity throughout the day and also provide shade from the sun for
the residents. Occasionally, excess algae is gathered and converted directly into biomass
for energy. The apartment building has been operating
now for over a year, and according to a report in Fast Company, the residents inside it are
pretty happy. The point is, the dream of renewable energy
doesn’t die – it just gets better with every generation. One day the kids who entered the
Google Science Fair competition will take their ideas and future-facing energy solutions
to their colleges, universities and, hopefully, engineering and energy firms. They’re going
to change the world, I just know it. Just like Google, the U.S. Air Force has an
eye on the future, too. I wanna give a quick shout out to them for supporting DNews. The
U.S. Air Force is passionate about innovation, breaking barriers and using science and technology
to push the limits of what’s possible. They were the first to break the sound barrier
in 1947, and they’re still pushing today. Did you ever invent something? A helmet with
a magnifying glass holder? A wheelchair that could lift itself up?

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