More interesting energy stories that you haven’t heard

Guest blog by Mr. R. U. Cirius: Here are some interesting and somewhat offbeat energy stories that haven’t gotten much media attention during the first three months of the year.

UoA Windship renewable energy vessel

Students from the University of Acadians (UoA), not to be outdone by their archrivals at the Massachusetts Technology Institute (MTI) (see story below), have turned their focus toward harnessing wind energy. Last year, after placing 20th of 20 teams at the Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition, the students decided their expertise was better suited to larger vessels. By focusing their collective background and skills on the problem, they developed a new, high-tech, 100% renewable fuel, cargo vessel which they have named Windship (see Fig. 1). They believe it will revolutionize marine transportation in the 21st century.

Fig. 1 (Credits: Fitz Henry Lane /wikipedia.org)

Click here to learn more about wind power.

Coal Slaw – a new high-energy and environmentally friendly food product

The researches from the Massachusetts Technology Institute (MTI) who brought you Coal Bricks from 2019 have now turned their focus to utilizing existing coal resources without increasing carbon dioxide emissions and addressing world hunger, simultaneously. Their new product, Coal Slaw, combines the energy content from anthracite coal dust and protein from cricket meal with the added polyisobutylene (for texture and “chewiness”) to create a tasty and healthy food product. Due to the low cost and wide availability of the respective ingredients, Coal Slaw can be produced in large quantities anywhere in the world. It doesn’t require refrigeration or any special handling and has a shelf life of over 1,000 years. The US military has taken notice and has begun to replace all its MREs with the new Coal Slaw packets.

Click here to learn more about coal power.

Foamcrete building products reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

CO2 Solutions, LLC, the start-up company that brought you Fizz Wizzie last year, has a new product that utilizes carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. Using the same revolutionary process that extracts CO2 from air as used to produce your favorite Fizz Wizzie drinks, CO2 Solutions can now create a CO2 infused concrete product called Foamcrete. The entrained carbon dioxide bubbles within the concrete matrix allow for a much lighter concrete building product. And the perfectly spherical shape of the bubbles allow for a surrounding concrete matrix that loses very little strength compared to a 100% concrete product. They have determined that approximate 30% CO2 to concrete, on a volumetric basis, is the sweet spot where the ratio of applied stress to net weight is maximum. Foamcrete can be easily formed into many different shapes for different construction applications. For site-specific applications, CO2 Solutions is currently developing on-site Foamcrete mixers that will allow compete flexibility in size and shape for your every construction need.

A new use for old wind turbine blades

Much has been written about the challenges of disposal of old wind turbine blades. Dr. Marko Ramius from the National Wind Energy Laboratory (NWEL), who last year identified the “turbulence boundary interface” that contributed to California’s record “superbloom” of wildflowers, has found a clever use for old wind turbine blades to keep them out of landfills. Dr. Ramius has demonstrated in the laboratory that the fiber-reinforced epoxy composite that is used for blades can be shredded into long moldable strips with extrememly high tensile strength that can be coated with synthetic rubber. The product is extremely durable and doesn’t degrade under heat or abrasion, which makes it an ideal material for automobile tires. He has filed for a patent application and trademark for Turbitires. Word on the street is that Tesla has already committed to purchases all he can produce as soon as a commercial scale process is up and running.

Click here to learn more about wind turbines.

What if a wind farm was a real farm?

The Temporal Technical University of Texas (colloquially referred to as “Tick-Tock-Tex”), located in Abilene, Texas, has been researching what to do with all the wind farms located in the area when they reach the end of their lives. One answer they’ve come up with is to remove the turbine blades but leave the towers in place as vertical farms for growing vegetables. Turbines consist of extremely tall shafts that create an enclosed environment, protected from the elements. The university researchers outfitted an abandoned tower with vertical vegetable racks and installed humidifying and drip water systems. They demonstrated that the environment was conducive for growing pole beans, climbing peas, vine tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, squashes, pumpkins, and even sweet potatoes.

Click here to learn more about wind turbines, and be sure to listen to the Dixie Chicks singing West Texas Wind.

And now for something completely different (and a bit less revolutionary)

How solar panels turn air into water

Source Hydropanels from Zero Mass Water can produce pure drinking water from air with no power required. These panels, which come in pre-assembled boxes, utilize solar panels to gather energy from the sun and increase the dew point inside the box. Each Hydropanel is 4 feet x 8 feet, and a standard array contains 2 Hydropanels. The standard array will produce on average 4-10 liters of water each day or between 8 and 20 16.9 oz standard water bottles, depending on sunshine and humidity, and the system will work even in very low humidity regions. Each Hydropanel holds 30 liters in a reservoir for a total of 60 liters for a standard array and can connect easily via a water line to your dispensing unit. For more information take a look at Ben Sullins’ (our favorite video blogger from Teslanomics) latest video. No joke here.