Posted on 28th March 2017 by Alex Heys
While it doesn’t always seem like it when you look at the actions of governments and organisations, the world is growing increasingly environmentally conscious. The popularity of green products and green thinking waxes and wanes but we now seem to be in a definite upswing. Of course, while public opinion might change, many scientists have believed in the inevitability of climate change and the necessity of fossil fuel alternatives for decades. We all know about their achievements in solar, wind and wave power. However, there are other innovations that think slightly more outside the box. Below we take a look at five quirky inventions that allow anyone, committed environmentalist or not, to convert other forms of energy into usable power to make a difference – however small!
1. Body heat
We all know how hot the London underground can get. Crammed like sardines into packed carriages on our daily commute, some of us may have questioned: where does all this body heat go? Former Mayor Boris Johnson had the answer. He announced that in the capital, excess heat from the underground tunnel network, together with the heat generated from an electric substation, would be funnelled into British homes. So next time you’re stuck on the tube, just think that your discomfort is fuelling a Londoner’s radiators, saving money on energy bills while helping the environment.
Whoever would have guessed that going clubbing would be doing your bit for the environment? Club Watt, a nightclub in the Netherlands, has found a way of using floor vibrations from people walking and dancing to power its lights. The floor of the club is made up of piezoelectric materials that produce an electric charge when placed under stress.
Japan is using the same piezoelectric technology as the Netherlands in order to generate electricity. Tokyo has installed these innovative tiles in public spaces across the capital, including in underground stations, airports and shopping centres. With millions of people commuting around the capital on a daily basis, an impressive amount of power can be generated to fuel public facilities.
4. Pee power
A prototype toilet has been launched on a UK university campus to demonstrate that urine can generate electricity. Enough electricity in fact, to power indoor lighting. Students at the University of the West of England are hopeful that the technology can be developed by aid agencies on a larger scale to bring light to refugee camp toilets in disaster zones. Presumably they’ve been spending a decent amount of time in the student union bar in order to be able to generate enough urine to continue their experiments.
In India, street lights glow on electricity generated from vegetable waste. With the UK facing a challenge of excess supermarket waste, maybe we should be taking a leaf out of India’s book when it comes to finding original ways of creating renewable energy while harnessing waste products.