In the weeks leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, not only are delegates meeting and hammering out proposed climate plans, but scientists and researchers are increasingly testing and improving new clean energy technologies to cheaply and more efficiently tackle high CO2 emissions.
Although it’s still debated whether or not increased CO2 hurts or helps the environment, governments around the world are spending billions of dollars and investing in clean energy solutions. The United States has spent over $150 billion in the last five years on solar power and other renewable projects, financing grants, subsidizing tax credits, guaranteeing loans, and bailing out failed solar energy companies, according to the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy think tank.
The United States has made some records with a number of solar and wind installations in the past few years, and the nation has its share of new and improved solar, wind, and clean fuel inventions, but these three inventions are some of the next great things in the world of clean and green technology:
1. Scrubbing Mercury Pollution From the Environment
A scientist and lecturer at Southern Australia’s Flinders University gave a sneak preview of soon-to-be published research that shows how oil from an orange peel and other waste products can eliminate mercury from your water supply.
Justin Clark reported in an ILFScience.com article that he and a group of his colleagues unveiled a new material made by combining sulphur, a waste product of the petroleum industry, and limonene, found in the oil of an orange peel and other citrus fruits, which can remove more than 50 percent of mercury from water in a single treatment.
Mercury, a neurotoxin, is particularly dangerous for developing fetuses. The primary way it finds its way into people is through eating fish.
Humans have increased the concentrations of mercury in oceans by 10 percent since the Industrial Revolution, according to Clark’s report. Water supplies become contaminated with mercury through activities like manufacturing, mining, oil and gas extraction, and electricity generation.
2. Solar-Powered Water Purification System
Researchers at MIT have tried out their latest solar invention in the deep jungles of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. A remote village called La Mancalona got first dibs on a solar-powered water purification system about two years ago and it’s working. The system, which consists of two solar panels, first converts sunlight into electricity, which then powers a set of pumps that push water through semiporous membranes in a filtration process called reverse osmosis.
The invention purifies both well water and collected rainwater, producing about 1,000 quarts of purified water a day for 450 residents.
3. Solar-Powered Contact Lens
Recently, Google was awarded a patent for a solar-powered contact lens that can communicate with computers and collect biological data about the wearer, including internal body temperature and blood alcohol level, according to a Tech Insider report.
The lenses are equipped with photo detector sensors and solar cells that give them the capability to access power from the sun, which enables them to constantly perform a number of tasks.
The original contact lens project, announced in 2014, was intended to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and a tiny glucose sensor. But now, the sensors could possibly sense allergens like grass or tree pollen, pet dander, and dust mite excretions.
Although there are no guarantees, the patent states that the lens could enable the wearer to read information in barcodes, or be used to verify the wearer’s identity.