Nowadays we’re generating electricity from water and solar panels, but the question is whether we can continue to provide energy for the entire world with just that? Maybe we should start thinking of more ingenious possibilities to generate electricity to use on the road? Could we start generating energy from trees, plant roots and tents?Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have developed a prototype they like to call “energy harvesting trees.” The leaves on the trees generate and store solar power. The solar power can be used to power small appliances and mobile devices. The device can be used both indoors and outdoors and can harvest kinetic energy from wind and temperature changes as well. Each leaf on the tree contains a flexible organic solar cell, that’s easy to mass-produce. Each leaf contains its own power converter, resulting in the ability to collect energy from various sources (solar, wind, heat temperature) simultaneously. The trunks of the tree are replicated using wood-based biocomposites. (Eco-coach.com, 2015).This invention seems very useful to me. The many solar panels on the roofs you see nowadays, I think are very unsightly. The trees that generate energy will be much less noticeable and perhaps fully immerse in the nature around your house.
When I think of the sustainable city of the future there will be loads of those 3D printed trees that will just look like any other tree.
Another way of generating energy could be plant roots. Experiments have proven that plants can serve as a source of clean and renewable energy. As part of the European project PlantPower, researchers are studying whether this technology is suitable for large-scale applications.
Scientists all over the world are looking for alternatives to fossil fuels. Plant materials are already used as an energy source through bio-fermentation. Now it appears that living plants can also contribute to energy production. In a plant microbial fuel cell, living plants work together with micro-organisms to create electricity. This results in clean and renewable energy, while the plant remains alive (wageningenur.nl, 2016).
The third and final product I’d like to bring to your attention is a sustainable tent that collects rainwater, folds up for easy transport and stores solar energy. This is the invention of Jordanian-Canadian architect, designer and artist Abeer Seikaly. These amazing multipurpose tents were designed with refugees in mind, people who have been displaced by global and civil war, climate change and more.
Inspired by elements of nature such as snake skin and traditional cultural aspects such as weaving, nomadic life and tent dwellings, this weather proof, strong but lightweight and mobile fabric tent gives refugees shelter but also a chance to “weave their lives back together” (1millionwoman.com, 2016). These tents are not only great for the environment but also provide a descent home.