Tuesday, January 28, 2014
One of the biggest problems with solar power today is the batteries, the most efficient of which are the lithium ion variety. These batteries are highly toxic and contain nickel and cobalt, rare metals that require environmentally damaging mining operations to extract. So is solar power forever doomed to be linked with rare toxic metals and environmental destruction?
Just recently a team of scientists working at Virginia Tech created a battery using sugar to store energy at never before seen density. Whats amazing is that the battery is refillable, biodegradable and more powerful than a conventional toxic metal battery. This could very well be the innovation solar power has been waiting for.
Here is an article about the creation:
Ultimately, the electric car industry may come to be the major beneficiary of this technology, what is needed are powerful, safe, energy dense and reusable batteries, this is exactly what the sugar battery is. With this major stumbling block out of the way, we could see electric cars and solar stations replacing all gasoline cars and gas stations within the next decade or two.
Replacing gasoline cars with electric is one of the most important steps to help mitigate climate change. Electric cars also fit well with the concept of using decentralized solar panels to power homes, meaning cars will probably recharge in your garage instead of a centralized station. This also means you won't have to pay for electricity or gasoline ever again, everything will be generated during the day on your rooftop.
This is what the sugar battery or something equivalent could accomplish, it would make solar the most efficient option for powering the worlds homes and vehicles. It could even make possible some fantastic ideas pitched by notorious business man Elon Musk, such as and electric plane and a giant cross country tube transport system dubbed the "Hyperloop"
This and more is possible, as the efficiency of electronics grows along with the power of batteries, it will be more and more possible to create autonomous gadgets, this has exciting potential for camping gear. Add in nano materials and forget it, were talking cheap thin rope that can hold multiple tons, bright LEDs that are super efficient, batteries that run for a month and fit in your pocket,water filters that can make any water drinkable, and camp stoves that generate electricity from fire.
The only thing that is missing is housing, one of the most interesting ideas for futuristic dwelling is the concept of an inflatable structure made of super strong nano materiel. The building could be deflated and rolled up for travel, then re inflated where you want. The inflated pressure could be relatively large because of the strength of the material, so the structure is sturdy despite being inflated with air.
Another radical idea is to build floating homesteads on the water, people could link these floating homesteads together to create ocean cities. These cities could be semi autonomous in nature in that each person could come or go as they pleased, meaning that staying within a community was entirely voluntary and so acts as vote of confidence in the system of government. This would create a sort of evolutionary pressure on governments to exercise fair play or risk citizens disembarking for more progressive or more responsible communities.
The inflatable homestead also would lead to a more democratic influence upon systems of government, based on the fact that people can leave a totalitarian state without leaving their home behind. People could become more nomadic in general all while achieving a standard of living equal to or higher than the middle class today.
So what will people do when they can do anything? I choose to believe they will do whatever it is that gives them purpose or pleasure, everyone is different and each person has a creative aspect that they exercise, whether society values this creative expression or not. Autonomous dwelling could create a scenario where every person is free to express their creative instinct without fear of being economically punished by society. This is an essential factor in releasing humanities repressed potential and creating a society free from poverty and violent crime.