Power Derived from Humidity Could Be the Next Big Source

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Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

water vapor, climate change, alternative power sources

Photo courtesy of Bob Fosbury via Flickr

  • Power derived from humidity could be the next big source of energy: Researchers from the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University developed a new type of electrical generator that uses bacterial spores to harness the untapped power of evaporating water. According to the project leader Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., water evaporation is a huge and untapped power source already at work in nature. “Evaporation is happening all around us all the time, as an essential part of the Earth’s water cycle.” Based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey, oceans, seas, lakes and rivers provide nearly 90 percent of the moisture in the atmosphere through evaporation, with the remaining 10 percent being contributed by plant transpiration. This phenomena of rising water vapors from the ocean, eventually settling as snow on the world’s highest peaks inspired Sahin to think about humidity and evaporation as a source of energy. He foresees electrical generators driven by changes in humidity from sun-warmed ponds and harbors.
  • California’s water crisis also threatens beer quality: As a result of the ongoing drought across the state of California, the production of crafted beers might suffer along with farming, water supplies and public health. Many Californian breweries such as Lagunitas Brewing Company in Sonoma County make their beer with water from The Russian River- a 110-mile waterway providing drinking water for more than half a million people. But due to the extended drought and 2013 being the driest year ever recorded in California, many small breweries might need to switch from the river water to well water, sacrificing taste of their beer and potentially their business.
  • The C40 climate leadership summit suggests solutions for future cities: The recent summit of C40 Cities Mayors in Johannesburg brought together members of more than 45 cities worldwide who are committed to combating climate change and advancing urban sustainability. Among the main subjects of this conference were three serious challenges to creating sustainable cities-an increasing motorization, traffic safety and air quality. These challenges can only be met if city leaders (both members and non-members of the C40) take a few immediate steps to improve climate resiliency and livability through sustainable transport. These steps include: thinking holistically, acting strategically and a greater leadership.
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