Using the energy captured from the sun during the day, sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly areas can be lit up at night. “Starpaths” are created by spraying the surface with Pro-Teq. It consists of a polyurethane glue base, followed by the particles, followed by a biodegradable sealant. At night, it looks like a path right out of Alice in Wonderland. Considering our street lamps aren’t very reliable, this would be a easy way to keep the walkways lit in the dark evenings.
Falling Sand Energy
Danielle Trofes uses the energy from falling sand to light LEDs. Although the fixture needs to be flipped to keep it working, it’s a simple solution to an electric problem we face in the land of generators. Many product designers use the principle of harnessing kinetic energy from basic movements in order to have a self-sustaining product. Check out the Soccket and the Voltmaker. No need for external sources of electricity when it’s power source is built in.
To power public spaces and parks – yes, I still have hope – Morodavaga swings can be set up. As the riders swing back and forth, energy is created. The system was created as an installation for the Pop Up Culture program by Guimarães, in Portugal. Simple swing sets with this technology could be used and be the power source for the lights within parks.
Algae Powered Lamps and Light Sources
By inserting nanoelectrodes into the chloroplasts of algae, a small current can be drawn from them while they photosynethsize. The simple process allows the organism to create energy for a battery which can be used later. Peter Horvath’s biolamps also depend on liquid algae to purify the air. The biomass produced from the process is used as biofuel that power the street lamp. Solar trees can also replace street lamps but we have something resembling that installed in certain areas of the country. Whether or not your district has them depends on your governing municipality.
Double-Sided Solar Panels
USA’s SunPower Design designed a carport that has a canopy of solar panels above it. The panels provide shade for the cars while being able to generate power for 200 homes nearby. What makes this carport so special is that the panels are designed in a way that allows them to capture light from both sides. The fabric underneath reflects the light onto the backside of the panels so you end up with double the energy. Solar panels, however, need to be cleaned regularly so that they absorb as much sunlight as possible. Stanford University researchers had the idea of using the water than runs off the panels to cultivate agave (the plant that makes tequila). In our case, we could incorporate this method to create root systems that “help keep soil in place and prevent erosion.” Or we can just use it to grow hashish.