By Evan Ackerman
It’s such an effort to be environmentally conscious these days. What with my gadget freak lifestyle, eco-friendly power isn’t very practical. Luckily, some awfully smart people are thinking ahead, and two futuristic clean energy possibilities presented themselves this week. The first is a new type of solar panel film that should do more than assuage enviroguilt, in that it has the potential to provide power at $0.50 per watt, whereas current (and dirty) sources like coal and oil cost $1 per watt. It’s cheap and flexible enough for the designers to suggest that it could be built into electronics, buildings, and fabric. Look for it in 5-10 years.
The other technology, even more futuristic, is a protein found in your ear (seriously) that is able to convert motion into electricity. Although a proof of concept has yet to be developed, designers suggest that the protein “may be 10,000 times more efficient at generating power than the best manmade material.” It also has the potential to be self assembling and self repairing, and can be applied to any surface that’s likely to move. Look for it first in Mars spacesuits.
So okay, neither of these things is going to be practical for a little while, but rabid duck-squeezing Oregonians like myself (who have seizures if we get more than 50 feet from a recycle bin and can link telepathically with salmon) get a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that clean power for our USB air purifiers is on the way.