- Issue: Energy and water
The number one source of energy uses fossil fuels, which are natural resources that are increasingly becoming scarce. It is difficult for new potential sources of energy to be created in a sustainable way that reuses a natural resource. The issue regarding water is the environmental problem of smaller bodies of water becoming evaporated and nonexistent.
- Water evaporation as a power source
- Columbia University researchers are working on an energy source using water vapor. Water evaporation is a form of solar energy and, on a small scale, can be harnessed and then utilized to power small devices.
- Researchers are using bacteria that naturally absorbs water really well. When the bacteria absorbs water, it swells; when it loses water, it contracts. This acts as a small muscle, which the team is using to power the small machines.
- While at the beginning stages, this has the potential to be extremely effective due to the very low cost of the project.
- Stakeholders: energy utilities, homeowners, energy consumers, etc.
- In order to deploy this technology, researchers would have to genetically modify the spores used so they do not germinate into bacteria. Then, an in-land body of water, i.e. a reservoir, would need to be covered with a water evaporation-powered machine. This will lead to two advantages: the power generated from the machine and the slowing down of the evaporation process for the body of water.