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Top 10 Emerging Environmental Technologies

Make Oil from Just about Anything: By adding sufficient heat and pressure, any carbon-based waste—from turkey guts to used tires—can be turned into oil through a chemical process like how nature makes oil. Supporters claim that a ton of turkey waste can be turned into about 600 pounds of petroleum.

Remove the Salt: According to the United Nations, water supply shortages will affect billions of people by the middle of this century. Desalination removes the salt and minerals from seawater, providing drinkable water where supplies are limited.

The 'H' Power: Hydrogen fuel cells make water by combining hydrogen and oxygen, generating electricity as a pollution-free alternative to fossil fuels. Some processes for extracting hydrogen require using other energy sources, which take away the advantages of this "clean" fuel. Car companies are promising that soon cars will emit nothing but clean water.

Sunny New Ideas: The sun's energy can be converted into electricity or heat. Solar collectors are already used successfully by energy companies and individual homeowners. Part of the challenge involves willingness from governments to support solar energy.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC): The biggest solar collector on Earth is the ocean. OTEC technologies take the energy contained in the oceans and turn it into electricity by using the temperature difference between the water's surface, which is heated, and the cold of the ocean's bottom. This difference in temperature can operate turbines to drive generators.

Harness Waves and Tides: Large waves contain energy that can run turbines, which then turn this mechanical power into electrical energy that can then be stored.

Plant Your Roof: Roof gardens help absorb heat, reduce the carbon dioxide impact by taking up CO2 and giving off oxygen, absorb storm water, and reduce summer air conditioning usage. They lessen the "heat island" effect that occurs in urban centers. Butterflies and songbirds could also visit urban garden roofs.

Let Plants and Microbes Clean Up: Bioremediation uses microbes and plants to clean up contamination. Native plant species can be used because they usually don't require pesticides or watering. Scientists are trying to genetically modify plants to take up contaminants in their roots and transport it to the leaves for easy harvesting.

Bury the Bad Stuff: Carbon dioxide is the prominent greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. One method to dispose of the gas is to separate the CO2 from other emission gases and then bury it in abandoned oil wells, saline reservoirs, and rocks. Scientists are not sure of the long-term effects.

Make Paper Obsolete: Electronic paper is a flexible display that looks very much like real paper but can be reused. It contains many tiny microcapsules filled with particles that carry electric charges. Each microcapsule has white and black particles that are associated with either a positive or negative charge. When charges are applied, different patterns are displayed.


Source: Top 10 Emerging Environmental Technologies
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