Innovative ways to generate, transmit and store energy are being tested and developed at an ever-increasing rate, with new products set to roll out in 2014. Building on recent news of new funding to help speed the development of fuel cell technology, here are three other clean tech trends to watch.
Next generation batteries
This year could deliver real breakthroughs in the development of a new generation of batteries to support and expand the power grid. Many companies are developing new technologies that they hope to bring to market soon.
- Aquion Energy is using salt, water and other low-cost materials to build a sodium battery that’s stackable and scalable, so it can be adjusted to suit the amount of power needed.
- Ambri recently opened a new factory for the manufacture of its liquid metal battery; it uses a layer of salt sandwiched between two layers of molten metal.
- Eos Energy is working with New York-based utility Con Edison to scale up production of its low-cost zinc-air batteries.
Tidal energy to make more waves
Tidal energy has tremendous potential, largely unexplored so far, for clean energy production. This technology may get a boost with a new collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Australia’s Victorian Wave Partners: the largest wave energy project in the world. The 62.5-megawatt peak power wave energy generation project will be built off the coast of Victoria, Australia, and is expected to produce enough electricity to power about 10,000 homes.
Advances in nanotechnology
Nanotechnology — the engineering of structures at a molecular level — will likely have a significant impact on sustainable technologies. Scientists and engineers continue to work on several areas, including:
- The creation of lighter, cheaper and better-performing energy storage solutions.
- The use of nanomaterials — which have unique electrical, thermal and optical properties — in computer chips, chemical sensors, batteries and other applications.
- The development of new carbon nanomaterials that can offer cost-effective, multifunctional performance across multiple clean tech applications.
Technologies will continue to converge
The convergence of these technologies will likely have major implications for clean tech — and the way we use it in modern buildings.
We’re already integrating sensors and smart grid technologies into design-build construction projects. The explosion of information and communication technologies makes connectivity a key consideration for new building designs.
It’s encouraging to see clean technologies advancing on so many fronts as we seek new and innovative ways to make the most of our resources. What other clean tech developments are on your radar screen as among the most innovative and exciting?