The kinetic and biochemical energy of living organisms are both forms of electricity that are ordinarily wasted and could be intelligently harvested if the proper situation were to be set up to capitalize on their usefulness. Piezoelectric energy is one potentially important form of new energy production that runs off the motion of human beings and other organisms in motion to compress crystals that generate a voltage or electric potential. In addition, there is the possibility that micro algae fuel cells will become viable in the near future and give us a lasting, sustainable form of electrical energy generation. While there are a wide variety of biologically powered energy creation techniques, here are a few select varieties that are possible now.

Piezoelectric energy generation, also called piezoelectric energy harvesting, uses the kinetic energy of people or things in motion and converts that mechanical energy into electricity. It does this by taking advantage of the piezoelectric effect, often observed in crystals. Basically a crystal ordinarily of quartz but often of other differing materials, will create a small voltage or electrical potential difference when a force or pressure is applied to it. Knowing this, beds of crystals can be set up under say, a sidewalk or in a gym, creating small direct electrical currents when people are walking or running across them. Hook this up to a battery or straight to a grid, and one can create instant electricity.

Another promising technological avenue may well be microbial fuel cells. Unlike hydrogen fuel cells, these can be very energy non-intensive and actually create quite a bit of excess power. It works as follows. The fuel cell takes chemical energy from a biomass substrate and converts it to electricity through the oxidation and reduction of said substrates on both anodes and cathodes by microbiotic bacteria, creating a flow of electrons in a circuit that can be tapped for electrical power. In the process, methane and other gases can be produced that are also potent sources of energy. While still largely in the developmental phase, they do appear to be far more promising than hydrogen fuel cells.

 

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In addition, one rather surprising energy harvesting technique, while most likely not applicable on the same scale as the previous examples, is the use of trees to power sensors, GPS devices, and other extraneous electrical components. In a nutshell, a nail or other metallic input is set into a tree, with a wire running to the ground. Due to pH imbalances between the inner fluids of the tree and the ground, which is essentially a function of charge concentration, and therefore electric potential, a current is created in this crude circuit that can be connected to a motion sensor on a national border or a homing beacon for geolocation.

These are but a few of the applications of completely renewable, sustainable energy generation. While it's not likely that many of these methods, if any, will substantially solve our energy problems, they can add to the supply. These micro-niche sources of power can only help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels that aren't easily reproduced and can be costly to obtain. The great thing is that these sources of power don't require large infrastructures of production and can be done by any home inventor or innovator, leading to a more decentralized power system that is easy on the environment and energy efficient to boot.

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