Some of today’s coolest green technology is being developed not by corporations, but college students. Be it for contests, class projects, or just plain old curiosity, students around the world are creating awesome energy-saving devices with wide-ranging consequences. Here are some of the most eye-catching examples.
(Images via DailyMail)
One of many problems facing developing countries is the difficulty of keeping food refrigerated under extreme weather conditions and fluctuating electricity. In response to this widespread problem, 21 year-old Leeds University student Emily Cummins has developed a solar powered refrigerator in hopes of helping starving Africans. According to DailyMail, Cummins’ eco-friendly fridge is powered by evaporation, can keep perishables cool for days, and holds a temperature of 6 degrees Celsius without using any power.
DIY solar cell oven
(Images via CleanTechnica, Zedomax)
While solar technology has been all the rage in developed countries, the fact that photovoltaic cells are typically produced in large manufacturing plants limits its availability in developing countries. However, if University of North South Wales PhD student Nicole Kuepper’s technology becomes widespread, this may no longer be a problem. The young student has developed a way to inexpensively create photovoltaic cells using, of all things, a pizza oven!
Scrap heap wind turbine
(Images via Mail Online)
Wind turbines aren’t exactly the simplest of green technologies, but thanks to the efforts of a 22 year-old college student, the one seen here “can be built by unskilled workers in less than a day anywhere in the world.” Using such common scrap items as bits of wood, wheel bearings and an old bicycle frame, Max Robson built a turbine capable of putting out 11.3 watts of electricity, or enough to power lights for almost 3 days. The cost of assembling this impromptu turbine? A mere 20 Euros. Not bad considering the next cheapest alternative costs roughly 2,000!
“Ventomobile” wind-powered car
(Images via ScienceDaily, Iconoclast)
It took 20 top aerospace engineering students at Stuttgart University, but the Ventomobile (shown here) took home top honors at August 2008’s Dutch Aeolus Race. The three-wheel wind powered vehicle is an encouraging glimpse into the future of alternative transportation!
Sustainable automated gardening
(Image via MIT)
One of the more physically-demanding and time-consuming aspects of gardening is all the manual labor. Since the dawn of time, a prosperous and bountiful garden has meant many man hours of toil across months. That may not be the case for much longer thanks to “precision agriculture”, a budding technology developed by MIT students that uses robotic arms and other “mechanical harvesting” techniques to more or less automate the process of keeping a garden.
Plastic bag eating microbe
(Image via Wired)
16 year-old Daniel Burd was not content to accept that plastic takes thousands of years to decompose. After some research and experimentation, Burd found that the process can indeed be sped up by isolating the bacteria responsible for the decomposing and mixing more of it with plastic. According to Wired, Burd’s quick decomposition solution should be relatively simple to roll out on a larger scale, “all that’s needed is a fermenter, a growth medium and plastic, and the bacteria themselves provide most of the energy by producing heat as they eat. The only waste is water and a bit of carbon dioxide.”Burd placed first in his science fair, earned $10,000 in prize money and snagged a $20,000 college scholarship for his efforts.
Biofuel producing algae
(Image via Bellingham Herald)
How great would it be to turn waste into something useful? If the amazing waste-into-energy system developed by three Bellingham high school students is any indication, the wait may be over. Calvin Atkins, Dylan Albrecht, and Sam Lewis split first price at Washington University’s highly competitive Imagine Tomorrow science competition. Their creation? An ingenious tubing system that uses algae to recycle carbon dioxide emissions into biofuel.
700% more efficient water desalination
(Image via TreeHugger)
Mohammed Rasool Qtaisha, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa, has created a water desalination system so amazing that there isn’t even a publicly available picture of it yet. All that is currently known is that Qtaisha’s system utilizes patent-pending membrane technology and solar power to produce “50 kilograms of water per metre square of the membrane per hour“, whereas current technology would be hard pressed to churn out even seven or eight kilograms.