One of the most exciting things about technology is that it is always advancing, thanks to brilliant minds that are always curious and hungry for more. When a new milestone is achieved and a once-inconceivable idea takes shape—and even begins to hit the mainstream—it almost feels like things can’t evolve further. But they can, and they do.
Take electricity. People have continued to advance ways of producing, distributing, installing and using electricity. And it’s been nearly 300 years.
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The electricity we use has a dual dimension—both as a basic part of nature and one of the most-used forms of energy. It is a secondary energy source because it is produced by converting primary sources of energy such as coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, solar energy and wind energy into electrical power.
A new source of renewable energy is currently under careful observation. Scientists at the Neutrino Energy Group, a research institute in Berlin, Germany, call it neutrinovoltaic energy. At the core of this new energy lies the neutrino particle, a tiny subatomic particle emitted along with an electron during the decay process, discovered at the beginning of the 20th century. A worldwide team of scientists, various international research centers and universities, and the U.S. Department of Energy, which has announced massive neutrino research programs, have started studying the neutrino in earnest. They have found that neutrinovoltaic technology presents a solution that never stops working as these invisible particles bombard the Earth in equal numbers every moment of every day.
Neutrino energy is the equivalent of harvesting energy from our surroundings, regardless of weather conditions, and can pass through almost every substance known to science. In addition, this type of technology harnesses the untapped power of electrosmog, which is the electromagnetic energy produced by man-made electronic devices.
Existing sustainable energy technologies are severely limited by environmental factors. For instance, it is generally believed that photovoltaic arrays are three times more efficient during the summer months than they are during the dark winter months and, in the Northern Hemisphere, these reach peak output only between May and September.
This novel neutrinovoltaic energy, on the other hand, doesn’t need anything—except for some more research. So far, research shows that it operates independently from seasonal shifts and any other factor. Neutrinovoltaic cells, unlike solar cells, can be stacked up one on top of the other, with the bottom cells generating as much electrical power as the cells on top.
This technology has been tested and demonstrated to work in laboratory settings at the University of Chicago. So far, it can only derive small amounts of electricity from passing neutrinos, but scientists expect that this new energy technology will be capable of powering small devices such as smartphones within just a few years. Eventually, it could become one of the main renewable energy sources. This bodes well with the ongoing trend of devices requiring lower energy consumption.
Today’s electronics require less electricity to operate than the devices and appliances of 10 years ago, and it’s safe to say that a decade from now, devices will require even less energy. In less than a half a century, every light bulb will be LED and electronic devices will take up less than a quarter of their current energy consumption. By that time, the Neutrino Energy Group expects neutrinovoltaic technology to be fully accessible and dispersed throughout consumer populations, commercial properties, transportation fleets and other components of future society.
Solar throughout centuries
“One man’s magic is another man’s engineering. ‘Supernatural’ is a null word.” – Robert Heinlein
The photovoltaic effect was first discovered by French physicist Edmond Becquerel in 1839. A while later, in 1873, Willoughby Smith discovered that selenium could function as a photoconductor. Three years later, William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day applied the photovoltaic effect discovered by Becquerel to selenium and noted that it could generate electricity when exposed to light. Almost 50 years later, in 1883, American inventor Charles Fritz, created the first working selenium solar cell, the major predecessor to the technology used today.
Albert Einstein, too, had a role in spotlighting solar energy—in 1905, he published a paper on the photoelectric effect and how light carries energy. His work generated attention and acceptance of the solar power concept.
The biggest leap in solar power and solar cells advancement occurred in 1954, when three scientists from the Bell Labs—Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller and Gerald Pearson—created a solar cell using silicon, which was more practical as silicon features better efficiency and is much more available as a natural resource. The solar panel was invented in 1958 and used on the Vanguard I satellite, followed by Vanguard II, Explorer III and Sputnik-3.
It was just in the 1990s when solar photovoltaic cells entered widespread consumer use and throughout its history, solar cell technology has had its share of skepticism. Yet, today, homes and businesses feed of solar power, at prices that slowly but surely demolish the reign of fossil fuel industry. A similar path lies ahead of neutrinovoltaic technology.