Top 10 Emerging Technologies

A couple of weeks ago the World Economic Forum published a document on its blog called “The top 10 emerging technologies for 2013”. I thought it might be interesting to have a look at what they say. The article can be read here. The comments are my own interpretation however.

World Economic Forum

1. Online Electric Vehicles.

About 100 years ago a scientist called Tesla demonstrated that electricity could be provided wirelessly. Today there is an idea that electric cars could drive while being recharged from electromagnetic fields created from cables under the road. The cars would need much smaller batteries of course.

The problem with this technology seems to be that it is difficult to measure how much power is taken, so difficult to bill for, nothing more than that. Take a look at this article about other ways of cutting pollution from transport systems.

2. 3D printing and remote manufacturing.

Much has been written and the technology undoubtedly carries advantages, but did you read my post about 3D printers potentially being used to make gun parts?

3. Self Healing Materials.

A great idea but this and other uses of nanotechnology and its production practices need to be regulated, as does the disposal of such materials. We don’t know enough about the effects upon human health as the recent report cited in another post on this blog demonstrates.

4. Energy Efficient Water Purification.

Must be a good thing. Some of Christopher’s thoughts on the issue here.

5. Carbon Dioxide conversion and use.

Geo-engineering offers the possibility of drawing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it underground, but this technology is extremely controversial. This article entitled Engineering a Solution to Global Warming gives an idea of some of the ethical debate surrounding such processes.

6. Enhanced nutrition to drive health.

Genetic modification of plants to make them more nutritional. Much has been written about the GM issue, it is certainly not as simple as it may sound. Great commercial interests are involved, as are problems of cross fertilization and non-reproducibility. See this article on the Bassetti Foundation website about the Vatican and its interests in the problem.

7. Remote sensing.

The buzz-phrase Smart City is all over nowadays. Have a look at this article for some ideas of how using sensors might improve urban life.

8. Precise drug delivery through nanoscale engineering.

Medicine is the area in which nanotechnology research shows its greatest potential. The problems of regulation still exist as brought up in the article above, but the possible advantages for society make this type of research extremely valuable.

9. Organic electronics and photovoltaics.

This article mentions solar panels made using fruit and vegetable juice instead of silicon, and the printing of circuits using organic materials is already a reality. Silicon is more efficient at the moment, but expensive, polluting and will eventually run out, but if scale is not a problem these solutions work well.

10. Fourth generation nuclear reactors and waste recycling.

Making nuclear energy cleaner and better is the goal. The questions of safety and sustainability as well as real cost are not raised however, again not an argument that can be expanded upon too much as it is extremely polarized, but there are cleaner and safer ways to produce electricity as the article about electricity generation cited above shows.

Well it looks like we got most of it covered at Technology Bloggers anyway, cutting edge as we are.

What renewable energy will you be looking into?

The recent government incentive to promote ecological mind sets in the home is good news for the environment. Householders will be offered loans to deck out their homes with energy-saving appliances and equipment, including extra insulation and new boilers.

So what exactly do you need for your home?

Loft Insulation

If you’ve no loft insulation in your house, you could be losing up to a quarter of your home’s heat through the roof.

Most newer buildings are built to a standard taking into account this loss, but if you have a home that’s a little older, chances are you’re wasting all that lovely warmth and putting yourself out of pocket.

The Green Deal will provide owners of uninsulated homes the chance to reduce the energy used in heating by proving loft insulation.

Wall Insulation

You could be looking at losing up to a third of your home’s heat through uninsulated walls. Cavity walls are much more energy efficient than the solid walls of older houses, and if your home was built before around 1940, it’s more likely to have the latter.

With good wall insulation, you’re looking at making a real saving in energy bills so it’s a good idea to find out if you’re equipped to keep all the heat in your home.

Boilers

According to energy efficiency ratings, a band A boiler is 20% more energy and cost effective and a band G one. It’s usually the older boilers branded with the G rating.

If your boiler is outdated, you could be losing a lot of money from it. Modern, band A boilers have an energy efficiency rating of 90% and allow you to keep much better tabs on your energy use. It’s worth investing in thermostatic radiator valves so rooms that aren’t being used aren’t heated too.

Katy Jones at Dulas had this to say of the feed-in tariff scheme:

“The feed in tariff incentive from the UK government is encouraging many people to consider installing renewable energy technologies; it will naturally mean that some renewables companies also look to offer energy efficiency measures as part of their product portfolios.”

One single wind turbineProducts which will include solar panels. Fitted onto the roof, solar panels are capable of generating renewable energy for the home. And if they are producing more energy than your household needs, you can sell that energy back to the National Grid.

From our perspective,” Ms. Jones continues, “Solar PV is a viable, cost effective way to generate free electricity and is especially good for high energy users looking to reduce their energy costs or with Carbon Reduction Commitments to meet.

Other renewable energy sources will include micro wind turbines, which will be accepted on the Green Deal. Though they are a little small to provide all of your energy, it’s the little things that make a big difference to an energy bill.

With the government backing you, it’s never been a better time to look into renewable energy.

Win a Solar Go Go Car to celebrate The Future Car Challenge

Petrol cars have no future. That is a fact, in 50 years time there will be no crude oil left on planet earth (assuming current consumption rates don’t decrease) therefore there will be no oil left to make petroleum or diesel.

Biofuel, hydrogen, LPG and electric cars are the future, there is no doubt about that. Right now there are many hybrid cars which use petrol with another power source, but in the future, petrol from natural oil will be no more.

There are of course other ways you can power cars, using compressed air is one method as is water-cell technology. These are not however currently concepts in mass production. If you follow those two links, you will find posts written by Jonny on the concepts mentioned.

Arguably the greenest option for the future is electric cars. The electricity used to power the cars can be generate from renewable sources, (it isn’t necessarily, but that is an option) and electricity from renewables is a lot less damaging to the planet than energy generated from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – be it in on the micro scale inside an engine of a car, or on a macro scale in a network of power stations.

Electric cars are starting to look more and more normal, (in the past some have looked somewhat abstract!) and are becoming more efficient every year.

The Future Car Challenge

This year, British Gas (the company who installed Remote Heating Control in my home) became an official partner of The Future Car Challenge. The Future Car Challenge is an annual event, which showcases the latest developments in the electric car industry. This year, members from the British Gas team drove fro Brighton up to London, with the aim of using the least amount of energy as possible, using the latest electric cars. The team included comedian Robert Llewellyn, Ben Collins, (A.K.A. ‘The Stig’), and Commonwealth gold medal swimmer Ross Davenport.

The Future Car Challenge Ross Davenport

Ross Davenport playing his part in the British Gas Future Car Challenge

British Gas are setting up a national charging network, to help increase the viability of electric cars. A charging network is as vital to electric cars as service stations are to petrol and diesel cars. Some electric cars do have the ability to transfer energy generate from breaking into electricity, (as seem in Formula 1 cars) however this alone isn’t enough to power them, so electric recharge points are essential.

Here is a statement from British Gas on their involvement with electric cars:

The Future Car Challenge Robert Llewellyn

Robert Llewellyn taking part in the Brighton to London Future Car Challenge

“British Gas is dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place now and in the future. We are leading the way in providing expertise and charging solutions in the Electric Vehicle market through partnering with Nissan, Renault, Hitachi Capital, Toyota and Vauxhall.

British Gas’ dedicated charging solutions are safer, convenient and more compatible than plugging electric vehicles directly into the mains supply socket at home. Not only do we offer charging solutions that can cut charging times by around a third, but British Gas also offers its customers specially designed tariffs to help them charge for less.”

For more information on The Future Car Challenge, check out this article on British Gas’s blog. The article also has an embedded video of the event.

The Giveaway

To celebrate the event, we have five solar power car sets to giveaway, courtesy of British Gas!

The prize is a John Lewis Solar Go Go Car, (click the link for more info) a cool kit from which you can build your own solar powered car! Okay it isn’t quite as good as an electric car, but it looks great fun, and could make a fantastic Christmas present…

John Lewis Solar Powered Car KitThe giveaway will run for 8 days, from today until the end of next Wednesday (12.00am on Thursday the 13th).

The prizes will be sent out by British Gas to the UK only, so if you don’t live in the UK I am afraid you can’t enter. If you have an address in the UK you can get the prize sent to if you win, you are in!

How To Enter

It is really easy to enter the competition, all you need to do is enter an email address we can contact you on (if you win) in the Rafflecopter widget below. If you like the blog on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or are subscribed to our feed via email, then you can gain some extra entries.

Want a Solar Go Go Car kit? Enter below!

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Winners will be emailed on Thursday the 13th to let them know that they have won, and will be announced on the blog shortly after.

Good luck everyone!