Alternative Technologies


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Alternative technologies - Manufacturing or production methods that are less polluting and more resource efficient than the traditional methods. The term used to refer to technologies that are more environmentally friendly than the functionally equivalent technologies dominant in current practice.
Resilient  - adaptability, elastic- What does real resilience to climate extremes look like? It might come down to three things: the ability to adapt to changes, anticipate what might happen next and absorb shocks when they do come along.
The Alternative Technology (AT) movement took an explicit interest in the way technology could help deliver social and environmental goals.
 
Areas
Activists promoted technologies such as renewable energy; organic food production; autonomous eco-housing and communities; co-operatively operated workshops; small-scale infrastructures for water; and so on.
 
Alternative technologies include the following:
 

(A) Fuel and Energy

(i) Solar Energy
Solar energy is one the alternative energy source that is used most widely across the globe. Solar energy can be extracted either by Solar Thermal or using Photovoltaic (PV) Cells. Learn more about these methods here.
There are two kinds of solar energy the active solar energy and the passive solar energy. Passive solar energy basically uses duration, position and sun’s rays intensity to its advantage in heating a particular area. It also uses it to induce airflow from an area to the next. Active solar energy uses electrical technology and mechanical technology like collection panels in capturing, converting and storing of energy for future use.
Solar energy does not create any pollution and is widely used by many countries.


(ii) Wind Energy
This is one of the energy sources that have been in use for a very long time and for centuries. It was used in powering sailing ships, which made it possible for explorers to sail around their trade routes in distant lands. A single windmill can power the crop irrigation, and the family energy needs, water pumping and electric lights. However, in the present time there are several windmills that are used to generate required energy mostly for industrial uses. Many of the wind turbines can capture much power all at once before feeding it to the power grid. This is commonly known as wind farms and has been in use for many years all round the world.
 

(iii)Geothermal Energy
‘Geothermal energy means energy drawn or harnessed from beneath the earth. It is completely clean and renewable. Geothermal energy has been in used since last several years. The earth contains a molten rock called magma. Heat is continuously produced from there. The temperature increases about 3 degrees Celsius, for every 100 meters you go below ground. Below, 10,000 meters the temperature is so high, that it can be used to boil water. Water makes its way deep inside the earth and hot rock boils that water. The boiling water then produces steam which is captured by geothermal heat pumps. The steam turns the turbines which in turn activates generators.
 

(iv) Hydroelectric Energy
The energy of the moving water can then be captured and called as hydroelectric power. Hydroelectric power stations capture the kinetic energy of moving water and give mechanical energy to turbines. The moving turbines then convert mechanical energy into electrical energy through generators. Dams around the world have been built for this purpose only. Hydropower is the largest producer of alternative energy in the world.
 

(v) Ocean Energy
The waves produced by the ocean and tides that hit the sea shore has enormous potential in them. If they are harnessed with full capacity they can go a long way in reducing world’s energy problems. There are 3 ways i.e. Tidal energy, Wave energy and Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) via which ocean energy can be harnessed.
 

(vi) Hydrogen Energy
Hydrogen is the most abundant element available on earth but it is rarely alone. Even water contains two third of hydrogen. It is usually available with other elements and have to separated before we can make use of it. Hydrogen has tremendous potential and can be used to power up homes, vehicles and even space rockets. The main benefit of hydrogen energy is that it is clean source of fuel and does not leave any waste elements behind except water.
 

(vii) Anaerobic digestion / Biogas
Anaerobic digestion is a collection of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels.
In India, anaerobic digesters are used both at small-scale and large-scale levels. Small scale biogas for household use is a simple, low-cost, low-maintenance technology, which has been used for decades. It usually concerns rural areas and communities without connection to the grid. Industrial applications mainly process huge amounts of feedstock.
 

(viii) Fuel cells
A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen to run, but they can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied.

The rising urgency for alternative, non-polluting sources of energy has given prominence to newer, cleaner sources. Fuel cells offer a reliable solution for mission-critical power. Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as fuel and oxygen are supplied.


(ix) Landfill gas extraction
Landfill gas is approximately forty to sixty percent methane.
 

(x) Nuclear Power
Nuclear power is amongst the most abundant forms of alternative energy. It creates a number of direct benefits in terms of emissions and efficiency, while also boosting the economy by creating jobs in plant creation and operation.
Thirteen countries relied on nuclear power to produce at least a quarter of their electricity as of 2015 and there are currently 450 plants in operation throughout the world. 
 

(xi) Fuels for automobiles
 
(a) Alcohol (either ethanol or methanol)
 Alcohols have been used as a fuel. The first four aliphatic alcohols
methanol, ethanol, propanol, and butanol) are of interest as fuels because they can be synthesized chemically or biologically, and they have characteristics which allow them to be used in internal combustion engines. 
 

(b) Biodiesel
It is a kind of vegetable oil. Biodiesel is meant to be used in standard diesel engines. The preferred raw material for biofuel in India is Jatropa. This crop is often cultivated in degraded lands but requires irrigation to produce the seeds that carry the oil.
 

(c) Vegetable oil
They  are fats extracted from seeds, or less often, from other parts of fruits. Oils extracted from plants have been used since ancient times, Vegetable oils are also used to make biodiesel, which can be used like conventional diesel.
The Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum is now working to convert used cooking oil into biofuel which would then be used to power automobiles and planes. 


(d) Biomass to liquid
It is a multi-step process of producing synthetic hydrocarbon fuels made from biomass via a thermochemical route.  Such a fuel has been called grassoline

(e) Natural Gas
Natural gas sources have been in use for a number of decades, but it is through the progression of compression techniques that it is becoming a more viable alternative energy source. In particular, it is being used in cars to reduce carbon emissions.

(f) Electricity
Railways
e-Rickshaw
Maruti Suzuki has confirmed that its first electric car will make its market launch in India in 2020. 
 

(B) Housing
 
(i) Rat-trap bond wall, brick arches and filler slab - This housing construction is the result of a technology that has been developed by the architect Laurie Baker  and has been tested and proven during the past 40 years in India.
(ii) Filler slab in roof: These are safe, sound and provide aesthetically pleasing pattern ceilings and also need no plaster. 
 

(C) Waste Recycle / Circular Economy
(i) Composting
This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a soil conditioner (the compost).
There are three primary methods to this end: in­door, windrow composting, and vermicomposting.
In­door composting procedures involve storing damp organic matter (i.e. a ratio of green, carbon­rich waste and brown, nitrogen­rich waste) in compost bins or turners so the materials break down into humus (i.e. organic topsoil).
 
Windrow composting procedures are rely on the same as in­door composting procedures: given time, oxygen, water, and temperature, organic material breaks down into fertilizer on its own. In windrow, compost is piled in spaced, triangular­pointed rows, and aeration occurs by flipping the row into the space preceding it.
 
In vermicomposting, earthworms, typically red wigglers and white worms, are fed a mixture of kitchen and garden wastes (e.g. fruits, vegetables, peels, coffee grounds, leaves and grass clippings). Their worm manure is then used as a nutrient­rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.
In India, composting is an alternative to landfills, for both economic and environmental reasons alike. Villages that compost instead of landfill their wastes save money from buying fertilizer, even earning money by selling superfluous compost. According to one source, each family in the village of Medak can potentially make a profit of $20,000 by using the organic manure to produce vegetables for their family and selling remaining compost.
 
(ii) Greywater resuse
Graeywateris all wastewater generated in households or office buildings from streams without fecal contamination. The application of greywater reuse in urban water systems provides substantial benefits for both the water supply subsystem by reducing the demand for fresh clean water.
 
(iii) Recycling
Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. 
(D) Connectivity
They include the wireless technologies of - TV White Space; RF including Wi-Fi hotspots; C-Band/VSAT/Satellite; etc
 

(E) Agriculture
The technology applied in agriculture is one great example. In addition to initiatives such as
- vitamin A-enriched golden rice,
- rice which are resistant to flooding.
- drought-tolerant cereal
- taking particular advantage of crop waste, such as sugar cane or corn, with the aim of promoting the circular economy.
 

(F) Biotechnology / bioeconomy
Biofuel production is a solution that facilitates the use of biotechnology for environmental purposes.
 
For cleaning oil-contaminated environments the use of microorganisms is called bioremediation, and it employs bacteria or fungi to decontaminate waste water from cities.
 
New materials such as biomaterials used to “store” carbon dioxide, can help to reduce the greenhouse effect and global warming.




Saturday, 13th Oct 2018, 09:42:03 AM

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