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  • Shower or Bath? The Debate That Just Won’t Go Away

    The shower versus bath debate has raged on relentlessly over the past few decades - with no clear winner in sight. It is a divisive issue, splitting friends and families alike. In an attempt to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions plaguing both sides, we have endeavoured to present only the facts - with the environment, health and happiness all in mind. Whilst we may get one step closer to resolving the debate, let’s face it, it probably won’t be resolved in our lifetime, never mind by the end of this article.

    Which will help save the planet?

    Water - save the planet

    Showers are the clear winner here - and by some margin too. A typical bath uses up 80 litres of water while, comparatively, a shower of average duration with a standard mixer showerhead, uses just 60 litres. Any shower that takes ten minutes or less is pretty much guaranteed to use less water than an equivalent bath then. And considering the average shower in the UK lasts just 7-and-a-half minutes and 87% of people do not exceed ten minutes in the shower, showers are running away with the eco-crown.

    Which will leave you cleanest?

    shutterstock_555143020 (800x535)

    For most of us, the idea of an hour long bath conjures up images of soaking in a swamp of our own making for exactly 60 minutes too long. Is this a fair stereotype though? Will jumping in the shower actually make us any cleaner than lounging in the bath? Research suggests so, just about anyway. Showers are more hygienic, as all of the day’s accumulation of sweat and dirt are swept away down the drain, rather than lingering in the bathwater. The majority of particles in the tub however, settle away from the skin, where they dissolve into the bathwater itself. Having a bath isn’t quite as unhygienic as you probably assumed then, but if you’ve just completed Tough Mudder for example, it is definitely best to go for a shower instead.

    Which is best for your skin?

    Best for skin

     

    Being clean, and your skin being healthy aren’t one and the same. When it comes to shampooing and rinsing your hair, showers are your best bet, as the chemicals are washed away as soon as you have rinsed. In the bath, the shampoo remains in the water and can strip away natural oils from the skin. Whilst baths can create perils that simply don’t exist in the shower, they can also be used to treat your skin in a way that a shower simply can’t compete with. Add epsom salts to your bath to ease aches and add an amalgamation of oatmeal, whole milk and honey to heal dry or irritated skin. Dermatologists also suspect that baths have anti-ageing properties.

    What unites both showers and baths is the temperature of the water. Because extended contact with hot water can dehydrate skin, leaving it undesirably dry, dermatologists recommend using lukewarm water in the shower and the soak-and-smear technique for bathing. For the unfamiliar, pop out the bath every ten minutes to apply moisturiser to prevent your skin from drying out in the water.

    Which is the most enjoyable?

    Stuart Turner shower pumps

    We’ve talked about health, but what about happiness? Baths are always going to be associated with relaxation and they have been proven to be an effective stress reliever. Don't get me wrong, belting out your favourite song in the shower can be a lot of fun, but I don’t think it quite tops the therapeutic properties of the bath.

    Crowning a winner

    crown

    When it comes to deciding between a shower and a bath, factors like space and lifestyle are just as likely to be determining factors. A hectic work life and a shared flat is likely to be better suited to quick showers, whilst a retiree’s more spacious detached house is likely to lend itself more to a long, soothing bath. It is all a matter of circumstance.  Alongside these issues, environmental, health and dermatological considerations make finding a definitive answer even more difficult.

    For me personally, you just can’t beat the convenience of a shower - especially if it is going to leave you cleaner than a bath. And if you have Stuart Turner shower pumps, the decision is an easy one. With an eco-option to conserve water, and an instant and powerful stream of water you can rely on, it really is a no-brainer to opt for a shower over a bath.

  • How to lose weight without changing your diet or exercise regime

    In the desperate dash to attain the perfect summer body, to luxuriate with a certain confidence on the beaches and swimming pools of the world, more and more people are exploring alternative ways of losing weight. You may be familiar with the 5:2 diet, the Atkins diet, as well as the Dukan diet, but have you heard of people purposely exposing themselves to cold conditions in order to lose weight? The latest weight loss trend reportedly requires no change in exercise or diet, leading some of us to posit that it sounds too good to be true - let’s find out.

    Initial discovery

    Phelps

    Non-shivering thermogenesis is a burgeoning field that has less than ten years of research and investigation under its belt. The brainchild of a former NASA materials scientist, Ray Cronise boldly surmised that Michael Phelps was able to maintain a steady weight despite his 12,000 calorie daily intake because of the amount of time he spent immersed in cool water. It turned out he was right. After a bout of self-experimentation, which included cold showers, winter walks, and sleeping without sheets, Cronise discovered that he was able to lose 26 pounds in a matter of six weeks. And thus, the field of non-shivering thermogenesis was born.

    The theory behind it

    PET scan

    So does the theory support Cronise’s hypothesis? A spate of recent research would suggest so. Understanding why cold causes weight loss first requires an understanding of brown adipose tissue (or brown fat). Also in its infancy research-wise, the presence of brown fat in humans was only unearthed less than a decade ago, when a PET scan conducted by Jan Nedergaard and Barbara Cannon to locate the presence of tumours in a patient, instead found an unrecognisable cluster of dark spots, that were later identified as brown adipose tissue. When the body is cold, it can warm itself by burning up stores of brown fat to generate heat. For this reason, cold can cause weight loss without any need to exercise or alter food intake.

    Putting theory into practice

    Winter walk

    Wouter van Marken Lichenbelt, a professor at Maastricht University who headed research on non-shivering thermogenesis, concluded that “mild cold exposure increases body energy expenditure without shivering and without compromising our precious comfort,” yet it is achieving this precise state that makes it so difficult. How cold is too cold?

    Lifestyle changes

    Ray Cronise, the father of non-shivering thermogenesis himself, advocates a number of simple lifestyle changes. Cronise avoids turning the heating on, sleeps without even a sheet, never mind a duvet, and always opts to forgo a jacket where others would be altogether more indecisive. Whilst all of these measures will undoubtedly test your resolve and endurance, all are free and uncomplicated to implement, and should see you lose a few pounds in no time.

    Ice vest

    Others prescribe more extreme measures. Wayne Hayes has developed an ice vest that can be worn throughout the work day, although he only suggests wearing it twice a day, for up to an hour at a time.

    Cold or tepid showers and baths

    salamander pump

    If you want more immediate results but you aren’t prepared to walk around with an ice vest underneath your clothes, a more practical alternative is to swap out a hot shower or bath for a cold or even tepid one. To salvage some remaining enjoyment out of the shower, you should at least make sure the pressure of your shower is protected, and you can do this by acquiring a salamander pump.

    While the exact relationship between cold temperatures and metabolic action of brown adipose tissue is far from set in stone (especially as stores of brown fat vary from person to person) it is clear that tolerating lower temperatures does cause weight loss. And the means by which you choose to do this is completely up to you - good luck!

  • How to keep cool during the summer months

    In Britain, we are unaccustomed to it being dry, never mind hot. When temperatures do climb above the 20°C mark, it tends to elicit a state of panic - with people scrambling for sun screen, shades and ice cream. And that is exactly what we are in for this summer if recent weather reports are to be believed - surges of heart are set to be part and parcel of 2017.While we’d like to think we all relish the sunshine, there are some downsides. The most obvious of which is miserable and fitful sleep. To help you keep cool in the sun and sleep soundlessly, here are some of the most effective solutions. Some will be obvious, and others may surprise you!

    Eat less and more often

    summer salad

    Heat tends to stifle the appetite and you should probably follow your body’s lead if you want to stay cool this summer. When we eat food, our body expends energy digesting it, producing metabolic heat in the process. The larger the meal we eat, the more metabolic heat our body creates. For this reason, it is best to sacrifice bigger meals for smaller, more frequent ones - your body temperature will thank you!

    Keep away from alcohol and caffeine

    summer water

    A cold beer and a refreshing glass of white wine are staples of summer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are ideal for the hot weather. As you may already be all too aware, alcohol dehydrates the body, which can lead to headaches, dizziness, tiredness and even heat exhaustion, all of which are exacerbated by high temperatures. Caffeine-containing drinks are just as bad for dehydrating the body. While it is unlikely you’ll be putting the kettle on for a cup of coffee with the sun beaming overhead, you may fancy a quick, caffeine-filled coke. You are far better off drinking water instead, which will keep you hydrated and cool.

    Hot or cold shower?

    packaged pump systems

    Logically speaking, it seems obvious that taking a cold shower would be perfect for relief from the hot weather. Think again. Taking a cold shower actually causes our core temperature to increase. Because our skin temperature is dramatically reduced under the jets of cold water, the body decreases blood flow and therefore reduces its ability to lose heat. The cool shower will give you an initial feeling of coolness, but within minutes you will have inadvertently made yourself warmer. That is why it is better to stick to a warm, or if you don't think you can tolerate it, a tepid temperature shower. Regardless, you want to be certain that your shower is performing at peak capacity and packaged pump systems are the best way to achieve it.

    Light clothing - in all senses of the word

    summer clothing

    Lighter colours reflect heat radiation from the sun whilst darker hues absorb it, making it vital to to stick to lighter coloured clothing to avoid sticking to your clothes. In terms of material, opt for natural materials over synthetic ones, cotton and linen won’t cling to your skin and trap heat like their synthetic counterparts, allowing you to stay cool.

  • The technology fire-fighters use to tackle a blaze

    For better or worse, the tragedy of the fire at Grenfell Tower has put a spotlight on the response of emergency services. As you’d expect, no other service attracted more scrutiny than the fire and rescue service. All of Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan were quick to praise their heroic efforts, but what exactly allowed fire-fighters to save the lives of so many? The technological developments of the last few years certainly played their part; the arsenal of today's firefighter goes way beyond a mere end suction pump...

    Drones 

    end suction pump Drone in action during a forest fire

    Asking what a drone actually is can provoke a variety of answers. Browsing Wikipedia for a definition of a drone will offer anything from an underwater vehicle to spacecraft. What unites these disparate structures under the branch of drone is the fact that they are all unmanned. And it is exactly this property that gives them such intriguing potential for use in fire and rescue missions.

    A drone, or more specifically an unmanned aerial vehicle, can be used to transmit real time video of the progression of a fire using infra-red imaging - and do it better and far quicker than anything else. Not just limited to reconnaissance, there is a growing hope that, in the future, drones will become a fire-fighting tool in their own right. Incorporating the ability to extinguish fire by sound would alleviate the crippling weight of water that has until now, scuppered the possibility of fire-fighting drones. Watch this space.

    Communications

    When tackling a raging fire, communication is imperative in ensuring resources are allocated as effectively as possible. Paradoxically, the people that are the most important in identifying and relaying the development of a fire and the location of survivors are also the most at-risk and the least well-equipped to do this. Engulfed by smoke and flames, overburdened with heavy equipment, with their field of vision obscured, it is understandably difficult for fire-fighters to converse with the incident commanders that have the say-so to commit or withdraw resources.

    Thankfully though, the evolution of technology has made this communication far more fluid and reliable. Breathing apparatus now has integrated radio communications which use a frequency that has been bolstered to minimise the possibility of any loss of signal.

    end suction pump Siebe Gorman and Co smoke helmet
    Source:http://www.london-fire.gov.uk

    Breathing apparatus 

    We have come a long way from the Lord Buckethead-esque smoke helmets of the late 1800s, and it goes without saying that the breathing apparatus that allows fire-fighters to travel through smoke and fire filled areas unscathed today has dramatically improved. The fire services use either closed circuit breathing apparatus (CCBA) or self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) depending on the gravity of the situation. Regardless, both are flexible and lightweight pieces of equipment that provide the wearer with oxygen in a toxic environment.

    With an abundance of technology at their disposal, you can see why fire and rescue services have become better and better at extinguishing fires over time, and let’s hope this level of progress continues well into the future.

  • From plastic bags to paving stones: innovative solutions to the waste crisis

    Disposing of hundreds of millions of tonnes of waste is no walk in the park - literally. The era of dumping waste in landfill sites is over. With the global population set to rise from 7 billion to 11 billion by 2100, the amount of waste we are producing is only going to rise. It is becoming more and more difficult to properly dispose of waste and the world is finally waking up to this fact - individuals all across the globe are committed to discovering new ways not just to dispose of waste, but to recover its utility completely.

    Battery-eating bacteria

    sewage pump Phone batteries at landfill

    In the modern age, a mobile phone is essentially an extension of the human body. While having almost boundless information at the tips of our fingers at all times is undoubtedly a positive, it also comes at a cost - e-waste is some of the most trying to dispose of. A slew of carcinogenic and toxic substances constitute the make-up of a phone battery and because of this, they pose a particular problem for waste disposal experts. The Belgians turned to smelting and the Germans opted for vacuums. The most successful approach appears to belong to researchers at the University of Edinburgh however. They are using bacteria that have the peculiar ability to precipitate out the precious metals in phone batteries as nanoparticles, allowing lithium, cobalt and nickel can all be extracted from battery waste.

    Vanishing circuit boards

    sewage pump Circuit boards at landfill

    Circuit boards are an indispensable part of all but the most primitive electronic devices. Because of their prevalence, they have been plaguing landfill sites with toxins like lead and mercury. In order to combat this threat, 12 research groups across the globe have made substantial efforts to produce a solution. It was discovered that silicon is water soluble, and subsequently, their research focused on reducing the standard width of these silicon circuit boards from 1 millimetre to just 100 nanometres,  allowing the circuit boards to dissolve in a matter of months.

    From plastic bags to paving stones

    Sewage pump Plastic at landfill

    Cameroon is just one example of a country that is turning one of its major flaws into an asset. Plastic bags and bottles have wrought havoc with the country’s environment - everything from blocked drains to polluted rivers have tormented Cameroonians. One savvy entrepreneur is making headway into ridding the country of this scourge by converting what had previously been plastic waste into paving stones. After the potentially toxic chlorine is removed, the plastic can be melted down and combined with sand to make durable paving stones. Not only are they superior environmentally, they are also considerably cheaper than their cement slab counterparts.

    Wastewater processing

    sewage pump Wastewater processing plant

    Wastewater is being underutilised in treatment plants across the globe. Fortunately, chemical engineers are becoming more and more efficient at extracting phosphorus from wastewater. Phosphorus is instrumental in the development of strong and healthy roots, flowers, seeds and fruit of plants. No longer is a sewage pump carrying just waste, but a multitude of potentially useful substances. Because the likes of phosphorus is diverted from the wastewater using modular activated sludge digesters, it dramatically reduces the energy required to treat the remainder.

  • 4 of the most common shower problems and how to fix them

    A shower is a staple of the daily routine and, more often than not, it provides ten minutes of refuge from an otherwise hectic day. A refreshing, cleansing, process that prepares you to face whatever the day has to throw at you. Therefore, we are understandably annoyed when our shower doesn’t work the way we want it to. To make sure you will be able to restore your shower to proper working order as quickly, and as painlessly, as possible, we have assembled this list of common quick fixes.home booster pump

    Low flow/ low water pressure

    A common culprit for a temporary dip in water pressure is the build-up of limescale on the shower head. In this case, descaling the shower head can restore the normal speed of flow of water in this case. In others, however, a more permanent solution is required. One such solution is to invest in a home booster pump. With an intelligent monitor system that can counteract any loss of water pressure caused by water usage elsewhere in the home, the home booster pump is an adaptable and efficient answer to low flow showers.

    Infrequent bursts of scalding hot water

    Someone, elsewhere in the house, flushes the toilet and the cold water that was being used to temper the hot water of your shower rushes away to fulfil this flush, leaving you with scalding hot water. Ouch. One way of avoiding this painful problem is to install high efficiency toilets. By reducing the amount of cold water that the toilet needs to flush, the shower has enough cold water to temper the hot water even when someone else is using flushing the toilet.

    Blown pressure relief device

    Pressure relief devices have got your best interests at heart, but it never seems like it when they shut down the shower completely. Fashioned to blow when internal pressure becomes too much for the shower to handle, a pressure relief device is designed to stop the whole tank from exploding. It is relatively easy to identify when your pressure relief device has blown.  Normally, apart from the fact that your shower won’t work, your shower will be leaking slightly. PRDs are inexpensive to replace, but first, you have to investigate what caused it to blow. Blockages and restrictions in the shower head and the shower hose are two hypotheses worth investigating.

    Noisy shower

    The sound of the streams of water should only be interrupted by your angelic singing voice, not an overly loud whirring shower that sounds on the verge of collapse. Fortunately, a noisy shower isn’t a terrible problem to have - five minutes of work should suffice. Each unit needs to be properly secured to the wall, and the pipes that provide the water need to be secured with brackets. Once you have checked that the blanking plugs have been inserted into spare inlet fittings inside the unit, the problem should be resolved.

    Of course, because of the complex network of pipes and pumps that serve your shower, there isn’t always just one simple fix.  But, with luck, this guide helps you understand and, more importantly, solve, some of the issues that may have been plaguing your shower.

  • How the human race is defending itself against flooding

    Although it might not feel like it, the UK is widely expected to suffer a drought in incoming months. And whilst it may seem like the worst time to start preparing for a flood, it is arguably the best. Floods are often so damaging because the defences made to combat them are often a case of too little, too late. And, unlike a waterlogged garden, you can’t just use drainage pumps. Through months, and sometimes years of preparation, areas of the world have been able to successfully defend themselves against floods. Here are some of the most interesting cases.

    Flood barrierdrainage pumps

    The Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier in the Netherlands is the largest of its kind in the world. Designed and constructed in response to the devastating 1953 North Sea Flood that proved fatal for thousands, the Oosterscheldekering (as it is also known) incorporates 4 kilometres sluice-gate-type doors that are only closed during adverse weather conditions. It has been so successful that (as part of the broader Delta Works project) it has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    Hydroelectric dam

    Whilst the Oosterscheldekering is essentially a flood barrier, the Three Gorges Dam in China also doubles as a hydroelectric dam. Because of its 22 cubic km flood storage capacity, the dam is slated to reduce major downstream flooding as an incidence from one in every ten years to one in every hundred years. Alongside its proficiency as an anti-flood measure, the Three Gorges Dam also provides enough electricity to provide for 3% of the national demand.

    Channel modification

     In order to circumvent the pooling of rivers that causes flooding, the river course can be widened, deepened and straightened, to make the speed of flow of the water faster. Channel modification has been carried out on 25% of all the main rivers in England and Wales. While it is clear that channelisation has helped to reduce the risk of flooding, it can also have negative ecological repercussions - the dredging of the Charlton River in northern Missouri in the US caused the number of species present in the modified areas to fall to 13. In the natural areas of the river, 21 different species remained.

    Managed/ ecological flooding

    Ecological flooding is a more recent approach to combatting flooding. Why would you encourage the very thing you are trying to prevent? The answer is that, whilst you are allowing flooding to occur, you are only allowing it to happen in areas that you specify, which prevents it from happening in the highly areas you do not want it to happen. Aside from - diverted floodwaters away from settlements, managed flooding also aids the animal kingdom. An investigation of the ramifications of managed flooding in south-eastern Australia, found that it promoted the diversity of species present.

    Afforestationdrainage pumps

    Afforestation is potentially the most environmentally friendly anti-flood measure. By introducing more greenery, more rainwater is intercepted and used for photosynthesis and consequently prevented from ever reaching the river. The Mississippi River is one notable example of how this approach has paid dividends. As a counter-measure to the 1993 floods, a programme of afforestation was pursued and it has ultimately helped to reduce flooding by reducing the river discharge.

    With global warming making summers drier but winters wetter, do you think we should be doing more to combat the threat of flooding?

  • From the watermill to the dam: How water has fuelled industry

    Grundfos watermill Watermill

    Despite being used for everything from washing to drinking, there is one use of water you might not be aware of - hydropower. The Ancient Greeks first invented the horizontal-wheeled watermill in 3rd century BC and humans have been harnessing the power of the movement of water ever since. Of course, today, the Grundfos watermill serves the altogether different purpose of increasing water pressure. To chart this evolution, we have put together a list of the most significant hydropower developments.

    Watermill

    Before electricity became widely economically viable, the mechanical action of a mill was necessary in the production of important material goods like flour, paper, textiles and metals. Often intentionally diverted from a river, the movement of incoming water was used to drive the blades of a wheel or turbine, which, in turn, would power the milling, rolling or hammering of the mill. The watermill is the earliest example of water being used to serve an industrial purpose and the use of this technology has become increasingly complex as time has progressed.

    Hushing and hydraulic mining

    From its emergence in the 1st century BC, the mining industry has been reliant on the power of water for their work. The technique of hushing was the first to be used with any sort of regularity. It involved directing streams of water towards gravel to erode the rock and expose the ores beneath.  In the midst of the California Gold Rush in 1853, hydraulic mining emerged as a more profitable technique. Very high pressure jets of water were used to erode hillsides at a rapid rate, and whilst it was effective, it did cause widespread damage to Californian agriculture and the local environment.

    Trompe

    Like the watermill, before the advent of electricity, it was necessary to wield the power of water to compress gas. A trompe is composed of a vertical pipe, a separation chamber and two exit pipes - one for the exit of compressed air and another that allows water to leave. As the water falls down the vertical pipe, it travels through a constriction, where an external port allows air to enter, which then causes bubbles to form in the pipe. As the bubbles travel further down the pipe they become pressurised, and the compressed air rises to the top of the separation chamber where it leaves through a takeoff pipe. Trompes were most commonly used to provide for bloomer furnaces, where the compressed air was used to smelt iron from its oxides.

    Hydroelectric dams

    Itaipu Dam

    Since their creation in 1870 in Cragside, Northumberland, hydroelectric dams have superseded watermills to the extent that watermills are now virtually extinct. The principles are the same and the only notable difference between the two is the end result - the production of electricity rather than mechanical energy. By corralling water into a structure, the potential energy of the water could be used to power a turbine, which, in turn, produced electricity. In 1870, the first hydroelectric dam provided enough energy to keep an arc lamp alight. Today, electricity from, the Itaipu Dam on the Brazil-Paraguay border, produces 104 million megawatt hour (MWh) - enough to meet worldwide power consumption for two whole days.

  • How pumps are being used to save lives

    Water for Life - shower pumpsBy definition, a pump is a device that moves fluids by mechanical action. The form which this mechanism takes is becoming more and more diverse. We are all familiar with central heating pumps and shower pumps, but pumps are increasingly being used to save lives across the globe, thanks to the latest technology. From people suffering from heart problems in the UK, to those struggling with respiratory problems in Malawi, pumps have been able to grant them all a new lease of life.

    Preventing death from waterborne diseases

    In many areas across the world, people do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Often dependent on a single body of water, residents often have no choice but to consume contaminated water plagued with disease. Inevitably, this leads to countless deaths from diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid and cholera.

    That is why it is so important that wells are built to provide safe drinking water. Fresh water can be transported up to ground level from hundreds of feet below using submersible pumps, providing residents with water they can consume without risking death.

    Saving those that are too ill to undergo a heart transplant

    A research programme headed by world renowned heart surgeon, Sir Magdi Yacoub, has made huge strides towards saving the lives of those who would otherwise die waiting for heart transplants from cardiomyopathy. Instead, a 3 by 5 inch pump is implanted into the abdomen and attached to the left ventricle. Deputising for the failing left ventricle, the HeartMate 2 allows the heart to continue to pump fresh blood around the body.

    While the heart is bolstered by the pump, the patient is given high doses of heart failure drugs that the diseased heart would not otherwise be able to cope with. Many patients, who were so ill that they were taken off the heart transplant list, were able to make a full recovery thanks to this pump without even having to undergo a transplant.

    Innovations that are saving people in the developing world

    In the developing world, conventional medical technology is invariably too expensive to procure. Fortunately, researchers at world leading universities like Rice and MIT have created viable, cost-effective alternatives for those in developing countries in desperate need of medical assistance.

    Bicycle pump nebuliser

    One such example is the spawn of MIT’s Innovations in International Health; a nebuliser constructed using a bicycle pump. For the unfamiliar, a nebuliser provides emergency relief for patients suffering from respiratory diseases. The bicycle pump replaces the air compressor of the nebuliser, and allows it to run in the absence of electricity, making it a more cost-effective and versatile replacement.

    Fish tank pump CPOP machine

    Another example of innovation at its finest is the fish tank pump that is being used to ensure the survival of premature new-borns in developing countries. Researchers at Rice University have created a functioning Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine for a tenth of the price - using only a box and a fish tank pump. Trialled in Malawi, the device had an immediate impact, the survival rate of premature babies jumped from 43% to 71%.

  • The most bizarre sources of renewable energy

    Our planet only has so many stores of the natural resources we use every day to power our cars and heat our houses. As the global population has spiralled, the search for sources of energy that are renewable, and subsequently sustainable, has become more and more desperate. Over the course of their research, scientists have discovered some truly bizarre sources of renewable energy - including things as seemingly disparate as sweat, dance floors and chocolate.

    Sweat

    Pretty much all of us take a great deal of effort ensuring we sweat as little as possible. Taking showers and baths, applying deodorant and wearing moisture wicking clothing are just three of many anti-sweat measures we take. But what if I told you that researchers from the University of California have been able to harness sweat as a renewable energy source? Using temporary tattoos containing small sensors (or biobatteries) that strip electrons from the lactate present in sweat, the researchers were able to generate an electric current.

    Before you crank up your central heating pump to get a sweat on so you can watch the latest episode of Coronation Street on the TV, this research is at an admittedly primitive stage.  At the moment, sweat can only generate around 4 watts of electric current - enough to power a light bulb for the best part of 3 minutes. Whilst there is obviously some distance to go before it becomes a viable alternative, it is thought that it could have use in biomedical and military research that involves exercise regimes.

    Dance floors

    The kinetic energy produced by the movement of the human body is a significant source of energy. One perceptive and forward-thinking business in Rotterdam installed the first energy generating dance floor in the world. Combining the obvious propensity people have for dancing on a dance floor, Energy Floors were able to power the accompanying LED lights by converting the kinetic energy of the dancers into electricity.

    Energy Floors favour an electromechanical system that transfers small vertical movements into a rotating movement that drives a generator. Do you think these dance floors have any chance of catching on in clubs across the world?

    Chocolate

    Using chocolate for anything other than eating seems like a crime. Don’t worry though; researchers from the University of Birmingham have uncovered a way to produce energy from the waste products of chocolate. Hydrogen was produced by feeding nougat and caramel waste to E. coli bacteria. By combining the hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell, electricity was generated.

    Unlike sweat, chocolate seems to have more of a future as a renewable energy source. Researchers at the University of Warwick were also able to power a Formula 3 car capable of taking corners at 125mph using chocolate as a biofuel. Maybe you should hang on to all those left over Easter eggs?

    As you have seen, there are an abundance of unorthodox sources of renewable energy that most of us would never have thought worth even looking into in the first place. Fortunately, researchers had the vision and foresight to do so, and we now have an array of renewable energy sources, one of which may become one of the most important resources on the planet in the future.

    Which source of renewable energy surprised you the most?

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