- Scientists and engineers are trying to develop long-shot technologies that could drastically change the energy game.
- New power sources could be created by igniting fission reactors with laser-driven fusion explosions that consume spent nuclear fuel, a hazardous waste. Other machines could convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into fuel that displaces gasoline.
- Energy efficiency could be raised significantly by magnets that revolutionize air conditioners and by shape-memory alloys that boost mileage in cars.
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Many people are working to harness renewable energy sources more effectively and to enhance energy efficiency. All good. Most of the efforts will probably result in welcomed but incremental improvements, however. Radical innovations are needed to drastically change the energy game.
For years scientists and engineers have touted some fantastic schemes: satellites that beam solar power to receivers on land; wind machines that hover in the atmosphere, generating electricity. Down on earth, however, researchers have recently received substantial government or private funding for a remarkable variety of long-shot technologies in a few key areas. The projects we profile here are leading examples of the payoffs that are possible—if, of course, the inventors manage to overcome daunting hurdles to bringing practical, mass-produced and affordable technologies to fruition.
This article was originally published with the title 7 Radical Energy Solutions.