PERREAULT Magazine January 2014 - Page 23

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GAME CHANGING

TECHNOLOGIES

Related advances in nanotechnology make it likely that windows and building materials will also become solar collectors. And when the sun isn’t shining, homes and offices will be able to generate back-up power because of breakthroughs such as Redox’s desk-sized fuel cell that may power a single home with little more than water, oxygen and a modest amount of natural gas. The implication of these game changers ranges from dramatically reduced carbon dioxide emissions (and, perhaps, lowering the risk of global climate change) to disrupting the long-standing business models of the coal, nuclear, oil and gas industries.

3Graphene.

Thanks to the discovery of graphene in 2004, the revolution in clean, affordable and sustainable energy may be further facilitated because this new wonder material could allow for the development of advanced battery technology capable of safely, effectively and affordably storing the excess energy produced from the solar cells, fuel cells and wind and tidal turbines. Additionally, due to its super-conductive properties, graphene may allow electric vehicles to be recharged in less than a minute, and, because it is so thin and malleable, graphene could also replace silicon in next-generation computers. The material therefore holds the potential of ushering in an era of high-performance, long-range electric automobiles as well as flexible electronics.

1Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s). Coursera, edX and Udacity are just a few of the online platforms now offering free, high-quality educational courses over the Internet. MOOC’s will not only profoundly transform the field of higher education by flipping its’ centuries old content delivery methods and credentialing models on their heads, it will also bring quality education to anyone with access to a smartphone and high-speed Internet connection—which, by decades end, will be virtually all of the planet’s seven billion inhabitants. This revolution may spur entrepreneurialism and economic development and, in turn, these traits might create educational and economic empowerment—especially among women—that could manifest itself in meaningful political reform across the globe as these newly empowered individuals demand a greater say over their future.

2Low-Cost, Affordable and Distributed Clean Energy.

The potential of solar and fuel cell technology has been widely predicted for years but both technologies finally appear poised to deliver on their promise of revolutionizing the world of energy. New materials such as perovskites could radically drop the price of the basic building material for solar cells, while advances in printable flexible solar cells could further lower the manufacturing cost. This combination makes it plausible that millions of rooftops will soon be able to affordably convert massive amounts of solar power into energy.

BY JACK ULDRICH

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