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Tech Trends For 2014: Efficiently Becoming More Energy Efficient

How much did you pay for gas the last time you were at the pump? Afraid to admit it? In our family we like to brag when we find a good price. There is even an app that points you to the cheapest stations. But can you really be proud of the prices we’re paying? Recently here in Texas we dipped below $3.00/gal. for the first time in almost a year. But we’ve also paid over $4.00… I’m sure you have had similar experiences. With these prices, trudging through icy winter on a bicycle doesn’t seem such a bad idea. But that would be crazy, right?

When energy gets expensive, like it is today, topics of renewable energy, energy preservation and improving our energy efficiency rise in priority. They have been growing and evolving for some time now, and I think we are to a point where we will see the future of energy become an issue of today.

Hybrid vehicles tout gas mileage like 35 and 40 miles per gallon. That’s something to be proud of; less trips to the pump means more money in your pocket. But what if your idea of great gas mileage was more like 500 mpg, or even 1,000? Engineers in different parts of the world have successfully designed and built super-mileage vehicles that can cross the United States on 2-4 gallons of gas. Some can even do it carrying two passengers and a trunk of full of suitcases. Automobile manufacturers like Honda, Ford and Volkswagen have been watching. I see 2014 as the year that the first mass-produced super-mileage vehicle will be announced.

I also don’t see energy efficiency in the automobile industry stopping there. In late 2013, a group of engineers near Sacramento released a machine that effectively converts waste like banana peels and used syringes into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. ‘Effective’ means that the solution creates more energy than is required to run the machine that produces it. These synthetic gases can be made into fuel like diesel and ethanol. Other companies are quickly coming to the market with similar inventions and they are combining forces.

My prediction? By the end of 2014, fuel made from waste will be made commercially available and technology will exist to support mass production. Gas stations are notorious for being a little trashy. But now, that will be a good thing.

I think the automotive industry is due for some commercially available breakthroughs. But our phones could also use an energy facelift. Watchmakers and emergency preparedness groups have tinkered with the power of kinetic energy for some time. A watch or a flashlight can be powered entirely by the movement of the user. Who will be the first to take this concept to our smartphones, which constantly rattle and shake in our hip pockets? I think it’s coming soon, maybe even this year. Samsung, Apple, here’s looking at you.

Tagg Petersen

Okay, so the World Headquarters of John Deere in Moline may not be exactly like Disney World, but Tagg does admit a trip to this Illinois…

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