Animal energy has been used by man since ancient times. When we needed strength to move our mills and plow the fields, we used domesticated animals.
They provided a mechanical animal energy (ie energy of movement) that was renewable and clean. Of course, it was also limited and needed to recharge by resting and caring for the animals.
With the industrial revolution and combustion engines, animal power lost importance. However, in many countries of the world it is still key to being able to carry out important tasks .
In addition to that, some animals have a series of peculiarities that allow energy to be extracted from them in frankly curious ways. For this reason, we explain everything you need to know about animal energy and the role that some can play when generating renewable energy.
Animal energy in ancient times
We were never the strongest, but our intelligence allowed us to tame animals that were. They allowed us to plow our fields or move our mills and other devices, with which we could create flour or extract water from the ground, for example.
Also, of course, animal power was our primary means of cargo and transportation until motorized vehicles arrived .
When that happened, we found more efficient ways to generate power. It is true that one could use mechanical animal energy to drive a turbine attached to a generator, and thus make electricity. However, it is a more inefficient way compared to others such as generating steam that moves that turbine, for example.
Therefore, animal energy began to fall into disuse.
Animal energy in modern times
Traditional animal energy is still used, however, in rural areas and developing countries. Cheaper than an investment in machinery, it continues to be a key piece in the lives of many people, applied to agricultural and transport tasks.
The use of animal energy for electricity generation, for example, is marginal and quite inefficient… Until now.
New applications of animal energy
With improvements in technology and research, there is a renewed interest in animal energy as an alternative source . With the aim of taking advantage of all possible renewable and clean sources, the possibilities that certain specific animals have when it comes to generating energy in an efficient way are being studied.
How? These are the main ways.
1. Obtaining electricity from the animal energy of jellyfish
In its day, we already told you in detail about how jellyfish are being tried to be a source of natural and renewable energy.
The key is in the so-called Green Fluorescent Protein that the jellyfish generates naturally. This is the substance that allows the jellyfish to have that particular glow. The interest is that when we combine the green proteins with bacterial proteins that are activated by light, a solar cell can be built .
This would make it possible to take advantage of the sun’s energy to generate electricity in a new way and for biosolar energy to occupy a place alongside photovoltaic and thermosolar energy, which are better known.
Although it is still in the research phase, it is a very interesting possibility. We have to take into account that the future of renewable energies depends on the joint contribution in many ways and sources to obtain it , with which everything helps.
Obtaining energy through animal waste
Not only are there animals with very interesting properties, such as bioluminescence, animal waste has also often been used for many things, above all, composting crop fields.
However, such waste can also be used to generate electricity, especially cow droppings . Some dairy farms invest in machines that collect cow droppings and mix them with plant waste.
The mixture serves as an excellent breeding ground for microorganisms that produce methane gas . This is collected and can be converted into energy of various kinds. Directly, it can be combusted to give heat. Indirectly, it allows it to be converted into electricity.
With it, farms use that animal energy from their waste to save on their bill and even sell what is left over. It is estimated that a farm with about 1,000 cows has a production potential of 250 to 300 kW of electricity per day.
Or what is the same, the energy to power 300 homes.
As we can see, animal energy may have a secondary role, compared to other ways of generating electricity or movement. However, it continues to play an important role in everyday life in many parts of the world, and not only that.
Thanks to technology, and the characteristics of some species, animal energy can be an important part of a world driven by renewable energies.