A Bacteria That Produces Fuel? This Could Be the Future of Sustainable Energy

More than ever before, people are understanding the crucial importance of renewable energy for the overall benefit of our planet. A Gallup poll published in March found that 73 percent of Americans now prioritize alternative energy over oil and gas, the highest percentage since Gallup first asked the question in 2011.

But the U.S. still has a long way to go. In 2015, less than 10 percent of the nation's energy came from a renewable source. And with melting ice caps, hurricanes, heat waves, floods and many other worrisome signs that climate change is rapidly changing things for the worse, it is imperative to move the nation—and the world—to a low-carbon economy. According to the EPA, burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation accounts for the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the nation.

The good news is that according to U.S. Energy Information Administration, the nation is projected to acquire 52 percent of its energy from a renewable source by the year 2040—most of it due to expansion in solar and wind. With recent scientific advances—like artificial leaf technology, which takes cues from natural photosynthesis to create hydrogen, and carbon-based fuel and propane technology generated from bacteria—the future of sustainable energy is bright. As Stockholm’s recent World Water Week demonstrated, efforts to increase the responsible use of hydropower are more prevalent than ever.

As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said earlier this year, "We all know that renewable energy is limitless and will last forever." That may be true, yet the world must still harness it, use it sustainably and justly across all communities, and scale it so that society can be moved to a low-carbon system sooner rather than later.

Check out the infographic below created by Ohio University's Engineering Management master's program to get a glimpse at the future of sustainable energy.

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