In the last few decades, product-related innovation has been linked to the improvement of the products we already have and use rather than creating new ones. Such innovation can obviously take environmental concerns into account.
One of the biggest environmental goals at the moment is related to energy, specifically on how to produce it cleanly and how to avail all the possible sources. South Korean designer Ryan Jongwoo Choi thought about this and came up with a project that brings all these worlds together: meet the ES Pipe Waterwheel.
ES Pipe Waterwheel I
In case you do not know how dams work, they basically separate the river in two levels, with the upstream level in a higher position, and then use the potential energy of the water to make it spin a turbine which, connected to a generator, produces energy. ES Pipe Waterwheel uses a similar system, obviously in a much smaller scale:
Of course, this faucet is not capable of powering the whole house and, in fact, it is not meant to. Instead, this concept has been designed to have two bulbs linked to it. Whenever someone opens the tap it starts producing energy, which is then stored in those bulbs. They can be removed and used normally when needed, without the need for an external power source.
When creating this product, Choi had in mind the underdeveloped countries where the access to electricity is not so well-spread, but it can obviously be useful everywhere in the world. If you think that each faucet charges two bulbs, multiplying that for all the faucets in a household should be enough to light it "for free".
While the ES Pipe Waterwheel is still a prototype and is not yet being widely produced, it is a very interesting concept which can have important and useful applications. For example, it can be adapted to store energy to charge small gadgets like mobile phones or tablets.
It may not seem like much but, step by step, we can adapt and improve our everyday objects to make them more efficient and even more useful.