Interesting Engineering’s top 10 innovation stories of 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, here are the top ten most-read stories of innovation that stood out as we reflect on a year filled with fascinating breakthroughs.
Interesting Engineering
rocket launching / image of Earth's core
Top 10 innovation stories of 2022

Ibrahim Can/Interesting Engineering   

In 2022, Interesting Engineering's (IE) compelling stories in innovation received tremendous engagement from our readers around the globe.

Whether it was SpaceX's concept for a reusable Starship rocket that baffled NASA or 'The Line,' a strange but intriguing plan for a new 75-mile zero-emission city in Saudi Arabia, 2022 brought about innovations the world had never before seen.

From 'sand batteries' to 'water batteries,' from drilling deeper holes in the Earth to developing magnetic technology for cleaner energy, the year saw innovators pushing limits, and the reporters at IE were right here to highlight these successes for our audience.

Our readers' attention was piqued by innovations ranging from the simple – the development of a speedier method for boiling water, to the complex – the comprehension of how solar panels produce electricity at night.

As 2022 comes to a close, here are the top ten most-read stories on innovation that stood out as we reflect on a year filled with fascinating breakthroughs.

10: 'The Line': 75-mile-long mirrored city of skyscrapers in Saudi Arabia

This city is being designed to use high-speed underground transit systems that will connect from one end of the city to the other in under 20 minutes. The linear nature of the city will eliminate the need for personal transportation as well as the problems that plague cities today.

9: Solar panel that generates electricity at night

An electrical engineer welcomed the cloudless nights for an entirely different reason: a clear night means infrared light from the surface of solar panels can freely radiate out into space.

8: Starlink user achieves 'infinite WiFi' with 300 watts of solar 

The Starlink customer who ran SpaceX's internet service completely off-grid 24/7. The service, which received significant public attention for its role in the Ukraine conflict, allows users to connect to the internet almost anywhere — and this customer pushed the concept even further.

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7: World's first operational 'sand battery'

A Finnish research team built the world's first commercial-scale 'sand battery,' which will be used to store power generated from renewable sources for months at a time in order to solve the problem of year-round supply.

6: Switzerland's 20 million kWh' water battery'

A 900 MW' water battery' that cost Switzerland €2 billion and took 14 years to build became operational in 2022. The battery is almost 2,000 feet (600 meters) underground in the Swiss Alps.

5: New internal combustion engine that produces nearly zero emissions

Astron Aerospace company unveiled the Omega 1, an engine designed to give internal combustion a new lease on life amid increasing curbs on fossil fuel consumption.

4: Garage-sized reactor could provide limitless energy with magnet-free technology

Zap Energy, based in Seattle, is building modular, garage-sized reactors using a lesser-known approach to nuclear fusion. They are less expensive and do not necessitate the large, extremely powerful magnets used in traditional fusion experiments.

3: This company aims to power the world for millions of years by digging the deepest holes ever

Paul Woskov, a research engineer at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center, is the brains behind the concept. The engineer has spent the last 14 years developing a method that could bring an abandoned coal power plant back online in a decade, completely carbon-free.

2: Scientists have found a way to boil water more quickly and efficiently

MIT scientists have devised a method to boil water more quickly and efficiently. The researchers discovered a way to simultaneously improve the two key parameters that aid in the boiling process, the heat transfer coefficient (HTC) and the critical heat flux (CHF).

1: SpaceX's advanced Starship design that left NASA officials baffled 

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk highlighted that Starship would be reusable multiple times at a fraction of the cost of previous rockets. It's a development that threatens to leave NASA and other competitors in the dust as it soars into the stratosphere.

And that brings us to the end of IE's top ten innovation stories of 2022. We sure were thrilled by the innovative minds of the year and can't wait to see what's in store for 2023! We'll keep you informed every step of the way.