Most of the wind that’s available on land isn’t strong enough to push the commercial wind turbine blades; however, Chinese researchers have created a small wind turbine able to collect the wind energy from breeze as little as the one we make when we’re brisk walking.
The method presented in September 2020 and published in the Cell Reports Physical Science journal is low-cost and efficient collection of light breeze as a source of micro-energy.
What Kind of Design Does this Device Have?
This new device isn’t technically a turbine, but rather a nano-generator. It features two plastic strips in a tube and they clap together upon airflow.
Same as rubbing a balloon to our hair, these two plastic strips become electrically-charged after separated from the contact, or a phenomenon known as the triboelectric effect.
However, rather than making our hair stand up, this electricity generated by the strips is collected and stored.
According to the senior author of the study, Ya Yang from the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, this is a great way to collect everyday life breeze.
They once put the nano-generator on a person’s arm and the arm’s airflow caused from the swinging was sufficient to generate power.
A breeze as gentle as 1.6 m/s was enough to power this nano-generator. However, its performance is better when the velocity of the wind is between 4 to 8 m/s, a speed enough for the two strips to flutter in sync.
Interestingly, the device has a high wind-to-energy conversion efficiency of 3.23 percent which exceeds the previous performances reported on wind energy scavenging.
The device can currently power up 100 LEDs and temperature sensors, explain the scientists.
What Are the Scientists’ Future Goals with the Nano-Generator?
Yang notes that their goal isn’t replacing existing wind power generation tech, but rather solve the problems which traditional wind turbines can’t.
Unlike these turbines which use magnets and coils and the costs are fixed, this new tech can choose low-cost materials for the device. It’s also a safe device for nature reserves or cities since it has no rotating structures.
Yang and his team’s future plans are to combine the device to small electronic devices like phones and thus, enable a sustainable electric power.
But, they also want to make the device more potent-their hope is to scale it up to product 1000W, so it can become competitive with the traditional wind turbines.