Who could imagine to be able to scavenge wind energy from the breeze as gentle as the one created by a brisk walk? A ‘tiny wind turbine’ designed by researchers in China can do so, contrary to the fact that wind available on land is not strong enough to drive commercial wind turbine blades. The method is low-cost and effective way of collecting gentle breeze as a micro-energy source.
Technically, the device is not a turbine. It is a nanogenerator composed of two plastic strips in a tube that clap together when there is airflow. Based on the phenomenon called triboelectric effect, the two plastics become electrically charged after separated from contact, and is akin to rubbing a balloon to the hair. However, the electric charge generated by the two plastics is seized and stored, rather than making the hair stand up like that of Einstein.
“The mechanism allows to collect all the breeze in everyday life,” says a senior associate behind the design. For trial, the nanogenerator placed on a person’s arm and airflow in the swinging arm enough to generate power.
With wide Scope for Improvement, pilot shows efficacy of mechanism
For experimentation purpose, a breeze as light as 1.6 m/s enough to provide energy the triboelectric nanogenerator created by the team. Meanwhile, the nanogenerator performs best when wind velocity is in the range 4 to 8 m/s – a speed that enables the two plastic strip to clap in sync. In addition, the device comprises a high wind-to-energy conversion efficiency of 3.23%, which is higher than previously reported values of wind energy harnessing. Currently, the device can power up to 100 LED temperature sensors and lights.