Scientists create a device that can convert a gentle breeze into electricity

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Harnessing the power of the wind… gently. This is the bet of the device designed by scientists from a university in Singapore. Economical, it is capable of converting the lightest breeze into electricity.

According to the scientists’ calculations, the device in question is capable of generating power even when the wind is very weak. For example, exposed to a breeze flowing at two meters per second, it could produce a voltage of three volts and generate electrical power of up to 290 microwatts. Nothing daunting, of course, but enough to power a standard commercial sensor and allow it to send its data to a smartphone or computer. The results were published in the journal Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing.

This tool, called a “wind collector” by the researchers, is also capable of storing energy that is not immediately used in a battery. This can take over when there is not enough wind. “ As a renewable and clean energy source, wind power generation has attracted the attention of many researchers. Our research aims to address the lack of a small-scale energy harvester for more specific functions, such as powering sensors and smaller electronic devices. explains researcher Yang Yaowen.

The structural engineer from UTN’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), who led the project, spoke in a university statement. Scientists say his invention could replace batteries in powering light-emitting diodes (LEDs), but also in structural health monitoring sensors.

These are attached to urban structures, such as bridges or skyscrapers. Its function is to monitor your state of “structural health”. They alert engineers in the event of instability or physical damage to buildings. With a measurement of about eight inches, the wind catchers would be easy to integrate into an urban environment similar to that of the suburbs of Singapore.

How does it work ?

Designed to be produced at low cost and with good durability, the body of the “mower” is made of epoxy fiber, a very resistant polymer. The main tether, the one that interacts with the wind, was made from inexpensive materials: copper, aluminum foil, and polytetrafluoroethylene, a polymer also known as “Teflon.”

The operation of the device is relatively simple. When exposed to wind, the structure of the device vibrates. Then its plate moves closer and further away from the stop – charges are formed on the film. When these charges pass from the aluminum foil to the copper film, an electrical current is formed.

The scientists tested their device in the laboratory. This proved capable of powering 40 LEDs constantly while the wind force was four meters per second. The innovation also reportedly caught the attention of industry, the university says. Therefore, the research team is currently working on the commercialization of the wind catcher.

Source: Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing

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