Researching the Idea of Collecting Wind Energy from Anywhere

While large-scale wind farms may be bringing us closer to harvesting the wind, a new group of small-scale devices in the near future may help us to scavenge it. A group of researchers at City College of New York is developing a new way to generate power for planes and automobiles based on materials known as piezoelectrics, which convert the kinetic energy of motion into electricity. They will present their concept later this week at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics in Minneapolis.

The concept is that small, 1/2 x 1″ piezoelectric devices could be mounted to the roof of a car, the tail of a truck, or the fuselage of a plane–anywhere they can be placed “in the wake of a cylinder” creating airflow, according to a release. The devices would then vibrate in resonance within the airflow, creating an output of voltage suitable for running the batteries associated with a plane or vehicle’s control panel, or to power small electronic devices such a mobile phones.

image via Ecofriend

image via Ecofriend

The team of researchers led by Yiannis Andreopoulos of CCNY are currently working to optimize the use of piezoelectric devices for this purpose by modeling physical forces when piezoelectrics subjected to different airflows. Andreopoulos said, in a statement, “These devices open the possibility to continuously scavenge otherwise wasted energy from the environment.”

American Physical Society [via press release]

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.