These “wind harvesters” generate electricity with a light breeze

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have been working for 10 years on a new device, dubbed a “wind harvester” capable of transforming the energy of a light breeze into electricity. A process that would initially make it possible to supply sensors that are difficult to access on bridges, skyscrapers or even rails.

Ten dollars. This is the cost of this device developed by researchers at Nanyang University in Singapore. It is a new type of device based on the kinetic energy of the wind capable of operating with the smallest of breezes. For this prototype, these engineers used the average wind speed in Singapore, which is 2.5 meters per second, and, by barely increasing the wind, they managed to generate enough electrical energy to power a row of 40 LED bulbs. during a day.

The originality of this system, called “wind harvester”, is therefore its cost, very low, but also its dimensions (15 x 20 cm) and the technology used since they took advantage of aeroelasticity to use the phenomenon gallop coupled with triboelectric energy conversion. Objective: to convert the vibrations driven by the wind into electricity.

Ideal for monitoring buildings and structures

As shown in the sketch above, their device is made from epoxy, copper, aluminum and Teflon fibers. It consists of a main beam, abutment and a central plate with freedom of oscillation. The triboelectric layers and the electrodes are placed between the surface of the abutment and the central plate. Of course, the goal is not to supply electricity to a house or offices, but the researchers managed to generate up to 290 microwatts of electricity, and even to store this energy.

Professor Yang Yaowen of NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who led the project, says the technology will be very useful for powering small devices related to the Internet of Things. ” Our research aims to address the lack of a small-scale energy harvester for more targeted functions, like powering sensors and smaller electronic devices,” he writes.

On sale from 2025

In civil engineering, this type of generator can supply sensors placed on bridges or skyscrapers, and can thus send alerts on possible movements or anomalies on the structure. All without the need for technicians to change batteries. He also cites the example of sensors placed along railway lines or in tunnels. ” Sometimes these sensors are buried in concrete or in tall buildings, making them difficult to access,” he recalls.

After 10 years of work, and pending the validation of patents, this “harvester”, delivered with rechargeable batteries, should be on sale by 2025, but it will only be issued for professional use at first. time. It will be equipped with wireless technology to transmit data to smartphones.

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