• 4 minutes Europeans and Americans are beginning to see the results of depending on renewables.
  • 7 minutes Is China Rising or Falling? Has it Enraged the World and Lost its Way? How is their Economy Doing?
  • 13 minutes NordStream2
  • 12 hours Monday 9/13 - "High Natural Gas Prices Today Will Send U.S. Production Soaring Next Year" by Irina Slav
  • 10 hours California to ban gasoline for lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers, off road equipment, etc.
  • 13 hours "Here is The Hidden $150 Trillion Agenda Behind The "Crusade" Against Climate Change" - Zero Hedge re: Bank of America REPORT
  • 3 hours GREEN NEW DEAL = BLIZZARD OF LIES
  • 3 days "A Very Predictable Global Energy Crisis" by Irina Slav --- MUST READ
  • 1 day U.S. : Employers Can Buy Retirement Security for $2.64 an Hour
  • 1 day Nord Stream - US/German consultations
  • 3 days An Indian Opinion on What is Going on in China
  • 4 days Can Technology Keep Coal Plants Alive and Well?
  • 5 days Succession Planning in Human Resources for Vaccinated Individuals in the Oil & Gas Industry
  • 15 hours Forecasts for Natural Gas
  • 1 day Australia sues Neoen for lack of power from its Tesla battery
  • 4 days Storage of gas cylinders
  • 5 days Two Good and Plausible Ideas about Saving Water and Redirecting it to Where it is Needed.
Futurity

Futurity

Futurity covers research news from the top universities in the US, UK, Canada and Australia

More Info

Premium Content

The Newest Wind Energy Innovation: Flappy Leaves On Fake Trees

A new device mimics the branches and leaves of a cottonwood tree and generates electricity when its artificial leaves sway in the wind.

The concept won’t replace wind turbines, but the technology could spawn a niche market for small and visually unobtrusive machines that turn wind into electricity, says Michael McCloskey, an associate professor of genetics, development, and cell biology at Iowa State University who led the design of the device.

“The possible advantages here are aesthetics and its smaller scale, which may allow off-grid energy harvesting,” McCloskey says. “We set out to answer the question of whether you can get useful amounts of electrical power out of something that looks like a plant. The answer is ‘possibly,’ but the idea will require further development.”

McCloskey says cell phone towers in some urban locations, such as Las Vegas, have been camouflaged as trees, complete with leaves that serve only to improve the tower’s aesthetic appeal. Tapping energy from those leaves would increase their functionality, he says.

The biomimetic tree’s leaves, modeled after cottonwood leaves, rely on piezoelectrical processes to produce electricity. (Credit: Christopher Gannon)

The paper in PLOS ONE reports an example of biomimetics, or the use of artificial means to mimic natural processes. The concept has inspired new ways of approaching fields as varied as computer science, manufacturing, and nanotechnology.

It’s unlikely that many people would mistake the prototype in McCloskey’s laboratory for a real tree. The device features a metallic trellis, from which hang a dozen plastic flaps in the shape of cottonwood leaves.

Curtis Mosher, an associate scientist at Iowa State and coauthor of the paper, says it’s not that great of a leap from the prototype the researchers built to a much more convincing artificial tree with tens of thousands of leaves, each producing electricity derived from wind power.

“It’s definitely doable, but the trick is accomplishing it without compromising efficiency,” Mosher says. “More work is necessary, but there are paths available.” Related: Research Warns Cheap Solar Will Dampen Oil, Coal Demand

Small strips of specialized plastic inside the leaf stalks release an electrical charge when bent by moving air. Such processes are known as piezoelectric effects. Cottonwood leaves were modeled because their flattened leaf stalks compel blades to oscillate in a regular pattern that optimizes energy generation by flexible piezoelectric strips.

Eric Henderson, a professor of genetics, development, and cell biology who also works on the research team, envisions a future in which biomimetic trees help to power household appliances.

Such biomimetic technology could become a market for those who want the ability to generate limited amounts of wind energy without the need for tall and obstructive towers or turbines, Henderson says.

But McCloskey says making that vision reality means finding an alternative means of mechanical-to-electrical transduction, or a scheme for converting wind energy into usable electricity. The piezo method adopted for the ISU experiments didn’t achieve the efficiency the technology will need to compete in the market.

Piezoelectricity was an obvious place to start because the materials are widely available, Henderson says. But taking the next step will require a new approach.

Other transduction methods such as triboelectricity, or the generation of charge by friction between dissimilar materials, work at similar efficiency and can power autonomous sensors. However, McCloskey says it will require much greater efficiency—and further research—to produce a practical device.

By Fred Love via Futurity.org

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:


Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage





Leave a comment

Leave a comment




EXXON Mobil -0.35
Open57.81 Trading Vol.6.96M Previous Vol.241.7B
BUY 57.15
Sell 57.00
Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News