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Wind is a great ally in the generation of renewable energy. Wind farms already produce a significant share of global electricity capacity, but the help of wind in fighting climate change might not stop there.
A project at Ohio State University has been testing, since the beginning of 2016, a new technology, which it is hoped will serve many sub-sectors.
Engineers at Ohio have created artificial trees that can generate renewable energy by exploiting wind’s shakes, shudders, tremors and jolts, by converting such vibrations into electricity. Made with electromechanical materials, these trees can transform apparently random movements into strong structural vibrations by using a phenomenon known as internal resonance. When the “trees” are able vibrate at a low frequency, they can convert the kinetic energy associated with this movement into a voltage of up to 2V, also adding random vibrations as they go.
Although the voltages obtained are small, they would be enough to power the small sensors that autonomously monitor the integrity of civil infrastructures and obtain their electricity from the same vibrations they are analyzing.
In such first applications, sensors in the form of a tree could produce electricity to send data more sustainably, while self-powering more economically and efficiently.
According to the information technology portal, (e) Science News, “the idea of using tree-like devices to capture wind or vibration energies may seem straightforward, because real trees obviously dissipate energy when they sway.”
But, using a mathematical model, the researchers determined that it is possible for structures similar to a tree to maintain vibrations at constant frequency, in spite of the random nature of wind, in a way that this energy can be captured and stored effectively by electrical power circuits.
So it looks like a new application for wind energy has been found to contribute to a more sustainable future.
Source: (e) Science News.