Despite 40% of the American population not believing in climate change, it is still an ever-present issue around which we have to build our lives. More and more parties are looking into alternative energy source, and a team from the Ohio State University might have just come up with another one. Asking themselves the question ‘How can we harvest kinetic energy?’ they discovered that the answer is mechanical trees blowing in the wind.
There is energy all around us
Vibrations are present everywhere. Generated by wind, sound, motion, and pretty much anything that can make an object shake, huge amounts of kinetic energy are wasted every day because we don’t harvest it.
But what if we did?
This what the team from Ohio State asked itself before applying electromechanical materials like polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDV to the concept.
Since trees are moved all the time by both natural and artificial vibrations, why not apply the same principle to generate electrical energy?
Man-made trees to harvest energy
This is how the team came up with the idea for designing the mechanical trees.
Man-made structures resembling tees can be made out of electromechanical materials and they convert vibrations into electricity.
Seismic activity, street level vibrations, and even the wind can be converted via the mechanical trees.
They will also come with sensors monitoring their structural integrity, which will be powered by the mechanical trees themselves.
The team is planning on placing the structures in areas where solar panels would be difficult to accommodate.
An issue would be the transference of the power, but the researchers are considering either lugging the devices directly into power lines, or having them charge batteries.
Other uses of the technology
Since the technology is still available after creating a few of the mechanical trees, it still has other applications.
The team is considering implementing it in other day to day structures that suffer from vibrations, such as buildings.
Buildings get vibrations from all types of sources, pretty much constantly.
Winds, cars from the street, construction crews, its own boiler system, pretty much any force generating vibrations can be used.
Otherwise, we keep receiving tons of kinetic energy which just goes to waste.
The above scenario could even lead to a self-sufficient building, powering itself with the help of the vibrations it generates itself.
Of course, these plans won’t be ready too soon, but the devices were tested and proven to work, so it’s up to bureaucracy and the vision of higher powers when the technology will start being implemented.
Image source: Pixabay