We would often think about the large “fans” that measure in more than 100m in height when we mention wind turbines, though Chinese scientists have recently subverted our imagination and developed a small portable wind turbine that is able to provide electricity for low cost and small detectors as well as LED, as long as there is wind while one walks when carrying it.
Despite its status of a wind turbine, it does not capture wind energy entirely, but rather depends on the “triboelectric effect” as the main element in power generation for the device, which is equipped with two thin plastic films that sway in the wind. When air passes through the aisle, the plastic films get tangled up and slap on each other, which looks slightly devilry, but that is the triboelectric effect that collects the energy for the device.
Ya Yang, senior author of the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems, Chinese Academy of Sciences, commented, “we are able to collect breeze for power generation by binding the nano power generator on our arms, and the airflow created by arm swinging will be enough for power generation.”
The study of the research team has pointed out that the nano power generator will generate power under a wind speed of 5.8km/hr by binding the device on the arm. If one wishes to elevate the volume of power generation, the device can also be bound on bicycles or scooters for an optimal power generation under a wind speed of 14.3-28.8km/hr.
The research team commented that the 3.23% conversion efficiency of wind energy makes it more suitable in providing power for small equipment, and the 175V voltage output, 43μA current, and 2.5 mW power of the optimized version is sufficient enough to provide electricity for small temperature sensors or 100 units of LED. The research team hopes to apply such invention on wearable devices in the future.
The research team had built another nano power generator in the past, for which the team hopes to implement further improvement through the new study, in order to manufacture smaller and denser equipment that contains higher efficiency, so that it can be used on small electronic devices, such as smartphones.
Ya Yang commented that the future goal for the research team is to expand the scale to 1,000W that would allow the device to compete with traditional wind turbines, before placing this advanced design at locations where conventional wind turbines cannot be installed, such as mountains or rooftops. However, there is still a substantial distance from achieving the target in the current phase, since despite the varied methods of power generation, the efficiency of traditional and old wind turbines is at approximately 50%, let alone the latest types of wind turbines.
(Cover photo source: pixabay)