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Good Vibrations Promise Cheap Wind Power

We all know the drawbacks of wind power. Aside from space and a sufficient amount of well, wind, power-generating windmills also require a significant investment for construction.

Shawn Frayne devised the Windbelt, which doesn't require lots of space, wind, or money. The system generates power from the vibrations created when even a tiny amount of wind hits a strip of material connected to a magnet.



Windbelt isn't exactly a new invention—it was named by Popular Mechanics for its 2007 Breakthrough Awards—but Frayne was able to create a start-up based on the technology (Humdinger Wind Energy LLC). Three variants of different sizes are scheduled for a demo within this year.

Tthe microWindbelt is a 5" x 1" self-contained unit that generates enough power for sensors or small electronics, while the one-meter long Windcell produces 3 to 5 watts of power. The large-scale Windcell panel, built by bunching Windcells together, will produce 100 watts and cost $1 for every square meter taken up. That's more than enough power to drive a netbook.



A Windbelt still requires sufficient wind to for maximum generation (6m/s or 13mph), but the system can still create power at lower wind speeds. The inventor claims that it is perfect for urban environments, where ever-changing wind conditions minimize (or even eliminate) the effectiveness of rotor-based generators.

  • bustapr
    I want to know the instuctions on how to make the little one at home. Itll be an interesting timekiller and its a good idea.Still wished the big one would generate more power but, its cheap and it looks cool. I wonder how much construction will cost.
    Reply
  • Onus
    Now that's cool; basically running a buzzer in reverse. I wonder how well it scales; what would a megawatt installation look (and sound) like?
    Reply
  • Tomtompiper
    jtt283Now that's cool; basically running a buzzer in reverse. I wonder how well it scales; what would a megawatt installation look (and sound) like?
    The more efficient they make it the cooler and quieter it will become, heat and noise are caused by wasted energy.
    Reply
  • HibyPrime
    I'd imagine a MW installation would look like a huge array of wide ladders, with the steps being the magnetic vibration thing...

    You can bet it would end up fairly loud, but I imagine the sound would just be a hum type sound, so it wouldn't be too intrusive.
    Reply
  • If they could be made sturdy enough, imagine these lining the walls of highway dividers in high traffic areas, plenty of "wind" generated by the traffic
    Reply
  • dark_lord69
    "...will produce 100 watts..."
    Yeah, but you'd need 10 of those to power a PC with some real muscle. I'd be more excited if it produced more electricity...
    On the other hand they are small enough that they could but an outlet on these things and let the general public buy it and just plug something into it on a windy day.
    Reply
  • kipsus
    "(6m/s or 13mph)" this looks like a typo
    Reply
  • Rancifer7
    Although the power produced per unit ins't amazing, they are small can you can put them practically anywhere. and they appear MUCH less intrusive than turbines!
    Reply
  • Ciuy
    interesting.....but not gona happen thx to the big energy corporations....wich i hope all die :D
    Reply
  • jellico
    dark_lord69"...will produce 100 watts..."Yeah, but you'd need 10 of those to power a PC with some real muscle. I'd be more excited if it produced more electricity...On the other hand they are small enough that they could but an outlet on these things and let the general public buy it and just plug something into it on a windy day.
    I know exactly what you mean. I like the innovation, but I'm still waiting and hoping for the next big breakthrough in energy generation technology. Something along the lines of zero-point energy, or fusion, or even just self-sustaining hydrogen production from seawater.

    That's my biggest problem with the whole "alternative energy" movement. People go on and on about needing to break our dependence upon foreign oil, and fossil fuels in general... great, I agree and am all for that. Problem is that we don't have that technology yet. Wind, solar, biofuels, etc. are a bust. They simply don't produce enough power. The United States currently consumes 20 million barrels of oil per day! That's 840 million gallons per day! That doesn't even include coal usage. The only way we're going to move past that is with a revolutionary new technology. A merely evolutionary technology just won't cut it.
    Reply