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.
The more efficient they make it the cooler and quieter it will become, heat and noise are caused by wasted energy.
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.
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.