Nothing will replace wind turbines quite yet, but Nature Communications just posted a report that shows tiny fluttering flags are able to generate electricity through the oscillations created by wind; they call it a “flutter-driven triboelectric generator”.
The proposed contraption actually does work at generating electricity, but because of how small it is, the energy created is not substantial enough to be significant. For instance, in a light breeze of 8-11mph winds, it would take thousands of these flags to provide enough energy to power an LED of approximately 10 watts. Even when mounting a generator on top of a car going 45mph, the electricity generated wasn’t enough to offset fuel.
The flags are constructed of synthetic textile coated with gold, which offer high conductivity, and are also surprisingly durable. Only after being mounted to a car, at 45 mph speeds, and 12 million flutters later, did a flag begin to show wear and tear, which still only decreased power output at a minimal level.
You can view a video of the generator in action here:
It’s interesting to see all the different ways that scientists are harnessing the power of wind. We’ve covered a few of them here on our blog:
A new microscopic wind turbine could be the key to powering cell phones in the future
Small wind turbine device uses exhaust air to generate savings
Fun Wind News: Mini wind turbine attaches to bikes to generate electricity for batteries
It will be exciting how the industry changes over time, but for now, the more traditional wind turbines are generating the most electricity, and contributing to power grids all over the world.