Step aside windmills, there’s a new way to harvest kinetic energy in the works. A research team at the Ohio State University has created electromechanical devices that look like tiny leafless trees and can generate electricity when they are moved by seismic activity, the slight swaying movements of a tall building, or the vibrations from traffic on a bridge.
Before we start envisioning great fields of wriggling tree-like power generators, it should be stated that this idea is for situations where small amounts of power are required.
In a study published last month, the researchers described their experiments with the new vibrational energy-harvesting platform. “Buildings sway ever so slightly in the wind, bridges oscillate when we drive on them and car suspensions absorb bumps in the road,” said project leader Ryan Harne. “In fact, there’s a massive amount of kinetic energy associated with those motions that is otherwise lost. We want to recover and recycle some of that energy.”
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