WEDNESDAY 17 DECEMBER, 2008 |
Rain Power - The Other Alternative Energy?
These days, we're all pretty familiar with various forms of renewable
such as solar
but perhaps the rain may hold potential as another alternative energy source.
Polyvinylidene Fluoride, or PVDF; is a form of polymer also
used as a protective layer for solar cells - and more recently as part of a polymer
itself. Due to itsa
piezoelectric properties, i.e. the potential to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress,
it can be utilized to recover energy from the impact of raindrops.
In a study published earlier
, it was noted that a
single large raindrop might generate up to 12 milliwatts of power using PVDF;
by no means a large amount.
While rain power technology might not see us harvesting energy from the rooftops
of our houses such as we can do with a home
solar power system
, it's envisioned it could be used to power sensors and other
small electronics devices in areas that experience reliable and high levels of
rainfall. It could also be used in industrial air conditioning systems, where
water condenses and drops like rain continuously.
Other ideas for using rain to generate energy relate more to hydro-electric
concepts whereby water being discharged from downpipes on large buildings and
stormwater drains could be utilised to drive turbines that generate electricity.
More novel approaches to utilising rain power include an umbrella
covered in a
that would light up LED's inside the umbrella as rain
struck the fabric. The idea being that the harder it rains, the more dark it is
likely to be and therefore the more useful the light would be - perfect for dark
and stormy nights!
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