Good Vibrations From Wind Power


The Vibro-Wind Research Group at Cornell University in the USA is developing what it says will be an efficient, economical method of converting vibrations from wind energy to electricity. 
Unlike traditional wind turbines, the vibro-wind panels would require much less space, be a fraction of the cost and would generate electricity from wind power from even the gentlest of breezes The team is also looking into design issues to address integration of panels into buildings.
A prototype constructed by the team uses an oscillator array consisting of foam blocks. The conversion from mechanical to electrical energy is performed using a piezoelectric transducer, which is a device made of a ceramic or polymer that emits electrons when stressed. An alternative to the piezoelectric transducer, an e electromagnetic coil, is also being investigated. 
Vibration based wind energy harvesting devices are also being developed elsewhere. For example the Windbelt utilises an aerodynamic phenomenon known as aeroelastic flutter to generation vibrations that are then converted into electricity.
Vibration energy has wider applications, such as creating and storing electrical energy just by walking. Structures such as buildings and bridges could be installed with sensors powered by vibrational energy.
The Cornell study is funded by a USD$100,000 grant from the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund.