Wind harvester harnesses energy from light breezes

Breeze. (Reference image Mike Bitzenhofer, Flickr.)

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a low-cost device that can harness energy from wind as gentle as a light breeze – and store it as electricity.
According to the researchers, when exposed to winds with a speed as low as two metres per second, the device can produce a voltage of three volts and generate electrical power of up to 290 microwatts, which is sufficient to power a commercial sensor and also send the data to a mobile phone or a computer.
The device, called a wind harvester, also diverts any electricity that is not in use to a battery, where it can be stored to power devices in the absence of wind.
Its inventors believe the new technology has the potential to replace batteries in powering light-emitting diode (LED) lights and structural health monitoring sensors.
Measuring only 15 centimetres by 20 centimetres, the device can easily be mounted on the sides of buildings and would be ideal for urban environments.

“As a renewable and clean energy source, wind power generation has attracted extensive research attention. Our research aims to tackle the lack of a small-scale energy harvester for more targeted functions, such as to power smaller sensors and electronic devices,” head researcher Yang Yaowen said in a media statement.

In Yaowen’s view, the wind harvester can also serve as a potential alternative to smaller lithium-ion batteries, as it is self-sufficient, would only require occasional maintenance, and does not use heavy metals.

Since the innovation has received interest from the industry, the NTU research team is now working towards commercializing it.