Scientist have found a way to harvest solar and wind energy by using flags that incorporates elastic material in addition to photovoltaic cells.
Said elastic material allows the flag to generate energy by using the motion of the wind, while the cells are already commonly used in solar cells. This article will talk about the details behind the project as well as its future implications.
The analysis, conducted by investigators at The University of Manchester, is the most advanced of its kind so far and also the first to simultaneously harvest wind and solar energies using inverted flags.
This new solar and energy-harvesting flags are able to power remote sensors and other small electronics which are usually used for environmental sensing including pollution monitoring, noise level sensing and heat level checking.
The aim of the study would be to permit cheap and renewable energy harvesting alternatives which may be deployed and made to generate energy with little or no demand for maintenance. The strategy is known as”deploy-and-forget” and this is actually the expected for model that so called smart cities will adopt when using remote sensors.
A lead-author of the study and a representative of the Manchester’s School of Mechanical, Aerospace & Civil Engineering has stated that under the action of the wind, the flags that have been built bend from side to side in a meticulous manner, also referred to as Limit-Cycle Oscillations. This makes them perfectly suited to uniform electricity production in the deformation of compacted materials. At the same time, the solar panels bring about twice the amount of benefit; as they act as a destabilising mass that triggers the impact of hammering motions with decreased speed, and are able to generate power using ambient light.
A co-author of this study, also added that wind and solar energies normally have intermittencies that typically compensate each other. The sun does not usually shine during stormy conditions, whereas calm days with little wind are ordinarily connected with glistening sun. This makes solar and wind energies particularly well suited for simultaneous harvesting, with a view to compensate their intermittency.
The group developed and used unique research techniques like fast video-imaging and object tracking with innovative data-analysis to prove their flags functioned. The developed harvesters were analyzed in wind speeds varying from 0 m/s (calm) to about 26 m/s (storm/whole gale) and 1.8 kLux constant light exposure, simulating a wide range of environmental problems. Under these operation requirements, total power outputs of around 3-4 milli-Watts were generated.
Another co-author of the study has stated that said piezo/solar inverted flags were capable of producing sufficient electricity for a range of low power detectors and electronics that operate in the micro-Watt to milli-Watt power range within a number of potential practical applications in avionics, sea and land distant locations, and smart cities. They (the team behind the project) aspire to create the concept further as a way to support more power-demanding applications like an eco-energy creating charging-station for mobile devices.
The last co-author of the work, highlights current and future research directions by saying that they are currently making use of a book computational framework for simulation and modelling developed at The University of Manchester, building on a long tradition of Computational Fluid Dynamics from the group. Using computers to mimic fluid-structure interactions is referred to as virtual engineering and plays an integral part in device development by cutting the amount of models that will need to be manufactured and tested towards the making of this clean energy marvel.