Nature has always been involved in mankind’s innovation and adaptability to its environment. As researchers go further with technological advances trying to make the world a better place, their focus is key for its success.
Scientists at Ohio State University has stumbled across a possible way to make tree-shaped objects generate electricity. Many large structures vibrate generating energy, however, its useless if there isn’t a way of harnessing that energy.
Inspired by the force of wind, prototypes for an electricity generating mechanical tree is being developed by a group of researchers at Ohio State. The researchers goal is to apply this concept not only with mechanical trees and flat surfaces, but also with high buildings and bridges to produce clean and sustainable energy.
Tree-like structures can maintain vibrations at a consistent frequency if developed with the right materials and design, according to Ohio State University researchers. If constructed properly, these mechanical trees could turn irregular vibrations into stable and consistent sway. This equipment is fitting for small-scale projects, where use of solar power is impossible.
There’s been prototype trees tests, generating a low voltage current yet, showing the concept is solid and only needs work. The research involves a tree designed from two small steel beams connected by a strip of PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride), which is an electromechanical material, thus, converting structural oscillations into energy.
However useful these alternative ways of energy are, they’re not a sustainable source of energy if it’s badly placed. A well-located forest of such devices would successfully generate a high voltage level. Another advantageous location for these mechanical trees to be placed could be on top of buildings for instance, turning high altitude wind into power. The benefit of placing them alongside bridges is the power generated by the trembling of footsteps and cars.
“Buildings sway ever so slightly in the wind, bridges oscillate when we drive on them and car suspensions absorb bumps in the road”, says project leader Ryan Harne, director of the Laboratory of Sound and Vibration Research at Ohio State, “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.”
The proposed project by researchers at Ohio State University is worth recognition as well as public attention this upcoming year. On an issue of the Journal of Sound and Vibration the results of the experiment showed how researchers have found the vibrations passing through trees can generate electricity.