Personal electronic devices, such as smartphones, mp3 and mp4 players, among others, have become more powerful, and more power-hungry, over time. Could miniature wind power devices save grid energy?
Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have designed a tiny wind power device that could be used to power these power-hungry devices. How small, exactly? Of course, there are small wind power devices already on the market, some that can charge your car or even your entire home, this has to be the smallest in existence…
From the video, there’s no real sense of scale, so it might be hard to imagine this tiny wind power device is just 1.8 mm across, so thin, in fact, that ten of them can be mounted on a grain of rice. Nickel-Alloy is used to maintain strength, and the entire device, or thousands of them at once, can be manufactured using standard electroplating methods.
Just how much energy these tiny wind power devices generate isn’t stated, but the inventors estimate that hundreds of these could be embedded in a smartphone sleeve waved about for a few minutes to charge the battery. “Imagine that they can be cheaply made on the surfaces of portable electronics, so you can place them on a sleeve for your smart phone. When the phone is out of battery power, all you need to do is to put on the sleeve, wave the phone in the air for a few minutes and you can use the phone again.”
I’m not thinking this will give you a full charge in a few minutes, but I can imagine that it might give you a couple percent for an emergency call. Maybe the case could be designed to direct airflow from speaking into the windmill array, although that might not work for texters, like myself. Thinking bigger, this tiny windmill could be mounted, by the thousands or millions, on flat panels on walls or rooftops, generating wind power where a medium- or full-size windmill might be undesirable.
Image © WinMEMS Technologies