I’m powered by good vibrations: vibrating beam uses kinetic wind energy for IoT

28 Jul 2015

Attempting to overcome some of the limits of wind turbines, a team of researchers has developed a beam that can potentially harvest kinetic wind energy and power internet of things (IoT) devices.

Aside from the size and engineering needs of building a wind turbine, to be efficient they would need a relatively strong breeze to turn the blades to generate the power, rather than being able to harvest kinetic wind energy.

According to the team from the Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems at Virginia Tech, its newly developed system can help us up-scale the production of such kinetic wind energy harvesters, which use vibrations created in their flexible, piezoelectric beam.

Based off tests undertaken in a wind tunnel, the team says its design is far more efficient than current vibration-powered wind devices because it doesn’t require a secondary structure attached to generate the vibrations.

Kinetic wind energy Iot

The kinetic wind energy harvesting beam in the testing wind tunnel. Image via Zakaria, et al/ AIP Publishing

According to Phys.org, this removal of a second vibrating structure allows for these new beams to be made on a much smaller scale, making it not only more efficient, but even allowing for the development of IoT technology to create self-powered sensors.

From their findings, at a wind speed of 10m/s and at a 5.4° angle, the beam can generate 0.3 mW of power, which could power a small sensor, but will now look to expand its capabilities and generate more energy.

“Future monitoring of different systems and platforms such as air and water systems, structures, vehicles, infrastructure, etc…, as well as secure data transmission and reception from these sensors, will require the use of hundreds or thousands of sensors, data loggers and hardware components,” researcher on the project, Mohamed Y Zakaria, said. “The ability to integrate energy harvesters within these sensors or data loggers to develop such self-powered instruments is very much needed to enable their use without the need to replace batteries on a regular basis.”

Wind sock image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic