Monday, June 20, 2011

Triple Threat: New Generator Harnesses Energy from Sun, Wind and Rain

One thing that's known for sure about the future of renewable energy is that it will take all types to fulfill our energy needs. The wind isn't always blowing and the sun isn't always shining, but if wind, solar, geothermal, wave/tidal and any other type of renewable energy generation are all utilized and all feeding the grid, then we'll be more than covered. But what about devices that can harness more than one of these renewable energy sources at once?

A new renewable energy generator developed by researchers at the University of Bolton in the UK is able to harness energy from not one, but three sources: sunlight, wind and rain. I'm sure you're imagining one crazy-looking contraption, but this new technology actually uses ribbons of piezoelectric polymer that are coated with a thin, flexible solar PV film.

The ribbons generate electricity anytime they're disturbed, whether by wind or rain drops, or when the sun is shining. The more forcefully they're moved, the greater the energy payoff. The researchers imagine a pine cone shaped structure consisting of thousands of these ribbons.

The ribbons can only generate small amounts of electricity, so the researchers foresee them being used in low energy applications like powering gadgets. Another possibility is applying the same techniques to nylon for use in energy-generating clothing.

via New Scientist

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