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Aeroelastic Flutter A Green Power Phenomena


Dangerous Dynamic Fluid-Structure Interactions Give Rise To Ingenious Green Innovations

UW21414In 2004, Shawn Frayne, a member of a team from MIT visiting Petite Anse, Haiti, found the fishing village near the coast was not connected to an electrical grid, and the only lighting available was diesel-powered or kerosene-based. Frayne recognized that white LEDs powered by a small, very inexpensive wind generator might be better able to power LED lamps and radios in the homes and schools in the area. However, he hit a brick wall – turbine technology is too inefficient at these scales to be a viable option.

Vibrations caused by the wind (aeroelastic flutter phenomena), led to the collapse in 1940 of Washington State’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge (aka Galloping Gertie), and studying that disaster led Frayne to invent the world’s first non-turbine wind generator, the Windbelt generator. Which in turn, led to the founding of Humdinger Energy, LLC based in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Windbelt technology is based on the principle of aeroelastic flutter, which is a phenomenon that operates at a variety of windspeeds.

windbeltWindbelt technology has undergone several transformations since the first small tabletop proof-of-concept, membrane-based, non-turbine generator was developed:

  1. microBelt – (1mW – 1W) – a “micro” Windbelt, for powering applications such as wireless sensor nodes.
  2. Windcell – (1W – 100W) – a “medium” version of the technology designed to power individual applications such as lighting and WiFi repeaters.
  3. Windcell Panel – (0.1kW – MW-scale) – a one-meter square array of 1-meter long Windbelts developed for grid-tied electricity.

Each Windcell and Windcell Panel has an initial estimated production cost of $1 per peak watt, which translates to around US$0.03-US$0.05 per kWh (uninstalled) at 6m/s average wind speeds. This is around four times less than uninstalled photovoltaic systems and less than MW-size turbine-based wind harvesters, giving wind harvesting an unprecedented ability to go everywhere that wind and solar power can’t presently go.

To picture how this works, think of how you held a blade of grass between your fingers as a kid and made it whistle, — or how the strapping on a truck can be seen moving in the wind. That is roughly how the Windbelt can pull energy from the wind – then, it’s a second step to turn that energy of the moving membrane into electricity, which is done by actuating new types of linear generators.

Better yet, let Shawn Frayne show the concept in action:

Taking wind power into places and applications previously inconceivable, for all walks of life, the Windbelt can be one of the key tools of energy harvesting in the 21st century.

…. as the green future unfolds.

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21 Responses to “Aeroelastic Flutter A Green Power Phenomena”

  1. Home alarm Says:

    I am impressed with the content of the article. I have been trying this method and I have seen some real improvements. This method is very useful.

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi Home alarm … Great to hear! How much power are you getting out of it?

  3. Lissof Says:

    Interesting proof of concept, I would like to see more information as to developing units that will function in the environment i.e. dust, moisture, wind extremes, ice, variable wind direction… .

    However, if there is a harmonica sized Windbelt or Windcell, I know some people who would purchase a unit for their spouse!!! Imagine that,, a mouth piece that not only muffled your loved one, but powered the TV. at the same time. 🙂

    Realistically, I can see where this would have real world applications for which it was developed. Combined with a battery, it could power higher demands than just LED lights, for limited periods of time or charge cell phones, in a highly portable form.

  4. Linda Says:

    Hi Lissof …. homegrown or primo??? LOL! you are a lunatic! 😀

  5. Lissof Says:

    Not blowing smoke… Naturally “Gifted” with a creative mind…Just cannot afford the groceries to function at a higher level.. 😉

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Lissof … LOL! I know EXACTly what you mean!!! 😀

  7. RE - Recycedfrockery.com Says:

    This is an excellent idea. I could see that film stretched across places in haiti to generate power. that would increase commerce, socialization and regenerate the areas that were damaged and have yet to receive any assistance. this would also work when there was even the slightest bit of movement including the wind created by people moving near the film. hopefully someone will put this in someones’ ear when the time to rebuild the power grid begins in haiti.

    excellent post

  8. Linda Says:

    Hi RE … Thank you and hopefully this will be included in haiti as well.

    Hi Barbara … You bet your sweet bippy it is now!

  9. Barbara Says:

    Another excellent idea we should be using, NOW instead of somewhere off in the future. The green future is NOW!
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Relax With Barbara On Wednesday 63 =-.

  10. DJ Says:

    This is definitely a great concept that hopefully will be refined/improved further, and as Lissof said made to be able to withstand the wear and tear of a natural environment. I do wonder however how much electricity one wind belt can make, and if it would be efficient enough to for practical use.
    Another clean energy device I read about is called Bloom Blox, it’s an energy cell made that takes in bio fuel and hydrogen and release no emissions. It consists of several small plates, and one that can power a European home fits in your hand, pretty incredible. Like the wind belt I hope both of these clean energy devices will eventually become cheap, efficient and eventually replace our current electrical/power grid.

  11. Linda Says:

    Hi DJ … Wow! Great minds …… I’ve been researching Bloom Energy’s Bloom Box, since their press conference on the 24th – looks like they found a way around having to use platinum as a catalyst. Which would bring the cost of fuel cells down even further. Anyway more on that later … 🙂

  12. pebble Says:

    It will not only be useful in Haiti. The whole 3rd world could benefit from that technology, if, somehow, it could be mass produced and sold cheap.
    .-= pebble´s last blog ..Global warming and polar bears. =-.

  13. Linda Says:

    Hi pebble … I wholeheartily agree! The sooner the better!

  14. Brad Says:

    Hi Linda!

    Ah, yes. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge. That’s a pretty famous span around here. I remember studying about the disastrous event in Washington State History in high school. Did you know that we recently built a sister span right next to it? Now we have a bridge for each direction.

    Wow! This is a fascinating concept and pretty amazing when you consider all its possibilities. It reminds me of the pilot project currently underway up here where the power company is playing with submersed turbines in Puget Sound for generating electricity via tidal action.

    I love hearing about the ingenuity people come up with!
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..Rose-Folding =-.

  15. Linda Says:

    Hi Brad … My goodness! I might have found a small little crack! There is so much innovation going on that it is hard to keep up with!

  16. Baby Boy Bedding Says:

    This is an excellent idea.I read about is called Bloom Blox, it’s an energy cell made that takes in bio fuel and hydrogen and release no emissions.This method is very useful.
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your post.

  17. Linda Says:

    Hi Baby Boy …. Thank you and come back again about the Bloom Box.

  18. Transport Phenomena in the Cardiovascular System | Transport Phenomena Material Geek Says:

    […] Aeroelastic Flutter A Green Power Phenomena | […]

  19. ConnieFoggles Says:

    I love learning about how little things in life (the small blade of grass) can help create huge things that can change life as we know it. One thing for sure is that people’s imaginations can never be replaced with computers!
    .-= ConnieFoggles´s last blog ..Martina McBride Ticket Discount Shine All Night Tour =-.

  20. Linda Says:

    Hi Connie … Amen to that! However, computers lets us know what is out there and we are able share it!

  21. Chuck Says:

    Every politician should be issued on of the harmonica sized devices and ordered to use it every time they speak. Talk about free energy and they would finally be useful.

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