Power the planet, hug an artificial tree

July 18, 2016 | 00:00
Power the planet, hug an artificial tree
Power the planet, hug an artificial tree
Some scientific research reporting can have strange effects if interpreted by the wrong people. For instance the news from Ohio State University that “tree-like structures made with electromechanical materials are suitable for converting winds or structural vibrations into electricity” may be misconstrued as: “let’s cut down some trees so we can power our air conditioners”.

Okay so we know that buildings sway ever so slightly in the wind, bridges oscillate when we drive on them and car suspensions absorb bumps in the road. Tapping mechanical energy from a real tree is awkward. Their mechanical “replacements" a suggested by OSU would be relatively simple structures — a trunk with a few branches and no leaves — and !importantly! they may not be scaled up to sit among conventional forests or compete with windmills or solar farms. More likely they would be used at the small scale to power sensors that monitor the structural integrity of buildings, bridges, and other civil engineering structures. Hmm.

I can’t get my head around this one. Fortunately any real-life implications are very hard to find in the work reported in the Journal of Sound and Vibration : " Leveraging nonlinear saturation-based phenomena in an L-shaped vibration energy harvesting system .
 
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