Just by flapping in the wind, a new energy-generating flag produces enough electricity to power small electronic devices. The flag converts mechanical energy into electricity using the effect behind static electricity. Floating high above the ground using balloons, it could harvest high-altitude winds to power weather and environmental monitoring sensors, as well as navigation systems.
Winds at high altitudes are faster and more consistent than those near the ground, but ground-based turbines are unable to reach those heights. Many groups are testing technologies such as floating turbines, kites, sails, andwinged craft to harness these high-altitude winds.
“How about a little piece of fabric for wind power?” asks Zhong Lin Wang, a materials science and engineering professor at Georgia Tech, in Atlanta. The flag’s low cost and easy scalability could make it competitive with other airborne wind power technologies, he says.The details of the Georgia Tech team’s research appear in the journal ACS Nano.
The flag operates on the triboelectric effect. When the surfaces of two different materials touch and separate, electrons transfer from one to the other, building up opposite charges on the two surfaces. This can lead to a voltage that drives electric current.
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.