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Miniature windmills could power outlying wireless networks

Evan Blass
mini windmill

Wireless technology has allowed scientists and researchers to pepper internet-enabled sensors far beyond the range of the wired grid, but the issue of powering these devices still remains. University of Texas electrical engineer Dr. Shashank Priya thinks he has the solution to this problem, in the form of miniature windmills (not pictured) that can provide adequate power from breezes as faint as 10 MPH. Priya's 4-inch diameter 'mills differ from their larger counterparts in that they employ piezoelectric crystals which generate a current when flexed by a rotating cam. Were he to have used the conventional generators found in regular windmills, his minimills would only achieve one percent efficiency, as opposed to the 18 percent they can reach using the piezoelectric materials. Up next for Priya is perfecting the even-smaller windmills that he has patented, which should be able to capture even lighter breezes, and may also be suitable for mounting on a top hat.

[Via The Raw Feed]

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