Turbine-Free Wind Power

Last December, NewYorkTimes.com published a “2010 Year In Ideas” feature, showcasing ideas that could become 2011’s next big thing. One of the coolest things was a turbine-free wind power invention by Professor Francis Moon of Cornell University. Professor Moon’s invention, called Vibro-Wind, captures wind energy from vibrations instead of spinning blades.

His design makes use of piezoelectric pads that operate almost like how a guitar string’s vibration is converted into electrical signals then to sound. Except the pick is the wind. And no strings are involved. And there is no speaker or amplifier. And no music happens. Other than that …

Since energy is generated from vibration, this technology is great for situations not ideal for wind turbines, such as surface-level and turbulent environments. It’s nearly silent when in use, and lack of spinning blades makes bird, bee and bat conservationists happy.

The invention had so much promise, that I was surprised to hear nothing new about it since that video almost a year ago. Like any good researcher, Professor Moon is hard at work perfecting his design. It never ends.

Vibrating pad arrays aren’t intended to replace wind turbines, but the technology does offer yet another option for renewable energy, especially for hybrid applications.

Makes me wonder what next month’s “next big thing” will be! Maybe a better analogy than my guitar analogy!