Windbelt Micro-wind, 10 Times Cheaper Wind Energy!!

Frayne

[Run time: 2:05 min]  I hope you enjoy this short video of Shawn Frayne, a young inventor that has created this device to generate, on the micro-scale, energy for LED lights and radios in developing countries.  This is the first approach that uses aeroelastic flutter to create super cheap electricity.  We’re talking about changing the way wind energy is harvested and captured.  Frayne won a 2007 Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics, and he deserves it.  This incredible technology is 10-30 times more efficient than the best micro-turbines.  So, Frayne hopes to fund third-world distribution of the Windbelt through sales in first-world applications.  So inspiring … 

UPDATE:  EcoGeek reports that Shawn Frayne has launched the website for Humdinger Wind Energy.  Soon, according to the website, developer kits are going to be available for schools, researchers, and independents.

Windbelt4701107

Here’s a different video of Shawn Frayne talking about the Windbelt technology.


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  • http://xiirus.net Carlo

    I think I have all the parts to make one right now. That’s just ingenious.

  • http://www.altenergystocks.com Tom Konrad

    Very cool.

  • jeff

    He’s gonna change the earth. A man that points out the oveous. Candy from god. Brilliant!!!

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps if less people wasted away watching the tele we’d have more awesome ideas like this.

    Hats off.

  • ERM?

    Er, im pretty sure that this wouldnt work? the reason why the tacoma narrows bridge collapsed was because the wind flowed over/under it at a very specific speed, causing it to vibrate at its resonant frequency which is why you get such a high amplitude of oscillation.

    Similarly, with this product, the band is only going to oscillate like that when you have a very specific air velocity flowing over it. If you have any other velocity it wont set up mechanical resonance and so the band wont oscillate and produce energy.

    This means that you cant just take one of these bands and stick it somewhere windy because the likelihood is the air speed will not be the right one for resonance to occur.

    So all in all a pretty useless piece of equipment…

  • jimihendrix

    you can tune a string to amazing new wavelengths.

  • also

    also, this is aeroelastic flutter, not resonance

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroelasticity

  • Rhia

    Wow, that’s awesome, and a really interesting idea. It sounds like he’s from Vancouver? :D

  • http://kampfisk.com Lars Simonsen

    To the skeptic: Engineers have to work hard to make bridges that DON’T shake themselves to pieces in the wind. So if they used their brain power to make something that DOES vibrate in various wind velocities, why would they not succeed?

  • Reality Check

    It won’t work because it won’t be ‘ten times cheaper’ than conventional HAWTs…

    http://www.scoraigwind.com/CAT04/

    Look at how much that cost – next to nothing, and yet it will produce REAL amounts of useful electricity.

    But of course, it would be beyond the ‘geniuses’ that make up the population of that wonderful country, ‘Haiti’… And remember – Haiti is a third world shithole NOT because of the ‘wonderful’ people who live there… Oh no… it’s because of the COUNTRY itself! Yes, it’s the LAND MASS that MAKES the people who live there into selfish, violent, sociopathic losers…

    I mean, it couldn’t POSSIBLY be the other way around, could it?

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    Hey everyone, thanks for the digg and stumble love. I guess I’m not aggressive enough on the social front … I was underdugg by a bigger blog that gave me a link back, but that is now on the front page of digg. Gotta know the right people to get your story up there first, I guess.

    **This has happened at least three times from the same blog. Here’s how it works: They like the idea from a post on my blog. They write about it on their bigger blog. Some digg team pushes it up faster than me. They get to front page. Each of these three articles has received over 40,000 hits. Each. Needless to say, it’s starting to get old.**

    Regardless, the idea in the article is incredible. Guys like this deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, they’re on the front lines figuring out actual ways to solve the world’s problems sans powerpoint. I hope Shawn Frayne’s 15 minutes last a lot longer than 15 minutes.

  • http://300below.com deepcryo

    Nice. The aeroelastic flutter can easily be adjusted to compensate for various windspeeds by tensioning. A simple feedback loop from sensed windspeed, could tension on the known curve, providing variable and optimal oscillation. This would require negligible power which could easily be stored in a capacitor. This is a classic application for a low cost microchip/electric motor pair.

  • Jay Fretz

    The new issue of GOOD magazine has a great article about MIT’s D-lab that focuses on cheap solutions to real problems in undeveloped areas: like using a baby’s bottle to test water quality and how to manufacture cleaner burning cooking fuel from local agricultural waste. The world needs more of this kind of ingenuity. Bravo Shayne!

  • http://www.cookbookpeople.com Ted

    Would it be possible to build these windbelts into standard power and phone lines?

    Imagine billions, possible trillions of these windbelts all hooked up directly to our electrical grid, harnessing wind power all over the country.

    Each windbelt on its own would have a minuscule impact, much like a single pixel on a monitor. But cumulatively, the electrical output could be enormous.

  • Joe

    If this were true, wind power being about $1.50 per watt, costing the average home about $2,000 to power their home (in a minimum 6mph wind). If the initial cost was reduced to 1/10, and it was a system that run on very little wind (unlike a wind generator), that would mean every home could go off the grid for an initial investment of less than $200. Call me skeptical, it’s a good idea, but I’m sure there are limitations.

  • turkey

    super cool

  • Shado

    It might be a bad idea to use power and phone lines. To encourage those lines to move like that, would greatly increase downtime and maintenance needs. I dont want my power to go out more often.

  • http://www.lusthof.org Lieven

    Great lateral thinking, but couldn’t this invention be a very noisy one, vibrating all the time?

  • http://www.vibration13.com Vibration13

    I’m guessing it would be less noisy than an electric fan. Possibly less noisy than a computer tower fan, it probably just hums. I like it, I’m sure it’ll catch on!

  • Baz

    Imagine these on a scale similar to conventional windfarms arranged in circles to catch the wind whatever angle & cheaper to maintain. They could be incorporated into legs of bridges or sides of buildings or in huge banks like solar panels.

  • Flyer27

    Simply Brilliant!

  • Allan

    Its a very interesting device, but wouldn’t it be more efficient to just power the LED from the mains, rather than using a fan to make power for the LED?

  • Richard Jones

    To the skeptic , I think it DOES work~ and I also think that there are going to be more and more ideas of this nature in the very near future.
    As for the naysayers…..your time is past.

  • Mr. Candid

    To the skeptics: What is your contribution to society? Other than putting down other peoples ideas? I feel sorry for people like you

  • Anonymous2

    Anonymous correctly criticizes this device as being dependent on resonance (the repetition period of the fan probably matches the resonance period of the belt).

    As Preston notes, in the presence of truly random wind, by dynamically adjusting the mechanical weighting of the belt it should be possible to get a decent response even if the system is off-resonance. I worry, however, that the range of the adjustment and its rate of change might give problems.

    On the other hand, if there were a funnel that pre-treats the wind blown into it, with the funnel having its exit (which would lead to the device itself) tending to open and close at a frequency near that of the belt, then the mechanical adjustment of the belt would have to be much less than without the funnel pre-treatment.

    So with a few additions, this device might become viable.

  • ben

    How efficient is this? It won’t work in the video he had a fan at full power to power 2 LEDS or a clock. That is very in efficient if you ask me. by the looks of things the wind speed will need to be very high in order for the belt to produce any power at all

  • Sanchez

    what if you put thousands of these things for example in the pipes of the air conditioning network. there is a remarkable air flow to make these little things to resonate. and you can have electricity for the bulbs for example free.

  • J

    As for the post a few back…. Yes it is inefficient. Yes the fan was drawing much more power than the windbelt created. Overunity wasn’t the goal. Even a small wind turbine will cost $35 to make. The windbelt costs a couple bucks. Who cares if the efficiency isn’t record breaking? It’s a 2 dollar device that can generate a small amount of power. Keep in mind the goal of the project. He accomplishes the goal of cheap windpower on a very small scale. It’s a simple device that does what it was designed to do with few parts, little complexity, and little cost. I have several hundred dollars tied up in small scale windpower projects. This is a work of art in a simplistic fashion. It’s not intended to run a big screen tv or hot tub. It’s intended to provide some option for electric power to those who spend a year to save $10.

  • J

    As for the post a few back…. Yes it is inefficient. Yes the fan was drawing much more power than the windbelt created. Overunity wasn’t the goal. Even a small wind turbine will cost $35 to make. The windbelt costs a couple bucks. Who cares if the efficiency isn’t record breaking? It’s a 2 dollar device that can generate a small amount of power. Keep in mind the goal of the project. He accomplishes the goal of cheap windpower on a very small scale. It’s a simple device that does what it was designed to do with few parts, little complexity, and little cost. I have several hundred dollars tied up in small scale windpower projects. This is a work of art in a simplistic fashion. It’s not intended to run a big screen tv or hot tub. It’s intended to provide some option for electric power to those who spend a year to save $10.

  • mj

    How about a simple flap attached to the elastic. The flap deflects with the wind and pulls the elastic tighter. It could be calibrated so that resonant frequency is always achieved.

  • http://thebrokenhandle.com Eric

    Very cool video. It is amazing with such a simple thing as a belt moving can generate electricity. Thanks!

  • Nate

    Even if this “catches on” and the cost of electricity is cut 1/10 (example: $200/month to quote an earlier comment) that would have a HUG impact on government income.

    I don’t know a whole lot about economics yet, but I’d say that the government wouldn’t want to take away from itself a big source of income.

    But then, someone might ask, wouldn’t the money saved from maintenance, construction cost, etc. make up for it?
    I dunno’.

  • Bill

    You’d want to deploy these in groups at different tensions to activate at different wind speeds.

    What I wonder about is how they’d protect the belt from damage in a wind storm.

  • Chuck

    My first thought regarding a use for this was in recharging batteries in electric cars.
    Could you not possibly fill a grill area up with these as a source of recharge energy to extend trip lengths along with the regenerative brakes?
    I am on the positive side of this…I think only good can come from thinking like this.

  • http://www.greengoldrush.org Dannah

    Wow, this is quite impressive. I can’t wait to hear more and possibly try a developer kit.

  • MR me

    Why not connect this belt to a large piezoelectric device and let the pull generate the power and do away with the magnets and coils.

  • Lin Floyd

    2 points: 1. This is a proof of concept, not a finished product, and I would be betting that Frayne will be able to work out most of these technical problems in scale-up and 2. It is naive to think that we can get totally green power with no downside, no increased cost, no louder noises, no inconvenience. If you want green power, take the hit, if not, live with the consequences!

  • http://nmwoodworks.com/life BillinDetroit

    Two points for getting even this far in the thinking. I’m hoping that he is able to ‘super-size’ it to at least home use. No need to take it to ‘grid-size’, just far enough to make ‘off grid’ a little more feasible. My Missus & I are looking into geo-thermal for our heating & cooling … would be nice to get the wind to power the pumps, etc.

  • http://pennywise-poundfoolish.typepad.com zach @ Pennywise

    I had a similar thought to this a while ago, but this is by far more awesome. Reading the comments inspires me. I didn’t realize about the resonance, but I do think that some kind of small flap or “sail” would provide a good enough tensioner to maximize the power production.

    * electric vehicle grills: AWESOME idea! But as this is for small power generation, I wonder if it could be used to power AC units on traditional vehicles more efficiently. After all, isn’t it AC units and massive electrical needs that diminish fuel economy?

    * Lets not forget that the main property occurs in FLUID, not just air. Something like this could potentially massively increase the amount of electricity produces from a hydroelectric power plant, or indeed any location where there is a guaranteed source of fluid flow (rivers, oil pipelines, water mains, sewage lines. Everything!

    * This proof-of-concept uses a single, discrete magnet that oscillates betweeen two coils of wire. If I remember right it’s possible to “spray paint”, or dip the film into some kind of solution for. . . what’s the term? Electrophoresis? Electrolysis? The same way that silver-plated stuff is made. Then you could have coils of wire running along the length of the tape, with continuous energy production per inch of tape.

    * Couldn’t these be deployed as part and parcel of traditional windmills? These could potentially be “streamers”, vibrating along the axis of the windmill, producing electricity from the very turning of the windmill (i.e.– another example of putting it on a place with guaranteed flow of air– in generally spiral shape).

  • Henrik

    I just found this very entertaining instruction video on how to build the windbelt:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlKRipoL1rI

  • Mr. Z

    I love this device. But I think it is us first worlders and not the third world who will take advantage of it.

    After living in a third world country for four years I can tell you that this would definitely not fly. The poor people, for whom this was intended, who are too poor to afford electricity(which is only around $10 per month in most third world locales)one, do not have the money to afford to build one of these(even though most of them ironically have cell phones(at least in Latin America.) and two, most of them cannot even read or write, much less build and maintain one of these, and few have the initiative to try.

    It is however, a great idea for use in the first world where electricity is actually expensive enough for us to actively seek alternatives, and where literacy and education is sufficient to understand basic electricity and where the do-it-yourself spirit is still alive.

    I do not argue that a few industrious brains in third world will make use of it, but most people in third world countries are just too passive and will wait for someone else to do it for them.

    For anyone who says I am being a bigot, spend a few years in villages in Africa or South America and you will understand.

    Mr.Z

  • Field Technician

    This looks like a great start and as we can see from the film, it works well in the lab.

    For me there will be two issues (Which I am sure will resolved….I Hope!)

    1 – In many developing countries, its very dusty. A buildup of dust may impede the movement of the moving elements at point where the magnets are located.

    2 – Vibrations will no doubt cause fatique at the point where the vibrating elements are anchored. Testing should be conducted over longer periods to establish how long the units will run before they fail.

    The simplicity of this design does mean that its cleaned easily, and if fatique is a factor to consider, the design looks like it could be modifide so that the vibrating element could be swapped easily.

    So to conclude, a little more work needed, but this idea does have legs!

  • I want to get off the grid!

    It won’t work to run a house, for instance, because of scale. If his makes .04 watts (40 mW) and my house uses 24000 watts (24kw) then I will need to build and maintain 600,000 of these.

    They are small, and cheap, but even at a dollar and 1/10 cf apiece, I’m going to spend $600,000 and need 60,000 cf to install an array that will run my house. Also, even if they are rated for 600,000 hours of use, I will be fixing one per hour forever.

    However, a 100 fold increase in efficiency would move it to practicality (but just barely). An interesting idea.

  • http://www.nerys.com Chris Taylor

    Well first this is not intended to run a house. its made to provide MINIMAL nearly maintenance free cheap to build and maintain power for things like a light bulb (LED) or a small radio. Maybe even charging a super efficient simple computer.

    That Windmill project is not almost free. SCAVENGING only works for MINIMAL scavengers. The moment EVERYONE tries to do it IT FAILS because there are not enough PARTS to scavenge and even when there is there is now PROFIT to be made from the DEMAND which will drive up the price.

    I am wondering would this be more powerful larger say 3 or 4 times larger? what we really need is 1 to 1.5 watts of usable power.

    I am also curious. Putting this in front of a FAN is like having a 20-25mph wind going constantly. Most of us DO NOT have that kind of wind and certainly not constantly.

    how large can it scale? does the power go up? what about magnets at both ends?

    as for wind speed this is EASY to solve. you put a weather vane on it to ANGLE it into the wind to acquire the optimal wind speed over the belt if that is even needed at all.

    I am curious. I HATE winding coils. are those parts ready made from any source? ie I want to make one just to play with and see what happens.

  • http://www.nerys.com Chris Taylor

    “2 points: 1. This is a proof of concept, not a finished product, and I would be betting that Frayne will be able to work out most of these technical problems in scale-up and 2. It is naive to think that we can get totally green power with no downside, no increased cost, no louder noises, no inconvenience. If you want green power, take the hit, if not, live with the consequences!”

    actually you are incorrect. I don’t like to think of this stuff as GREEN technology. I like to think of it as CHEAP technology. Anything GREEN is usually CHEAPER and BETTER than the non green alternatives when it is not abused or artificially hindered.

    I buy LED and CFL bulbs not because they are green but because they SAVE ME MONEY

    at work I replaced 1 CFL at $5 (at the time) from a 75watt bulb. I did the math for the boss and showed him that in 21 days the bulb is FREE just in power savings (we are ipen 18 hours a day) once I showed him that and he “grasped” the math he said replace every bulb in the bulding with CFL’s. our bill is $80-$90 CHEAPER a month now. Eventually we are going to swithc to LED’s at which point we will save close to $200 a month JUST in electricity.

    I don’t want an electric car because its GREEN and its CLEANER. I want one because it will last nearly forever be virtually maintenance free cost LESS than a gasoline car (the inflated prices we see today are ARTIFICIAL and have no basis in reality) and save me $3500 a year in gasoline just to name a few.

    The reason we do not see more green tech is that GREEN TECH SAVES THE END USER MONEY. anything that SAVES the end user money COSTS the seller money.

    PERIOD. SOME green tech takes off because initially it makes SOME manufacturers more money. but when its TRULY profound a technology the “entrenched” corporations that profit off the EXISTING tech fight and resist it.

    this is why GM sold the E95 NIMH patent to Texaco/Chevron when they killed the electric car program with prejiduce. They wanted to make it VERY HARD for anyone else to make those cars.

    If not for that patent we could have $13,000 all aluminum and plastic 100+ mile range direct drive electric cars FULL RETAIL PRICE that would last AT LEAST 20-25 years before you would even need to replace the BATTERY!

    Think about that.

    USING LESS means CHEAPER means longer last means less maintenance means DESIRABLE using less has a SIDE EFFECT it also means cleaner and better for the environment.

  • http://www.nerys.com Chris Taylor

    LED’s are NOT GREENER than Incandescent.

    USING LESS POWER is greener. LED’s happen to use less power.

    USING LESS MATERIAL is greener

    LED’s happen to use less material and need to be replaced maintained less often.

    See how that works?

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    Wow…that’s really cool!

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  • SARDO Oliver

    Batteries and generators are cheaper than electricity company bills. Let’s go. Salt agains freezers. No cold drinks, no air conditioned. Small televisions are enought for small rooms. That’s the future of the civilized world without money!

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