The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Innovative Wind Turbine Smaller Than a Penny Could Power Your Smartphone
Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a renewable energy technology smaller than our smallest form of currency, yet capable of charging smartphones.
The micro-windmills designed by electrical engineering professor Dr. J.-C. Chiao and research associate Smitha Rao are so tiny that a single grain of rice could hold about 10 of them, according to a news release from the university. The duo envision embedding hundreds of micro-windmills in a sleeve for a cell phone. Users could generate electricity for the phone's battery by waving it in the air or by holding it up to an open window on a windy day.
“Imagine that they can be cheaply made on the surfaces of portable electronics,” Chiao said, “so you can place them on a sleeve for your smart phone.
"When the phone is out of battery power, all you need to do is to put on the sleeve, wave the phone in the air for a few minutes and you can use the phone again.”
Taiwanese fabrication foundry WinMEMS Technologies is exploring ways to commercialize the turbines. The university has applied for a provisional patent.
At its widest point, one of the micro-turbines measures 1.8 millimeters. According to Chiao and Rao, the turbines tested well in September amid strong, artificial winds because of their nickel alloy and aerodynamic design.
“The micro-windmills work well because the metal alloy is flexible and Smitha’s design follows minimalism for functionality.” Chiao said.
Chiao said the technology's deployment could be extended to home energy. Thousands of turbines could be mounted on home or building walls to produce the energy needed for lighting, security, wireless communication and more. The researchers have also developed gears, inductors, pop-up switches and grippers that are all as small as a fraction of the diameter of a human hair.
"I think we’ve only scratched the surface on how these micro-windmills might be used,” Rao said.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Elizabeth Pratt
- Hormel, Kellogg's, and Kroger are among the large companies now planning to offer "fake meat" products at grocery stores.
- Experts say the trend toward plant-based meats coincides with consumers' desires to eat less meat.
- However, experts urge consumers to closely check package labels as a product isn't necessarily healthy just because it's described as plant-based.
In grocery stores and fast-food outlets around the U.S., a revolution is taking place.
Many of us think of the Amazon as an untouched wilderness, but people have been thriving in these diverse environments for millennia. Due to this long history, the knowledge that Indigenous and forest communities pass between generations about plants, animals and forest ecology is incredibly rich and detailed and easily dwarfs that of any expert.
By Wesley Rahn
Plastic byproducts were found in 97 percent of blood and urine samples from 2,500 children tested between 2014 and 2017, according to a study by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute.
Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS
Hot yoga has become a popular exercise in recent years. It offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga, such as stress reduction, improved strength, and flexibility.
The Trump administration has initialized the final steps to open up nearly 1.6 million acres of the protected Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to allow oil and gas drilling.