Chinese researchers have developed a device that draws energy from the breeze that arises when you walk briskly.Of course we all know wind turbines. You can often find them along the coast or in the sea, where they are cranked by the sea breeze and can often supply thousands of households with power. Unfortunately, the wind – certainly inland – is often not strong enough to set the large wind turbines in motion and so many breezes remain unused. But a Chinese study published in the magazine Cell Reports Physical Science, can change that. In the magazine, the researchers reveal the development of a small device that can already generate energy thanks to the breeze that you experience when you walk briskly.NanogeneratorThe device is not a real windmill, but a nanogenerator consisting of two plastic strips in a tube. The strips clap against each other when air flows through the tube. And just as your hair becomes static when you rub a balloon over it, the plastic strips acquire an electrical charge when they separate again. And that electricity is stored.

Research shows that little wind is needed to get the nanogenerator to work. A breeze at a speed of about 1.6 meters per second is enough to generate energy. “You can collect all the breezes in your everyday life,” Ya Yang jokes. And use them to power small appliances that you use every day. “We once placed our nanogenerator on someone’s arm and the airflow created by swinging his arm was enough to generate energy.” And let LED lights shine, for example.


Although the device is already quite small – the smallest prototype is about the size of a coin – Yang and colleagues want to make it even smaller. The idea is that it will then be easier to use in the future to supply small electronic devices – such as telephones – directly with sustainably generated electricity.


… And bigger

In addition, however, Yang and colleagues are also considering making the devices much larger and even having them compete with traditional windmills. “We can place these devices where traditional wind turbines cannot reach. For example on mountains or on the roofs of buildings. ”

Yang emphasizes that these generators are not intended to make the wind turbine superfluous. “Our goal is to solve problems that wind turbines cannot solve. Unlike wind turbines that have a fixed price with their coils and magnets, we can choose cheap materials for our device. And it can also be used safely in nature reserves or cities because there are no rotating parts. ”