Third World Wind Power – Forget Turbines

The smartest solutions are always the simplest ones. The ones where you go ‘Doh! Why didn’t I think of that?” It’s because you weren’t looking in the right place at the right time.

Case in point is 28-year old engineer Shawn Frayne, who recently won Popular Mechanic’s 2007 Breakthrough Award. He was working in Haiti and needed a way to create wind power to small devices such as torches and radios. Small turbines weren’t an option, as they are very expensive.

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You might have seen the video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (pictured here) violently twisting and then collapsing from a mild 40mph wind that wouldn’t even blow over your grandmother. The reason for this was what is called Aeroelastic Flutter.

So Shawn figured out if a little bit of wind could cause a massive bridge to flutter like a harmonica, he certainly could power a few radios from it.

So he built a ‘Wind Belt’ generator, it costs $2 to make using off-the-shelf materials and is 10 times more efficient than a micro wind turbine. Click here to see the video.

Now, let’s see if I can get a larger version to power my geyser…

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