A research study has been published in the journal Applied Energy. The researchers at the University of Manchester conducted the study. The research study has indicated that flexible photovoltaic cells and piezoelectric strips were used to develop novel wind and solar energy-harvesting flags. The photovoltaic cell is a well-known method of harnessing electric power using solar cells. The piezoelectric strips enable the flag to generate power using movement.
It is the most advanced of its kind to date and the 1st to simultaneously harvest wind and solar energies using inverted flags. The newly developed energy harvesting flags have the capability of powering remote sensors and small-scale portable electronics. It can be used for environmental sensings like monitoring pollution, sound levels, and heat. The major objective of the study is to allow cheap and sustainable energy harvesting solutions.
The system can be deployed and left to generate energy with little or no need for maintenance. This strategy is known as “Deploy-and-Forget” and it is anticipated for model smart cities to adopt during using remote sensors. The head of the study is Jorge Silva-Leon from Manchester’s School of Mechanical, Aerospace & Civil Engineering.
Silva-Leon said, “Under the action of the wind, the flags we built bend from side to side in a repetitive fashion, also known as Limit-Cycle Oscillations. This makes them perfectly suited for uniform power generation from the deformation of piezoelectric materials. Simultaneously, solar panels bring a double benefit. They act as a destabilizing mass which triggers the onset of flapping motions at lower wind speeds, and to generate electricity from the ambient light”.
The team used and developed unique research techniques. They used fast video-imaging and object tracking with advanced data-analysis to prove their innovation. The developed harvesters were tested in wind speeds varying from 0 m/s (calm) to about 26 m/s (storm/whole gale) and 1.8 Klux constant light exposure, simulating a wide range of environmental conditions. Up to 3-4 milli-Watts total power outputs were generated under these operating conditions.