Researchers at the University of Bolton in the UK have developed a device capable of capturing energy from not only the sun and wind but rain, as well. The innovative generator is comprised of ribbons made from a piezoelectric polymer that generate energy currents when disturbed, and are also coated in flexible photovoltaic (PV) film that helps the device capture energy from the sun as well. In its current state the device can only generate small amounts of electricity but the researchers envision future pine cone shaped structures with thousands of ribbons vibrating in the wind and rain and soaking up the sun.
Elias Siores at the Institute for Materials Research and Innovation at the University of Bolton in the UK was one of the researchers on the project and said that the team’s goal was to get over the problem of renewable energy being intermittent. A field of wind turbines is great unless the wind isn’t blowing and a rooftop of solar panels can be helpful unless it is nighttime. Their new generator could help solve these problems by allowing one device to capture energy from a multitude of sources. “What we wanted was something that can take energy from different elements,” he told NewScientist.
The ribbons of piezoelectric polymer are capable of creating energy each time they are disturbed and the more forcefully they are moved the more energy they create. The team is looking into new applications for their technology and think they could create energy-generating clothing from the PV film-coated piezoelectric polymers by making a thread-like material from the same components. If successful the team could create a line of clothing that would generate energy with your own body movement and the elements in the world around you.