Although it works with wind, it’s not exactly a turbine. Instead, this generator collects energy through a similar mechanism to what produces static electricity – namely, the triboelectric effect. This phenomenon occurs when a material becomes electrically charged after it’s separated from another material.
In this case, the active component is two strips of plastic in a tube. When air flows through the tube, the strips flap about and clap together, capturing and storing energy. The team says this nanogenerator works in winds as gentle as 3.6 mph (5.8 km/h), and tests showed that it can work while attached to a person’s arm while walking. That said, it works best at wind speeds between 8.9 and 17.9 mph (14.3 and 28.8 km/h), so perhaps it would be better suited to use on a bike.
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