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Smart Choice Wind Panels

Wind energy has come a long way since the introduction of windmills and towering turbines.

While these remain a dominant source of wind energy, there have been innovations in wind energy design that are more environmentally and the economically practical.

One of the most interesting is the Vibro-wind Panel, which is currently being developed by a team of professors and undergraduates at Cornell University.

Vibro-wind is a form of micro-generation that harnesses motion and utilizes the resulting vibrations of its foam oscillators. Just as leaves flutter when the wind passes through them, the oscillators dance and twirl as breezes swoops around the panel.

This bio-mimicry harnesses the kinetic energy of the wind and converts it into electric energy, making use of even low wind levels. Converting the mechanical energy to electric energy isn’t an easy task, and may be the most challenging part of the study. The conversion is achieved with the use of a piezoelectric transducer, which emits electrons when stressed.

Vibro-wind panels are much smaller than turbines, which allows for easy placement and a reduction in land-space use, needing only a fraction of the space that a wind turbine or windmill would require. Because of this, panels can perch on rooftops the same way a solar panel would.

Its portability and aesthetic-friendly design make it a smart choice for cities, where you wouldn’t want the eyesore, nor the noise pollution, of a wind turbine.

The study, that was funded by a 100,000-dollar grant from the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund, is still in progress.

The team is headed by Frank Moon, the Joseph Ford Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with students and professors whose experience lies in mechanical and aerospace engineering, as well as a few with architectural experience.

The team had also included the creative intellect of Kevin Pratt, an assistant professor of architectural design, who has since passed.

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