Harvesting energy from the wind using plastic grass

University researchers present a possible alternative to solar panels and bulky wind turbines.
Plastic grass

We have come across many new ways of harnessing wind energy, from kites that can reach stronger and more stable wind currents at high altitudes to one-metre-tall windmills that can create energy from passing traffic. Researchers at Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology have teamed up with researchers at China’s Southwest Jiaotong University to develop an alternative energy- harvesting method, which relies on sheets of plastic strips that resemble blades of grass.

The plastic grass has been created to carpet a surface like a rooftop and presents a possible alternative to solar panels or bulky wind turbines. Each strip of plastic has been designed with a nanowire side and a conductive film side made out of indium tin oxide. When the wind moves the strips, the two sides come into contact with neighbouring strips, causing electrons to move between the plastic and generate electrical currents.

The amount of energy created would depend on the surface area covered by the plastic grass and the wind velocity, although researchers say that the strips are able to operate at wind speeds as low as 21 kilometres per hour. The wind technology is still in its development phase and researchers now have to find a way to store the energy generated.