Mechanical trees brings new meaning to the words ‘power plant’

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Renewable energy seems to be something that is very close to everyone’s hearts and minds these days, taking into consideration how we should be leaving an earth for our children to live in, rather than having them look for a different planet to survive down the road. There are many different ways to harness what nature has on offer, ranging from the sun to raging waters and even the wind, and here we are with a really interesting – the installation of mechanical trees so that they end up being agents of energy whenever they sway and sashay about in a breeze. Talk about being a ‘power’ plant!

This is certainly a refreshing change, taking into consideration how harvesting wind energy could no longer resemble those of large windmills, but rather, like a small, leafless trees. The Ohio State University is working on a project that tests whether high-tech objects which resemble artificial trees are able to generate renewable power when they are shaken by the wind, or perhaps by the sway of a tall building, traffic on a bridge or even seismic activity.

Of course, one might end up visualizing images of fields that are full of mechanical trees which sway in the breeze, and assuming the technology works best when applied on a small scale, it would be perfect in situations where other renewable energy sources such as solar are not a viable option. As for these “trees”, they would be extremely simple structures, similar to that of a trunk with just a handful of branches sans any leaves.

This particular project would take advantage of the plentiful vibrational energy that surrounds us every day, where several sources are wind-induced structural motions, seismic activity and human activity. Sensors will keep track of the soundness of a structure through the detection of vibrations which pass through it, and with these vibrations being transformed into electricity, the very same structural monitoring systems could actually be powered by the vibrations that they are monitoring.

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