TH Almost: Electric Trees — An Alternative Energy Source For The Future?

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The inventor Gordon Wadle is currently trying to tap an electric current from trees. Yes it sounds crazy, but we're very enthusiastic about (very) alternative energies and as we know there is a thin line between genius and madness! It will be interesting to see which of these this idea turns out to be. According to Engadget Wadle has so far only been able to produce a voltage of between .8 and 1.2-volts, which as they point out isn't of much use to anyone. But Wadle is obviously a persuasive guy as he has got backing from investors to continue his research. Magcap Engineering (which we secretly think should be called Madcap!) believe that Wadle is onto something and that they could potentially produce a voltage of 12 volts by the end of 2006. The idea is that trees absorb power from a kind of underground lightening (?). Wadle has been tapping into this energy by driving nails into the tree and attaching them to copper water pipes he has buried in the ground. This sounds pretty Heath Robinson stylee to us, and rather tortuous for the tree, but apparently a patent has been applied for. The president of Magcap Chris Lagadinos describes it thus: "Think of the environment as a battery, in this case, with the tree as the positive pole and the grounding rod as the negative." However Mass High Tech have got an expert in on the subject. Jim Manwell is the director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Renewable Energy Resource Laboratory, and is not convinced by Wadle and Magcap's electric trees. Infact he is rather concise on the matter: "I'm wildly skeptical"! Via :: Engadget