Windbelt (that device on the table...) charging a cell phone. Photo: Humdinger Wind.
It was nearly a year ago when TreeHugger first reported on the Windbelt , an innovative new wind energy technology which eschews turbines altogether. The technology was a Popular Mechanics 2007 Breakthrough Award winner but we hadn’t heard too much about it since then until now.
Shawne Frayne, president of Humdinger Wind Energy and the Windbelt’s inventor, is one of five finalists for the Curry Stone Design Prize. He’s up against some stiff competition—check out the other Curry Stone finalists— but if he comes out on top Frayne will claim a $100,000 prize. We’ll find out on September 25th when the winner is announced at the IdeaFestival in Louisville, Kentucky.
For those who missed it the first time around, here’s how the Windbelt works:
Aerostatic Flutter Generates Power
Humdinger Wind on the problem and their solution:
For the past thousand years, wind power has centered around rotation. Rotating dutch wind mills for pounding grain, rotating sail designs for pumping water, and most recently rotating turbine-based generators for creating electricity. These approaches work fine for the macro-applications for which they were originally designed. However, on the small scale, rotating systems have big problems. Efficiency losses in gear boxes, decreased efficiency of miniaturized airfoils, the need for specialized bearings to reduce wear...all lead to system failure in hours, 1% efficiencies, and the need for hurricane speed winds.
Humdinger’s core technology, the Windbelt generator, gets around these problems by putting aside rotation entirely. Instead, we have developed a method by which a taut, vibrating membrane, coupled with a no-contact, direct-drive electrical generator, can tap the energy of flowing air. The effect we capitalize on is known as aeroelastic flutter, most famously exhibited in the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse.
:: Curry Stone Design Prize
Micro Wind Power
The Windbelt: Third-World Wind Power
The Energy Ball: Another Innovative Option in Home Wind Turbine
Check Out the Windspire: Backyard Vertical Wind Turbine Video Clip