We love trees and we love wind turbines. So we’ve created some tech that combines the two in order to bring invisible renewable energy to a tree near you.
I’m not talking about sticking a wind turbine poking out of the top of a tree - that would be ridiculous.
Inspired by the flexibility of electric wallpaper and the graceful movement of tidal energy generators we’ve created a material that can be wrapped around the limbs of a tree.
Our kitchen has a view on quite a few mature trees - we’ve got beech, silver birch, black poplar, ash and cherry trees. We’ve had strong wind a few times over winter so sitting here on days I’ve worked from home I’ve watched the trees sway back and forth and realised there’s energy to be harvested which may also reduce the likelihood of trees being blown down.
The material we’ve created has two microscopic generation layers (proprietary molecular substance that we’re patenting so I can’t share details here yet) and these layers can move against each other in any direction. As they move a miniscule current is generated (similar to pizoelectric spark generators). The material also has two fine copper mesh layers (either side of the generation layers) across the whole sheet too which means the current of each molecular interaction can be captured. The copper mesh means the material can be cut and shaped - long thin strips or wider sections - and connectors attached anywhere along the sides in a similar way to the electric wallpaper I've written about.
You simply cut the pieces needed and wrap them round the major limbs and trunk of the tree. There needs to be a bit of thought and planning here as the objective is wrap along lengths of branch that have a decent sway in the wind as that’s where the movement creates the generation. Having wrapped them then the connectors are applied and thin wires (the energy is all low voltage DC just the same as solar panels) attached to connect back to a main tree-generator point.
The material can be printed with a finishing textured surface meaning if you get the wrap right it’s virtually invisible - particularly once there’s leaves on the trees.
Energy is generated when there’s movement. The draw of electricity has to be carefully modulated - if you were to try to put too heavy a load on a wind generator you could actually make it stall. You’ll have seen this in reverse if you take a battery powered toy car with a motor - applying a greater grip to the wheel you can stop it rotating so the same happens in reverse. For the tree generator we can apply the same principal - if we try to draw too much electricity then that pushes back on the interaction between the two generator layers which means the material appears to get stiffer and hence that can steady, or dampen, the movement of the tree in excessive wind - potentially (although we’ve not had a strong enough wind yet) enough to stop the tree blowing down.
So there you go - invisible renewable energy in your garden or street. Energy that literally grows on trees.
Sign up now and we’ll be in touch when the product is ready for you to grow your own renewable energy.