Scientists develop flags that can produce energy from the wind and sun

Key Points
  • The university says the flags use "flexible piezoelectric strips and flexible photovoltaic cells."
  • The research represents the latest novel and interesting way of producing energy.
University of Manchester

Researchers at the University of Manchester have designed flags that can produce energy via wind and solar power.

In a statement Monday, the university said that the flags used "flexible piezoelectric strips and flexible photovoltaic cells."

Photovoltaic refers to a way of directly converting light from the sun into electricity, while piezoelectric strips enable the flag to generate power via movement.

The university added that the flags were able to power remote sensors and small-scale portable electronics that can be used for tasks such as pollution, sound and heat monitoring.

"Wind and solar energies typically have intermittencies that tend to compensate each other," Andrea Cioncolini, a co-author of the study and senior lecturer in thermal hydraulics, said in a statement.

"The sun does not usually shine during stormy conditions, whereas calm days with little wind are usually associated with shiny sun," he added, explaining that this made wind and solar "particularly well suited for simultaneous harvesting."

The research was published in the journal Applied Energy, and represents the latest novel and interesting way of producing energy.

In 2014, for example, researchers in Canada designed a headset with a chinstrap manufactured from piezoelectric fiber composites that was able to harvest energy as the jaw moved.

A year later, researchers in the U.K. announced the development of a wearable energy generator powered with urine.

At the time, the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol described how miniaturized microbial fuel cells (MFCs) had been "embedded" into a pair of socks.

When a user walks, their urine is pumped, fueling the fuel cells and powering a wireless transmitter that sends a signal to a PC. The UWE said that MFCs contained bacteria that "generate electricity from waste fluids."