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Piezoelectric Trees

Aesthetically pleasing wind power
  (+18, -5)(+18, -5)
(+18, -5)
  [vote for,

I live in an area that gets a lot of wind, and I would love to have a way of harnessing the wind in my backyard, for use in my house. However, my wife, my neighbors and the city would probably object to me erecting a big wind turbine in my backyard.

I propose to genetically modify trees so that they grow bark that contains piezo material in the inner bark, and conductive material (carbon?) in the outer bark. As the branches sway in the wind, the piezo material produces a charge, which is carried by the outer bark to the ground, where a special ring around the base of the tree picks up the current and sends it to my house, or a portable energy storage of some kind (e.g. fuel cell). Every month or so I go around to all the trees in my yard and swap out the fuel cells, much like collecting maple sap. Or perhaps we could alter the trees to drop solid-hydrogen acorns, which would be collected by specially trained squirrels.

The reason for doing this with a tree is that a tree is a large (self-constructing) structure with a lot of surface area exposed to the wind, that is acceptable to have in your backyard. Also there are no moving parts to cause grief for the wildlife.

This could of course be scaled up to create piezoelectric forests, piezoelectric kelp beds, etc.

davem, Mar 22 2002

Bionic Plants http://www.halfbake...dea/Bionic_20Plants
Apropos. Kinda. [phoenix, Mar 22 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

biomednet http://www.bmn.com/
934,461 Members, and growing - order parts for a home-based biobaker lab [thumbwax, Mar 25 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Lightning damage to tree http://wvlightning.com/coonskin1.html
(davem's link, moved from his annotation) [bristolz, Mar 27 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Bamboo power http://www.kviv75ja...edstrijd/index.html
In dutch, under "boomkracht", literally "tree power". [django, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Engineers Devise a Way To Harvest Wind Energy From Trees http://news.slashdo...d-energy-from-trees
[xaviergisz, Feb 11 2016]


       "genetically modify"   

       Ptooey! Fishbone.
waugsqueke, Mar 22 2002

       Instead of genetic mods that are, well, too far-fetched even for this bastion of the far-fetched, just attach piezo electric strips to the trees.   

       Not sure if you'll get any real usable power out of them, though.
bristolz, Mar 22 2002

       Boned for magic. Consider something that might actually work.   

       Until then, [removed], 'wouldn't it be neat if magic technology worked'.
StarChaser, Mar 23 2002

       A Dane, not Hamlet I think, has patented a device for generating electricity from the swaying of trees in the wind. Clever people, the Danes.
Dog Ed, Mar 24 2002

       Yes, the "genetically modify" part leaves a bad taste in my mouth too. How about we feed it piezo fertilizer instead. Or the "special ring" would release piezo material into the cambium layer of the bark.   

       My original thought was to construct trees out of piezo material, but that would be a lot of work and would make for weird-looking trees.
davem, Mar 25 2002

       Or make a tree with mini windmill leaves.
arora, Mar 25 2002

       Genius idea, although I agree with the previous posters that it may be easier and more politically acceptable to just attach piezo- electric materials to existing trees, instead of genetically engineering a piezoelectric tree.
Jeremi, Mar 26 2002

       Could be interesting in a thunderstorm...
kamakala, Mar 26 2002

       Re: thunderstorm, yes, the "special ring" would have to be able to deal with a lightning strike as the current flows down the conductive bark. This may burn some of the bark, but that would be better than blowing the tree into splinters like some trees that are struck by lightning (  [admin: URL moved from here to 'link' area. -- bristolz]  ).   

       So does anyone (besides Doctor Emmett Brown) have a way to capture some of the energy from a lightning strike?
davem, Mar 27 2002

       I like this idea, although it may be slightly far-fetched. Although one or two trees in your backyard might not be worth messing around with, a whole forest full of these might just generate enough power to be worth the trouble.   

       [Mephista] - Most windmills (at least the larger, prettier kind of which I assume you speak) are made out of trees.
Pseudonym #3, Mar 27 2002

       I can just imagine what would happen to the squirrels who move from one potential to another.... BZZZZAAAPPP!! This is potentially a problem, especially from one side of the tree to another, or from the twigs to the branches, because more flexion means more voltage, and thus areas that are bending more than others have a higher potential. This could produce some pretty significant V gradients, given the right combination.
thedick, Apr 26 2003

       The problem with this (whether you GM the trees or not) is, you'll get voltage, but not much current. To get anything out of this, you'd hafta spend gigabucks and do a whole forest, which would be counterproductive. Better to do it some way which generates more raw energy (kinetic, not potential).
galukalock, Apr 26 2003

       I too have been thinking about some type of pizoelectric tree power generation for a year or so, but are still only at the very early stages of development.
barnsey, Dec 03 2003

       Kite flying will never be the same.
RayfordSteele, Dec 03 2003

       So, get a group of people together in a co-op, and build a big wind turbine. Fun! Profit!
willard_b_trophy, Mar 14 2004

       A Belgian won the first prize of some "green energy competition" with his "bamboo power" idea.   

       [See link].   

       The idea basically comes down to planting fast growing bamboo or palm trees in regions where desertification is happening. As these trees withstand the strong winds of deserts, they can easily generate electricity, simply by attaching a cable and a flywheel to them. As the tree bends in the wind, the cable gets pulled up and down.   

       One 30ft bamboo generates 150 watts in windspeeds of around 20 to 30kph, palm trees up to 200 watts.   

       This is a simple idea for isolated developing regions who can't afford wind turbines. And the planted trees serve to stop the encroaching desertification as well.
django, Jun 22 2004

       I had the idea of Piezoelectric Grass the other day, then I come to check no-one has considered that and lookie here.   

       In my idea, 'grass' means anything from 1 inch blades to something the size of wheat crops, etc. Depending on the location, prevailing winds, appearance you want, etc. you can make it any size you like.   

       A tree is close enough to grass to warrant me not posting my idea, but I think grass will work better because:   

       - You can manufacture a 'roll' of Piezoelectric Grass easily. Each blade will have piezoelectric material on it and have maybe some capacitance/diode arrangement built in.   

       - In a matrix of grass on each roll. Each 'row' generating current, which flows into a 'column'. Many rolls can be linked together to get more output. The more rolls you link the more stable the power.   

       - If you had a forest of trees, those in the centre tend to be isolated and not move much. In a field of grass, the wind blows over the whole field without much deflection/absorbsion.   

raintonr, Aug 26 2005

       Thousands of little wind turbines with green blades.
Antegrity, Aug 26 2005

       I seem to recall that "Tails for All" holds some sort of record for most annos/croissants...and the whole basis of the idea was that magic technology, "genetic modification."   

       Granted people liked it so much because they wanted it to be true, but that doesn't change the facts my friends.
Eugene, Aug 29 2005

       Picture the fins of darts attached to a long cable and a housing. A small pinwheel, but a bunch of them providing motive force. A tall tree of shaped laflets spinning, spinning. Cables could be the trunk, or these cables could be strewn over bigger limbs.
subflower, Aug 29 2005

       That nickel-titanium memory metal generates a small charge when flexed. Might be just the ticket in large quantities.
oniony, Aug 29 2005

       Dream like you will live forever, live like you'll die today! - james dean   

       I like the idea of piezoelectrics especially with the idea of creating grass or algae like structures out of the material and placing it in a stream of water or air. It would go a long way to clean up the rap of hydro power with ugly dams. Keep the ideas rolling! Check out www.advancedceramics.com!
fity, Aug 30 2005


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