Broadband energy harvesting from tree-like mechanical structures

Harvesting energy from renewable resources, such as wind and ocean waves, is an important issue facing our world today. With the increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, there is a need to move away from nonrenewable resources and to find new methods for capturing energy. Wind turbines operate most efficiently within a narrow band of wind speeds, outside of which the amount of electricity they produce plummets. To capture wind energy from random wind gusts over a broader band of wind speeds, flexible harvesters have been created that bend in the wind to convert wind energy into electrical energy. These can also be used to generate energy from ocean waves and currents. For this project, we will use simple, treelike mechanical structures to harvest energy in this way. We expect to increase the efficiency of these mechanical treelike harvesters by deriving a mathematical theory for the tree structure dynamics as well as by performing simulations to optimize parameters of the tree such as branch stiffness and materials used. Also, we will look at the feasibility of using alternative methods to generate electricity within the tree structure.

Faculty Supervisor:

Vakhtang Putkaradze


Mitchell Canham






University of Alberta


Globalink Research Award

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