Electricity from a Biomimetic Tree

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Credit: LassenNPS / CC BY 2.0

Scientists from Iowa State University in the United States have developed a unique gadget that can imitate the leaves and branches of a tree and help in electricity generation.

The design has been led by a professor of genetics, Michael McCloskey, who has stated that the technology will produce a market for small machines that can turn wind energy into electricity. The advantage of this setup is its aesthetics and it’s a smaller size that can be favorable for off-grid energy harvesting. The professor has also stated that earlier telephone towers have been disguised as trees with leaves to beautify them. Also, tapping energy from the leaves will improve their efficiency.

The design of the tree includes a metallic trellis with leaves as a dozen plastic flaps. Curtis Mosher, co-author of the paper and scientist has quoted that this endeavor will definitely be doable but the trick is to do it without compromising on efficiency.

The design works on the following logic-

The design is based on a Cottonwood tree, as their flattened leaf stalks produce an electric charge when moved by air. This process is called ‘piezoelectric effects’. Regular oscillation of leaves will generate electricity.

However, more research and work need to be done on this to make it a reliable source to convert wind energy into electricity.

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