by ANDREW TOLVE in The New York Times Magazine
Conservationists argue that wind turbines pose a risk to birds, bats and sensitive habitats like shorelines. People living close to wind farms, meanwhile, complain of constant noise and vibration. This year, engineers responded with a new way to draw electricity from the wind: oscillating wind panels.
The wind panels are the brainchild of Francis Moon, a professor of mechanical engineering at Cornell University. He created a panel of 25 pads that oscillate in the wind, much the way leaves vibrate when a gust of air sifts through a tree. The pads attach to piezoelectric materials that produce electricity from each vibration.
Moon and a team of undergraduates have a working prototype called Vibro-Wind, which functions in variable wind speeds and generates little noise, making it ideally suited for urban spaces. Moon envisions Vibro-Wind on the sides and roofs of buildings, powering electronics and ad displays day and night.