Do you own a clunky, thump-y, no-so-discreet washing machine that sends you into duck-and-cover earthquake panic mode when it goes into spin cycle? If researchers at Bristol University have their way, owning tremble-prone household appliances like washing machines and dishwashers might actually be a good thing. The vibe-loving researchers are developing a device that will harvest the kinetic energy produced by appliances, turning annoying vibrations into a source of free, clean energy.

That said don’t expect a vibration-harvesting device to power your entire home via washing machine shaking. However, this battery-free gizmo that uses non-linear spring and mass could tap into enough kinetic energy to charge small gadgets like your cell phone or iPod. In addition to household appliances, researchers are taking it a step further by looking into the possibility of harvesting energy from things like trains and helicopters. According to Business Green, similar "energy harvesting" technology does exist but its frequency-reading range is limited. 

Says project lead, Dr. Stephen Burrow:

There's a huge amount of free, clean energy out there in the form of vibrations that just can't be tapped at the moment. Wider-frequency energy harvesters could make a valuable contribution to meeting energy needs more efficiently and sustainably," said Burrow.
Brilliant. I'd certainly love to charge my cell phone using energy produced by a rattling washer and dryer. How about you?

Via [Business Green] via [TreeHugger]


Photo: Superbaka

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.