Windbelt Wind Power Machine Tosses Out The Turbine

All of the cute little wind-power devices we've seen rely on turbines. One inventor finally said, "Screw the turbine," and built a wind-powered generator that behaves rather like a badly designed bridge.

Yes, Shawn Frayne's Windbelt was inspired by "Galloping Gertie," the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that collapsed in 1940, whose video is all over the net and occasionally shown on MythBusters. Wind passes over the Windbelt's taut membrane, and the vibrations it picks up (think leaf whistle) jiggle magnets on either end. The magnets, oscillating between metal coils, generate a current. And a substantial current, if you believe the reporting:

Prototypes have generated 40 milliwatts in 10-mph slivers of wind, making his device 10 to 30 times as efficient as the best microturbines.

Frayne hopes that his invention will be put to use in developing countries such as Haiti, where there is currently an overreliance on kerosene for light. As you can see in Popular Mechanics' video, LEDs connected to the Windbelt light up easily in a gentle breeze. [Popular Mechanics via Gadget Lab]