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Concept: Electrical generator


Direct electric power generation using biological functions have become a research focus due to their low cost and cleanliness. Unlike major approaches using glucose fuels or microbial fuel cells (MFCs), we present a generation method with intrinsically high energy conversion efficiency and generation with arbitrary timing using living electric organs of Torpedo (electric rays) which are serially integrated electrocytes converting ATP into electric energy. We developed alternative nervous systems using fluid pressure to stimulate electrocytes by a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine (Ach), and demonstrated electric generation. Maximum voltage and current were 1.5 V and 0.64 mA, respectively, with a duration time of a few seconds. We also demonstrated energy accumulation in a capacitor. The current was far larger than that using general cells other than electrocytes (~pA level). The generation ability was confirmed against repetitive cycles and also after preservation for 1 day. This is the first step toward ATP-based energy harvesting devices.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Electricity, Neurotransmitter, Energy conversion, Coal, Electricity generation, Electrical generator, Electric power


Since Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry made their great discovery of electromagnetic induction, there have been continuous developments in electrical power generation. Most people today get electricity from thermal, hydroelectric, or nuclear power generation systems, which use this electromagnetic induction phenomenon. Here we propose a new method for electrical power generation, without using electromagnetic induction, by mechanically modulating the electrical double layers at the interfacial areas of a water bridge between two conducting plates. We find that when the height of the water bridge is mechanically modulated, the electrical double layer capacitors formed on the two interfacial areas are continuously charged and discharged at different phases from each other, thus generating an AC electric current across the plates. We use a resistor-capacitor circuit model to explain the results of this experiment. This observation could be useful for constructing a micro-fluidic power generation system in the near future.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Michael Faraday, Electricity, Nuclear power, Inductor, Inductance, Electrical generator


In this paper, Model Predictive Control and Dead-beat predictive control strategies are proposed for the control of a PMSG based wind energy system. The proposed MPC considers the model of the converter-based system to forecast the possible future behavior of the controlled variables. It allows selecting the voltage vector to be applied that leads to a minimum error by minimizing a predefined cost function. The main features of the MPC are low current THD and robustness against parameters variations. The Dead-beat predictive control is based on the system model to compute the optimum voltage vector that ensures zero-steady state error. The optimum voltage vector is then applied through Space Vector Modulation (SVM) technique. The main advantages of the Dead-beat predictive control are low current THD and constant switching frequency. The proposed control techniques are presented and detailed for the control of back-to-back converter in a wind turbine system based on PMSG. Simulation results (under Matlab-Simulink software environment tool) and experimental results (under developed prototyping platform) are presented in order to show the performances of the considered control strategies.

Concepts: Vector space, Group, Abstract algebra, Derivative, Wind power, Electrical generator, Wind turbine, Windmill


Evaporation is a ubiquitous phenomenon in the natural environment and a dominant form of energy transfer in the Earth’s climate. Engineered systems rarely, if ever, use evaporation as a source of energy, despite myriad examples of such adaptations in the biological world. Here, we report evaporation-driven engines that can power common tasks like locomotion and electricity generation. These engines start and run autonomously when placed at air-water interfaces. They generate rotary and piston-like linear motion using specially designed, biologically based artificial muscles responsive to moisture fluctuations. Using these engines, we demonstrate an electricity generator that rests on water while harvesting its evaporation to power a light source, and a miniature car (weighing 0.1 kg) that moves forward as the water in the car evaporates. Evaporation-driven engines may find applications in powering robotic systems, sensors, devices and machinery that function in the natural environment.

Concepts: Energy, Life, Water, Ecology, Earth, Natural environment, Water cycle, Electrical generator


The history of science is filled with examples of key discoveries and breakthroughs that have been published as landmark texts or journal papers, and to which one can trace the origins of whole disciplines. Such paradigm-shifting publications include Copernicus' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543), Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) and Albert Einstein’s papers on relativity (1905 and 1915). Michael Faraday’s 1832 paper on electromagnetic induction sits proudly among these works and in a sense can be regarded as having an almost immediate effect in transforming our world in a very real sense more than any of the others listed. Here we review the status of the subject-the relationship between magnetism and electricity both before and after Faraday’s paper and delve into the details of the key experiments he carried out at the Royal Institution outlining clearly how he discovered the process of electromagnetic induction, whereby an electric current could be induced to flow through a conductor that experiences a changing magnetic field. His ideas would not only enable Maxwell’s later development of his theory of classical electromagnetism, but would directly lead to the development of the electric dynamo and electric motor, two technological advances that are the very foundations of the modern world. This commentary was written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Michael Faraday, Magnetic field, Electricity, Maxwell's equations, Electrical generator, Isaac Newton, Royal Society


Wind turbines generate electricity by removing kinetic energy from the atmosphere. Large numbers of wind turbines are likely to reduce wind speeds, which lowers estimates of electricity generation from what would be presumed from unaffected conditions. Here, we test how well wind power limits that account for this effect can be estimated without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. We first use simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) that explicitly simulates the effects of wind turbines to derive wind power limits (GCM estimate), and compare them to a simple approach derived from the climatological conditions without turbines [vertical kinetic energy (VKE) estimate]. On land, we find strong agreement between the VKE and GCM estimates with respect to electricity generation rates (0.32 and 0.37 We m(-2)) and wind speed reductions by 42 and 44%. Over ocean, the GCM estimate is about twice the VKE estimate (0.59 and 0.29 We m(-2)) and yet with comparable wind speed reductions (50 and 42%). We then show that this bias can be corrected by modifying the downward momentum flux to the surface. Thus, large-scale limits to wind power use can be derived from climatological conditions without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. Consistent with the GCM simulations, the approach estimates that only comparatively few land areas are suitable to generate more than 1 We m(-2) of electricity and that larger deployment scales are likely to reduce the expected electricity generation rate of each turbine. We conclude that these atmospheric effects are relevant for planning the future expansion of wind power.

Concepts: Energy, Renewable energy, Wind, Wind power, Electrical generator, Wind turbine, Windmill, Environmental effects of wind power


The past five years has seen considerable expansion of wind power generation in Ontario, Canada. Most recently worries about exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) from wind turbines, and associated electrical transmission, has been raised at public meetings and legal proceedings. These fears have not been based on any actual measurements of EMF exposure surrounding existing projects but appear to follow from worries from internet sources and misunderstanding of the science.

Concepts: Health, Human, Electromagnetism, Wind power, Electrical generator, Wind turbine, Windmill, Wind power in the United Kingdom


We demonstrate a stretchable hybridized nanogenerator based on highly conductive fabric of glass fibers (GFs) / silver nanowires (AgNWs) / polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Including a triboelectric nanogenerator and an electromagnetic generator, the hybridized nanogenerator can deliver output voltage/current signals from stretchable movements by both the triboelectrification and the electromagnetic induction, maximizing the efficiency of energy scavenging from one motion. As compared with the individual energy harvesting units, the hybridized nanogenerator has a better charging performance, where a 47 µF capacitor can be charged to 2.8 V in only 16 s. The hybridized nanogenerator can be integrated with a bus grip for scavenging wasted biomechanical energy from human body movements to solve the power source issue of some electric devices in pure electric bus.

Concepts: Electric charge, Electricity, Energy, Maxwell's equations, Inductor, Power, Electrical generator, Triboelectric effect


Converting body heat into electricity is a promising strategy for supplying power to wearable electronics. To avoid the limitations of traditional solid-state thermoelectric materials, such as frangibility and complex fabrication processes, we fabricated two types of thermogalvanic gel electrolytes with positive and negative thermo-electrochemical Seebeck coefficients, respectively, which correspond to the n-type and p-type elements of a conventional thermoelectric generator. Such gel electrolytes exhibit not only moderate thermoelectric performance but also good mechanical properties. Based on these electrolytes, a flexible and wearable thermocell was designed with an output voltage approaching 1 V by utilizing body heat. This work may offer a new train of thought for the development of self-powered wearable systems by harvesting low-grade body heat.

Concepts: Electricity, Thermodynamics, Thought, Alternating current, Thermoelectric effect, Type, Train, Electrical generator


Secondary magnetic fields are induced by the flow of electrically conducting seawater through the Earth’s primary magnetic field (‘ocean dynamo effect’), and hence it has long been speculated that tsunami flows should produce measurable magnetic field perturbations, although the signal-to-noise ratio would be small because of the influence of the solar magnetic fields. Here, we report on the detection of deep-seafloor electromagnetic perturbations of 10-micron-order induced by a tsunami, which propagated through a seafloor electromagnetometer array network. The observed data extracted tsunami characteristics, including the direction and velocity of propagation as well as sea-level change, first to verify the induction theory. Presently, offshore observation systems for the early forecasting of tsunami are based on the sea-level measurement by seafloor pressure gauges. In terms of tsunami forecasting accuracy, the integration of vectored electromagnetic measurements into existing scalar observation systems would represent a substantial improvement in the performance of tsunami early-warning systems.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Michael Faraday, Magnetic field, Earth's magnetic field, Earth, Dynamo theory, Measurement, Electrical generator