For times when a portable battery pack and solar charger won’t do, the power of the wind could be the way to charge your smartphone. École Cantonale d’Art Lausanne design student Nils Ferber has developed the Micro Wind Turbine, which came out of his personal experience of running out of battery during extended treks.
“I contacted a number of mountaineers, climbers, film-makers, and expedition leaders and asked them questions about their experiences, requirements and typical weather conditions. All of my contacts told me that they are usually using solar panels. But being entirely dependent on sunshine is a huge problem for them, sometimes putting them out of work for several days,” Ferber wrote on the James Dyson Award site. “They were instantly excited about a wind turbine but pointed out that weight, pack size and ease of use would be of greatest importance for them.”
To satisfy portability requirements, the Micro Wind Turbine weighs just over 2 pounds, which Ferber claims is 40 percent lighter than its closest competitor, and folds down to the size of an umbrella or trekking pole. Setting up the turbine is also designed to be easy thanks to a telescopic shaft that unfolds the wind-catching blades, also similar to the opening of an umbrella.
Properly set up, the turbine can generate five watts in an 11 mph wind, and can store that energy for later. “The turbine has an integrated 24 Wh battery pack that works as a buffer between [incoming] and outgoing loads and can also store energy for later use,” Ferber detailed to Digital Trends.
Ferber says that there are no other wind turbines of similar scale commercially available at the moment. “Comparable concepts are usually composed of many complex parts, are a lot heavier or produce only an insignificantly small output. Unsurprisingly, these mentioned drawbacks render them useless in real-world scenarios.”
Ferber completed a fully-working prototype of the Micro Wind Turbine by himself in June. Despite the Micro Wind Turbine’s design not requiring injection molded components (permitting to manufacture with little investment cost), Ferber says that further development is required before production.
“At the moment I consider the turbine too complex to go into production right away,” Ferber said. “Therefore I am currently looking for partners to continue the development toward a commercial product.”
The Micro Wind Turbine will debut at Dubai Design Week on October 24 to 29, 2016.