Power for the third world was inspired by a 1940 Washington bridge. Shawn Frayne, a 28-year-old inventor, has found a way to capture the energy that caused the bridge to fall.
Galloping Gertie (aka Tacoma Narrows Bridge) collapsed on November 7, 1940 but not before becoming a tourist attraction - something of a carnival ride. Spanning Tacoma Narrows, a stiff breeze would set the center spanning bridge to resonating, the bridge would toss and turn, rolling across the gap, causing cars in front and behind to disappear and reappear with the waves. The bridge lasted four months.
Frayne realized the same energy that caused the bridge to buckle could be captured to drive micro-generators. His prototypes use a membrane under tension that is fitted with a pair of magnets. The magnets oscillate between metal coilshave and generate 40 milliwatts in winds of just 10-mph. His WindBelt is 10 to 30 times as efficient as the best available competing technologies. Applications include powering LEDs, clocks, small/battery-powered appliances, and microscopic HD plasma screens for the Sunday game.
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