Planting trees is a good idea for saving the environment from global warming. However considering the present scenario where the amount of damage that has been done to the environment is huge, it is a long wait before the benefits of planting trees really make an impact.
All this could change if rather than waiting for the natural growth cycle of trees, artificial’ trees can be used for energy generation.
These artificial trees can be used to harness two types of renewable energies -: Solar energy and Wind energy, thus replicating the working of a solar-wind harvester. Use of such artificial trees is clean and environmentally friendly. These trees utilize light, heat and wind to harness energy which is then used to generate clean electricity.
This science of imitating the functions of natural trees has been termed as biomimicry.
The concept incorporates the three energy generation techniques of photovoltaics (generating solar electricity), thermoelectrics (generating electricity from heat) and piezoelectrics (generating electricity from pressure) into the shape of a leaf called a ‘nanoleaf’. The nanoleaf forms the core of the entire concept.
A nanoleaf is a natural looking leaf that contains tiny photovoltaic and thermoelectric elements. The nanoleaves utilize much of the light spectrum to generate electricity while reflecting a small portion of the light.
It can also convert energy from the invisible light spectrum known as infrared radiation into electricity using the tiny thermoelectric elements thus working even after sunset.
Tiny piezoelectric elements are fixed in the petiole twigs and branches of these artificial trees. When wind moves the nanoleaves causing them to flap back and forth, the mechanical stress is felt in the petiole, twigs and branches. This mechanical stress is then converted into energy by the tiny piezoelectric elements incorporated in the tree generating millions of Pico watts of electricity.
The artificial energy tree is to be made of recycled materials and its trunks will look like natural wood.
Installing such a tree would be done by drilling holes into the ground followed by anchoring the base and trunk into the ground. The branches would be assembled as segments.
The trees will provide a supply of clean and renewable energy.
The trees look like natural trees and therefore can be utilized to provide a scenic view by mimicking gardens and possibly forests.
They can mimic the functions of natural trees like acting as sound buffers and providing shade during the summer.