Tiny, flapping flags to generate wind power

Can the friction of tiny flapping flags harvest wind power? Yes, say researchers, suggesting that building arrays of flags may generate substantial quantities of power in the near future.

New York: Can the friction of tiny flapping flags harvest wind power? Yes, say researchers, suggesting that building arrays of flags may generate substantial quantities of power in the near future.

The researchers built flags - less than five inches in length and four in width but varied in dimensions - from a synthetic textile coated with gold, a highly efficient conductor.

When a breeze hits the small contraption, the gold-coated flag stirs into motion, brushing against a conducting counter plate. This rubbing action builds a static charge - known as the triboelectric effect - that is gathered by a capacitor, wired.com reported.

"In a low breeze, longer, thinner flags generated more charge because they contacted the counter plate more often," the authors wrote in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

The flag generators were durable. After over 12 million flutters, a test flag began to tatter but showed only a tiny decrease in power output, the report added.