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This portable wind turbine can create electricity anywhere
Backpackers, mountain climbers, cycle tourists and campers in general all know how hard electrical recharging can be in the middle of a wilderness. Yet with smartphones having become so important nowadays – if only because of their GPS, camera and of course emergency call functions – it is inconceivable that they be allowed to run out of battery. The question then becomes how to power them back up if someone is tens if not hundreds of miles away from the nearest plug. The potential solution is a portable mini wind turbine small enough to fit into a backpack or tote bag.
Tiny and ultra-easy to use
In Eastern Canada’s Nova Scotia province - a great locale for outdoor sports –a startup named Aurea Technologies has come up with the idea of an easily transportable wind turbine that it calls Shine. No bigger than a water bottle, the product weighs just 1.3 kilos and is designed to be easily disassembled and stored. Indeed, it is so handy that, once folded, it fits into a rucksack’s side pocket.
Shine is eminently user-friendly and only takes a minute or two to set up. After removing the mount and sticking the product’s tent-like pegs into the ground, the compact (hence transportable) turbine blades are very easy to extend. All that remains then is to secure the mount, at which point Shine is ready to go!
A sustainable, small but powerful energy source
Thanks to renewable wind energy, Shine can store enough energy in an hour to recharge three or four mobile phones using a USB cable. According to Aurea Technologies, the product’s 29.5 watt per kilogram power-to-weight ratio means that it is more efficient than comparable solar panels, thermoelectric stoves or hydraulic turbines.
Indeed, Aurea claims that Shine’s energy output increases by a factor of eight with a doubling of wind speed – a performance that, when “combined with Shine’s highly efficient blades and lightweight design, allows it to produce maximum power with the least weight of any other portable renewable charger”.
Performance in windless conditions
Unlike a solar panel requiring direct exposure to the sun, Shine even works in light breezes of no more than 13 kilometers per hour. Nor does rain disturb it. It functions in temperatures ranging from 0 to 40 degrees Celsius. And on top of this, it is silent.
A fervent combatant in the fight against climate change, Aurea’s Cat Adalay – also a great fan of sailing and other outdoor activities – explains her start-up’s decision to launch with a renewable energy product in the following terms: "Growing up, I was struck by the fact that climate change was destined to become the biggest challenge my generation would ever face. While pursuing my engineering studies, I understood that renewable energy and microgrid technology and innovation would come to play a crucial role in this battle”. Future plans for the company therefore revolve around the "the untapped potential of wind energy", specifically where residential uses are involved.
For the moment, Shine can be pre-ordered at a price of US$329 on funding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indigogo.
Note that Aurea’s efforts to develop its innovative product also benefit at present from government and private funding. Shine is currently in the process of being certified and will soon be made available to all of Aurea’s initial customers. Following this, Adalay and her colleague Rachel Carr, working together with their five employees and long list of subcontractors, will be able to sell their product in outdoor retail outlets all across Canada and the United States, with Europe soon to follow.
Note the possibility of a further solution for backpackers or van-campers in need of battery recharges - portable solar photovoltaic panels, capable of charging phones or GPS systems and also of storing energy in external batteries for later use. Having said that, the charging performance and indeed practicality of this category of products is highly variable, if only because of the correlation between charging requirements and panel sizes. Moreover, solar PV only works when the sun shines.