If you’ve been paying attention, you know that renewable solar energy has become super portable, with companies like REI selling items like foldable packable solar mats that outdoor enthusiasts can take with on their expeditions in order to keep their gadgets charged. Even big players in the energy markets like NRG have shown interest in smaller companies that are in the market of making personal solar energy items like backpacks with built-in solar panels that can recharge the devices you’ve stashed inside while you’re on-the-go. But how about wind? Harnessing the power of wind conjures up images of huge fields of gigantic monolithic metal structures that look like they were planted there by some futuristic cyborg society. Once those big daddies are positioned, they ain’t going anywhere. You’ve probably never heard of a renewable wind-energy source that you could actually carry around with you, have you? That is, you haven’t until now.
A Polish company (you know, the Poles from Poland, best vodka in the world) that specializes in 3D printing has actually begun developing a mobile wind turbine that, when not in use, can be broken down and stuffed into a specialized backpack for quick transport, no power tools required. Even more impressive, their model is open-source, meaning that anyone can come along and improve upon or customize the design using their work as a foundation. It’s the linux of the renewable wind-energy world.
Want to be further impressed? Omni3D is designing the AirEnergy3D (AE3D) such that you can produce some of the parts yourself at home. Yep DIYers, you can construct the entire thing yourself using a combination of the basic kit provided by Omni3D which includes a few select parts like the inverter and cables that cannot be 3D printed, and other parts of the turbine you fabricate yourself with raw materials and 3D printing technology. Now that would make for an awesome household project (fun for the whole family) or fantastic classroom learning opportunity!
The fact that this turbine utilizes 3D printing technology means not only that you can really scratch that DIY itch, but that in the future if certain parts need replacement they can simply be reprinted. No buying of new parts required. For those parts that cannot be 3D printed, Omni3D wants to further develop the product’s open-source database so that even the basic kit can be easily assembled from or replaced by parts that can be purchased locally wherever you are.
The turbine cranks out up to 300W of power in ideal conditions, can recharge multiple devices at once, and can even be plugged-in to your house’s electrical system to offset your reliance on the grid and save you some money on your electricity bills.
Among the design issues Omni3D is still hashing out is the base and how to make it so that it can be affixed to a variety of surfaces. But yes, if you’ve been dreaming about your own futuristic cyborg society with your own personalized wind farm in your backyard or on your roof, your time is coming. Otherwise, if you’re heading into a low-light high-wind area (say a hurricane zone) or you just want something to take camping with you so you can keep your tablet juiced, consider becoming a Kickstarter backer of the AE3D for first dibs and to help Omni3D finalize the product and eventually donate fully-functional turbines to African villages with dire energy needs.