Getting serious about the "any-direction" energy converter

Posted by Pete Danko, EarthTechling

Like a lot of garage-hatched, wannabe-groundbreaking energy generating schemes, the WITT device sounds eminently sensible and a little bit ridiculous. It converts motion – motion in any direction – into rotational energy … and it can do it for almost any purpose imaginable?

But the WITT, from the U.K. team of Martin and Mairi Wickett – he’s the engineer, she’s the business side – appears be picking up momentum: In August, the device won a£190,000 ($305,000) development grant from the UK Technology Strategy Board, and then last week it took home the $100,000 Gulfstream Navigator Award from the Ocean Exchange, an international organization that tries to promote “the adoption across industries of solutions that positively impact the environment, economics and health.”

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The WITT device (image via University of Exeter Youtube video)

The company that financed the latest award, Gulfstream parent General  Dynamics, sounded sold on the WITT.

“WITT’s energy-harvesting solution will significantly contribute to increased energy production from renewable resources,” company executive vice president Joe Lombardo said in a statement. “Additionally, it has a wide range of applications, from small personal appliances to large-scale marine renewable energy. We’re excited about this product’s environmental potential.”

So what is it? Well, the name tells a lot of the story: Whatever Input to Torsion Transfer.  The WITT bobs, twists and turns to collect chaotic energy clockwise, counterclockwise, up, down, back and forth – all six directions – and then transfers it to a flywheel to create electricity.

A selling point the company offers is the ability to make the device very small or very large or anywhere in between.

At large size, the device could be used to capture ocean energy, a possibility that has gained the interest of the marine and energy company A&P Group as well as the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of Exeter in South West England, where marine energy is being sought. Other marine uses floated include lighting navigational buoys and charging moored boats. Scale it way down, and you get uses such as “on land in a backpack, utilising all motional energy from walking or jogging and converting it into energy that can be stored and used as and when needed, charging appliances, (or to) illuminate pedestrians or animals in the dark.”

Pete Danko, EarthTechling