Soon the hum of high-voltage electric towers will come from the electricity they produce, not just what they conduct. The Wind-it, a design by French architects Nicola Delon and Julien Choppin and engineer Raphael Menard, inserts a vertical turbine inside the towers. Large wind farms need lots of land; Wind-it could be installed anywhere along the 157,000 miles of high-voltage aboveground wires in the U.S. The turbines also plug right into the grid, saving the cost of stringing cable to remote areas. The inventors are currently looking for an industrial partner to turn their scale model into a 330-foot-tall tower, which their computer simulations suggest could generate up to a megawatt of electricity—enough to power 400 homes. “The Midwest needs new power lines,” Menard says, “and because the towers will cross high-wind fields, it could be perfect for Wind-it.”single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.