Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Tapping Trees for Electricity?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the dc-tree dept.

Power 392

dr_agonfly writes "Despite many skeptics, a Massachusetts company is getting investor interest in developing a process to tap electric power from trees. MagCap is looking to boost the current power from just under 2 volts to a more useful 12 volts with investor funding." From the article: "Jim Manwell, director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Renewable Energy Resource Laboratory, questioned the potential of MagCap's plans. 'I'm wildly skeptical,' he said. 'I would need to see proof before I believed it. It strikes me as pretty questionable for a number of reasons.'"

cancel ×

392 comments

Let's just get them out of the way... (5, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449493)


  • Imagne how much power a beowulf cluster of these trees will deliver!
  • In Soviet Russia, trees plug into YOU!
  • In Korea, only old trees produce electricity.
  • I, for one, welcome our electric tree overlords.
  • ...but will the trees run Linux?
  • All your trees are belong to us.

Re:Let's just get them out of the way... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449540)

You forgot the most obvious one:

Comes with Sony Rootkit(TM) pre-installed !

Re:Let's just get them out of the way... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449659)

This got modded funny? Good God. No wonder so many people find you an obnoxious twat.

Re:Let's just get them out of the way... (5, Funny)

merreborn (853723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449670)

Ironically, the "Let's get the cliches out of the way" post has become a cliche.

Long way to go yet... (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449494)

From the article:
He expects to find investors to help pay for the research needed to figure a way to increase the tree power from less than 2 volts to 12 volts sometime this year, creating an alternative to fossil fuels.
It sounds like they have a long way to go yet and there is reason for much skepticism. Everything has some amount of electric charge to it, even the surface of your skin. Does that mean we should research away to increase that small voltage to something larger so we can all walk around with extension cords hanging off our arms?

Afterall, there was the man who did this [bbc.co.uk] accidentally!

Re:Long way to go yet... (2, Insightful)

Mr.Zuka (166632) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449595)

Call me a skeptic but they are claiming that right now they are only able to produce under 2 volts. How much under 2 volts?

Re:Long way to go yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449623)

Won't somebody please think of the tree-hugging hippies?!

IPO (2, Interesting)

inKubus (199753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449656)

MONEY REALLY *DOES* GROW ON TREES! LOOK AT THAT TOMATO! YOU CAN EVEN CUT A TIN CAN WITH IT!

Sorry.

Ahem, I think they have already proven that there is not enough sun energy per square yard of surface area on the earth to meet even a small percentage of our yearly hydrocarbon energy consumption. However, this could be useful for highway or trail markers, maple syrup harvesters (let them know when a bucket is full without requring batteries, etc. I don't see how this could possibly be cheaper than commodity solar cells, however. What's the use. What about the thermolife [poweredbythermolife.com] , which uses thin films to create current from body heat gradients (inside a human body)? That's a revoultion. Potatoheads.

Re:Long way to go yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449753)

Even then, *power* has a specific technical meaning. Volts are a measure of something else. Using completely different terms interchangeably like this is one of the easiest ways to spot a quack or conman in a hurry.

For example, suppose they can up the tree *potential* from 2V to 12V. That's still not commercially viable unless it's producing at least an amp of current, or 12 watts of *power* (volts*amps=watts). If at 12V they only get a milliamp, there aren't going to be any practical uses (like a tree-top Wifi access point and router).

If they could get 6 amps at 2V, they just need 3 voltage doubling circuits (a few dollars apiece) to get to 12 volts at 1 amp. I've got a twenty in my wallet that could fund that, if voltage is the only problem. They aren't getting my $20 investment though no matter how many shares of their company they're willing to trade for it. I don't have that much confidence in them.

2 - 12 Volts? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449503)

How many amps? Enough to be worth it?

Re:2 - 12 Volts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449584)

Yah. I'm sure they can make a multi-million volt generator thingie, with next to 0 current.

Re:2 - 12 Volts? (1)

metternich (888601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449598)

Silly goose! A = V/R.

Re:2 - 12 Volts? (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449618)

It depends on the process that generates it, but you're right - the current is probably minimal.

Want to propose theoretical sources of charge? Wood's not a bad insulator (although nothing compared to plastics), so any charge development won't dissipate too quickly. Perhaps static charges in the leaves between different trees from wind? Doesn't seem likely that one tree would tend to build up positive charges and the other negative, with the easiest discharge route being through the ground, however. Perhaps the trees are a discharge point for particles in the atmosphere that are charged with respect to the ground?

Any other ideas?

A battery, maybe? (0, Redundant)

fgodfrey (116175) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449734)

I'm wondering if this voltage isn't the result of simple electrolysis. He's using two different metals and a living tree, unlike a piece of furniture, is full of water. Iron and copper in a salt water bath will form a battery. Will aluminum? That seems the most likely explanation.


This page was a good refresher of my chemistry memory. [creative-science.org.uk]

Too bad! (1)

rufuseddy (781982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449505)

Too bad we chopped down all the trees for paper......

Re: More useful anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449675)

I prefer wood and gas for energy. Fact is trees are bad for the environment. For example, the amazon forest is responsible for the majority of CO2 emissions on the planet. The only way that Brazil has a chance of meeting its Tokyo accord goals, is by cutting it down further...

[Insert you tree-powered invention here] (1)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449511)

Power from trees: Unlimited possibilities to provide power to necessary equipment for third world countries.

Medical equipment
Wheat/seed processessing for food
Water pumps & filtering systems
Electronic communications
Access to Slashdot out in "the bush"

However, the best idea ever is still Tomacco.

Could we see this is the future? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449517)

Broadband over electric trees?

Re:Could we see this is the future? (5, Funny)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449549)

Broadband over electric trees?

Yes, but they won't be running TCP/IP. They're be running Banyan Vines.

[ducks]

Watch out, world... (4, Funny)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449523)

...we'll be living like the ewoks [swgalaxies.net] in no time!

On second thought, I don't think they have electricity in those dens. We'll be living better than ewoks!

Nah.... (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449719)

Watch out, world ... we'll be living like the ewoks in no time!

Nah!

Tapping the trees for current will turn them into Triffids and they'll gobble us all up. Don't bother trying to climb a tree to get away from them, either.

at least they're not trying use them for cellular phone, they'll try to impress their own ring-tones on us

'nother article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449739)

When asked what his motivation was for trying to use the trees, MagCap's president responded, "I did it all for the wookies."

IN SOVIET UNION (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449530)

goats tap you in the ass

I know what would work (1)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449531)

a potato tree

Power = V * A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449534)

"He expects to find investors to help pay for the research needed to figure a way to increase the tree power from less than 2 volts to 12 volts sometime this year, creating an alternative to fossil fuels. "


Utter bullshit. Tell me how many watts you can produce. Because the question is not how many volts but how many AMPS. You aren't going to charge shit unless you can produce something more than a few microamps.

Re:Power = V * A (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449614)

Not entirely true- many of my small device chargers on my desk are running between 20-2000 mA. Anything over 2 amps would be great- anything over 20 mA would still be usefull, but you might need a small forest to create anything great.

Best part of the article (1, Redundant)

karvind (833059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449535)

"There's a fundamental law of physics," he said. "The energy has to come from somewhere."

You bet !!

Re:Best part of the article (1)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449616)

So, he has miraculously rediscovered... A Battery. Wow. I wonder if he knows you can make those out of lemons, too. The interesting development will be to see how he plans to increase the voltage. Battery voltage is directly tied to the metals used, based on their electron configurations (if my college chemistry memory is still intact). I bet he changes the metals and calls it progress towards a breakthrough.

watch for the payback (2, Funny)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449536)

Ever seen "The Matrix"? What goes around, comes around.

Re:watch for the payback (3, Funny)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449651)

So the bad guys in The Matrix were actually pissed off trees? I think you're confusing it with Lord of the Rings ;)

Re:watch for the payback (1)

femto (459605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449709)

Been wanting to get back at those damn Triffids [imdb.com] for years.

How does it work? (3, Funny)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449537)

The article doesn't do much to explain the process. Maybe this is it:

Wadle became interested in the concept while studying lightning coming from the ground, "which led him to believe that there's some type of power emanating from earth, which led him to trees," Lagadinos said.

Ah, I see. Trees produce lightning. But surely that would be more than 2 volts?

This is how it works (5, Informative)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449655)

From the article:
Lagadonis said tests have generated 0.8 volts to 1.2 volts by driving an aluminum roofing nail half an inch into a tree attached to a copper water pipe driven 7 inches into the ground.
The real source of the power is the aluminum nail, which is converted from its oxide using electricity- massive amounts of electricity. (Remember back in 2000 when aluminum producers started reselling that electricity to California during its power crisis, instead of just making aluminum with it?)

When the nail completely corrodes, the tree will stop "producing electricity" and this company will have moved on to impressing investors with potato clocks.

Great Explanation (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449724)

I think you nailed it.

Confusing terms (5, Insightful)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449543)

"the current power from just under 2 volts to a more useful 12 volts"

How about something more useful? Like wattage?

Re:Confusing terms (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449591)

Here's a number for ya: 1.21

Re:Confusing terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449712)

Watt you say?

New Matrix Movie? (1)

not5150 (732114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449545)

Coming up... Maxtrix Tree edition. Nah, doesn't seem as exciting as using humans.

Re:New Matrix Movie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449729)

But would still be better than the last 2 Matrix movies

Unlimited energy? (1)

syberdave (658106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449547)

Its a renewable source and its an unlimited source, he said. Its virtually untapped. The issue is clean energy and its readily available. There are trees everywhere.

So how much energy can one drain from a single tree? And would it harm it in any way? The energy has to come from somewhere.

Can't wait for the Matrix jokes... (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449548)

to start getting posted.

Well (4, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449550)

Now that's what I call Flower Power

Pfft! I can promise 220 V with investor funding .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449553)

Yeah ! just give me that funding and I will provide over 220 Volts from each tree.
No over 10000 Volts
Anyone ...

Re:Pfft! I can promise 220 V with investor funding (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449681)

But please put warning signs on those trees:
WARNING: Do not climb on tree. It may electrocute you!

Exactly like the Matrix... (2, Funny)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449554)

...except that there will be trees instead of humans!!! I love it! Also, no need to develop a VR world to keep trees happy and growing :-)!

Don't invest, this is bollocks. (5, Insightful)

JackDW (904211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449555)

MagCap is looking to boost the current power from just under 2 volts to a more useful 12 volts
Neither current nor power is measured in volts. If they can't get that right...

Re:Don't invest, this is bollocks. (1)

chargrilled (468628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449631)

I thought the use of "current" in the sentence was referring to the present but I could be wrong and if so then this whole idea went from way out there to really really way out there.

Re:Don't invest, this is bollocks. (1)

JackDW (904211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449689)

Maybe so, but the guy really doesn't have a clue what he's doing. So there's a potential difference between one electrode (in a tree) and another electrode (in the ground). Well, what a surprise! Give this man a prize: he's invented a spectacularly useless sort of battery and thinks he's come up with an amazing new source of energy.

It's not a limitless renewable source of energy - it will stop when the electrodes rot away. Nor is it a good source of energy - the amount of current that it can supply is likely to be tiny, because the electrolyte is hardly suitable. No doubt the man thinks he is tapping ley lines or crystal energy or something.. what a tool.

Amps? (1)

victorl19 (879236) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449559)

"He expects to find investors to help pay for the research needed to figure a way to increase the tree power from less than 2 volts to 12 volts sometime this year, creating an alternative to fossil fuels." The article mentions nothing about amperage, while high voltage may be more efficient, wouldn't amperage be the more relevant question?

volts != power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449564)

volts ain't power !

Re:volts != power (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449744)

V = kg m^2/(A s^3)
So there's a second power of m and a third power of s. And looking more closely, kg = kg^1 and A = A^1, which makes two more powers.
So volts are a lot of power! :-)

The guy made an electrochemical cell ("battery") (5, Informative)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449570)

When you hook up two dissimilar electrodes through an electrolyte (which in this case is nicely packaged within a tree and the nearby ground), you get an electrochemical potential. In the case of copper and aluminum as your electrodes, the potential is about two volts.

An easy way to get 12 volts? Connect six tree-cells in series.

Re:The guy made an electrochemical cell ("battery" (5, Informative)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449720)

An easy way to get 12 volts? Connect six tree-cells in series.

Precisely what I was going to say, and I'm sure anyone with a basic knowledge of electricity would say the same thing.

Of course, the real problem probably isn't the voltage so much as the wattage. 12 volts is great, but if it's at about .01 milliamps, it's not going to power a whole lot. Unfortunately, the article doesn't mention amps or watts, and without at least 2 of the 3, there's not really much to say about the potential (pun sort of intended).

As Gregory Hines said in Running Scared about hitting the third rail on the subway, "it's not the volts that kill you, it's the amps". A taser hits with 50,000-150,000 volts. The reason you don't burn to a crisp when you get hit by one is the amps are so low.

You want to get the voltage to a usable level, but you also need enough amps to run whatever it is you want to run. Frankly, I doubt a tree can produce enough amps, at least without permanently damaging it, for any serious period of time. The act of being a battery will cause a chemical change in the tree which I have to think wouldn't be a healthy one. Since the tree is alive, it will probably repair the damage, but whether it can repair it fast enough to keep from dying is another question.

Needless to say, I have some serious doubts about this "technology".

Re:The guy made an electrochemical cell ("battery" (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449736)

Well, yes, but how are you going to raise millions in "investment" capital by pointing that out?

"In my 25 years of practicing patent law, I've never seen anything like this."

Ah, well, if a lawyer hasn't seen anything like it it must be a revolution in chemistry.

KFG

Clueless Dweeb, he created a classic battery... (5, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449573)

The guy sounds like a clueless dweeb, he just created a classic battery with different anode and cathode (Al and Cu in his case, forget which would be which) in an electrolyte (the tree/dirt).

My guess is that iss no different from the classic lemon battery [hilaroad.com] , just replacing the galvanized (zinc-coated) nail with an aluminum nail.

Re:Clueless Dweeb, he created a classic battery... (3, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449667)

One big difference is that the lemon is dead and slowly rotting, needing replacement. The tree is living, thus the only thing that needs replacing (assuming that the drainage doesn't destroy the tree) is the anode and the cathode. But we use electricity to make aluminimum don't we? I'll bet this comes out to be energy negative in the long run.

I hope this works out... (4, Funny)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449575)

I pine for the day that this kind of energy production becomes poplar.

Re:I hope this works out... (2, Funny)

DoctaWatson (38667) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449703)

Let's just hope he's not barking up the wrong tree.

I wooden want this to fail, but who am I to birch if it does?

Re:I hope this works out... (1)

blue_adept (40915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449758)

I, fir one, would birch ya anything that they'll have to spruce up the results.

Answer to his problem (3, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449578)

From the article:Lagadonis said tests have generated 0.8 volts to 1.2 volts by driving an aluminum roofing nail half an inch into a tree attached to a copper water pipe driven 7 inches into the ground. But the electricity is useless because it's unstable and fluctuates.

Here's the answer: 13 aluminum roofing nails, 13 copper pipes, hooked up in series to an automotive voltage regulator and an ampmeter. If you get a fluctuation between 5-20 amps, take out the ampmeter and replace it with fuse and a cigarette lighter adapter, and plug in your iGo charger to charge your cell phone off of it.

Eddie Floyd Generator (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449586)

> Tapping Trees for Electricity?

It's like thunder, (Boom!)
Fast as lightning, (ZzzzowZzowZowwww!)
These cover versions are frightening,
Ya better knock, knock, knock, knock, knock...
On wood.
Baby.
Oooh, ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh!

All we have to do is wrap some magnet wire around Eddie Floyd (who wrote the original in 1966), and smother Amii Stewart in bar magnets.

Play the Amii Stewart 1978 disco version to spin Eddie Floyd's corpse up to several million RPM in one direction, and play the 2004 Rachael Stevens techno cover to get Amii spinning in the opposite direction at relativistic velocities, and you'll never lack for electricity again.

(It's only when you need to knock on wood that you realize the entire world's made of aluminum and plastic.)

Patent what? (0, Redundant)

Caesious (934790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449597)

The main problems is that he hasn't the slightest idea how to get useful electricity from a tree but yet he was able to apply for a patent. You can drive a ground rod and hoist a copper plate in the air. There will be an insignificant amount of energy generated between the two. Maybe I could patent that and the act of putting electrodes into a potato.

Finally Current bushes! (1)

rvaniwaa (136502) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449600)

with real current!

Mana pool? (1)

raisedbyrobots (808710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449608)

Whenever I tap trees, I get green mana.

Power != Volts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449611)

What's the amperage to go along with the voltage?

One also wonders if the voltage comes from the trees, or the fact that you have jabbed an aluminum spike into a water solution containing at least some dissolved electrolytes.

quick! (1)

zxnos (813588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449615)

quick, be the first on your block with a tree powered alarm clock. [ehow.com]

And we can store the electricity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449617)

...in Coconut Batteries.

Long ways to go (2, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449620)

With such a poor output, you would need an entire forest to power a TV set. While I find the article somewhat interesting, it lacks detail of any sort. It really just seems like the potato clock I saw on Mr Wizard as a kid.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Potato clock? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449622)

I wonder if it's anything like those potato clock thingies?

Doesn't this sound like a battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449627)

Just read the article. He connects an aluminum nail to copper pipe in the ground, with a big wet tree inbetween.

Don't we call those things batteries?

Unit for power is Watt. (1)

DoctorSVD (884269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449630)

From the article:

He expects to find investors to help pay for the research needed to figure a way to increase the tree power from less than 2 volts to 12 volts sometime this year, creating an alternative to fossil fuels.

Last I heard, power was measured in Watts. It's hard to take people without a grasp on such fundamental concepts seriously.

(The obligatory Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volt [wikipedia.org] )

Re:Unit for power is Watt. (1)

Snags (18929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449713)

I'm sure they meant the word power in the colloquial sense, in which case they're still wrong, because volts don't measure current, either.

No, not Treebeard! (1)

aarku (151823) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449639)

The Matrix would have been much slower paced if Neo woke up to find himself an Ent.

Morpheus/Treebeard: "I have told your name to the Entmoot, and they have seen you, and they have agreed that you need to learn Kung Fu."

Depends on the tree (1)

No2Gates (239823) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449642)

If it's a orange tree or just about any citrus tree, you can put electrodes into the fruit and get 1.5 volts per orange, put 8 of them in series and you can get your 12 volts. It would be enough to power a low power device like a radio or help charge a laptop, but you'd need a shitload of wires and orange trees to power your house.

Tree Tapping (1)

Jazzer_Techie (800432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449643)

Every one knows you can tap trees for energy. Can you say maple syrup? Let's see electricity make pancakes extra delicious. (And I suppose you could probably develop a syrup powered generator too...but that's a project for another day.)

But on a more serious note, where do people think that energy is coming from? Any energy that the tree has (whether it's in moving sap or the wood itself) came from the sun. It seems to me that this is a pretty roundabout way to extract solar power.

Ahh... so now we're tapping trees for Energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449645)

Instead of forests for Mana...

Studies need to be done (1)

nexarias (944986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449646)

Won't this affect the growth and the health of trees, if anything? There has to be an energy payoff somewhere, and if this "energy tapping" from trees is harmful to the trees, a mass degeneration of various ecological systems is possible. On the other hand, I know everyone is wishing MacGuyver was still running.. ;)

Calling Ben Franklin (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449647)

I don't know if you'd get any useful power out of this scheme, but one thing's for sure: you'd better invest in a quality surge protector before you try plugging your gear into a tree.

Snake oil? (1)

TERdON (862570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449650)

Lagadonis said tests have generated 0.8 volts to 1.2 volts by driving an aluminum roofing nail half an inch into a tree attached to a copper water pipe driven 7 inches into the ground. But the electricity is useless because it's unstable and fluctuates.

Sounds a lot like a voltaic pile [wikipedia.org] to me. Something that was made for the first time 200 years ago, only using other materials. The only new thing I can see with this implementation, is that you're using a tree instead of the traditional "little chemist's" lemon. Possibly, the idea is to have the tree regenerate the chemicals. But as they can't say anything about the power of the tappable current, we don't really know (it would be elementary to just raise the voltage - but that would also mean lowering the current...

Tapping Wallets, Not Trees (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449653)

This is about tapping investor's wallets, not trees. After all, "green" is HOT! And what could be "greener" than a tree?

Glorified Battery? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449654)

Dunno about you, but it looks to me like what we really have here is a glorified, low-level battery. The key is that one pole is aluminum, the other is copper. If they are both the same metal, then you have something.

The energy is coming from the interaction of a mildly acidic tree against the metal in the poles, and over time, the poles will corrode. It will take more energy to keep the poles uncorroded than will be generated by the "tree battery".

In short, a Jr. High School project can do better with a plate of copper, a plate of aluminum, and some paper soaked in lemon juice!

windpower 2.0? (1)

hostingreviews (941757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449657)

Maybe it's the static created by that many leaves rubbing together. Tree-static.

Not renewable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449661)

Other contributors have already explained that the tree is simply acting as an electrolyte.


It is also important to recognize that the electricity is generated purely by oxidation of the metal sheets driven in the tree. If they are gone, so is the current. The tree does not renew/regrow anything.


I wish we had less bogus science on slashdot. Maybe we need more knowledgeable editors?

Plants are producing methane (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449664)

Just saw this over at Fark: Plants are producing methane [reuters.co.uk]

As for his 2 ---> 12 volts problem... how about using a capacitor and a voltage regulator & step-up converter?

You smooth out the current delivery, step up the voltage... I'm sure the article is leaving out a lot of information. The solution couldn't be that easy

voltage boost (1)

m85476585 (884822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449677)

"He expects to find investors to help pay for the research needed to figure a way to increase the tree power from less than 2 volts to 12 volts sometime this year" This will probably save millions of dollars and years of research: Flyback or boost switching regulator here's a link: http://www.google.com/search?q=Flyback+OR+boost+sw itching+regulator [google.com] It can't do anything about power (watts or amps). For that you probably need a whole forest of trees.

Re:voltage boost (1)

m85476585 (884822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449704)

"He expects to find investors to help pay for the research needed to figure a way to increase the tree power from less than 2 volts to 12 volts sometime this year"

This will probably save millions of dollars and years of research:
Flyback or boost switching regulator
here's a link: http://www.google.com/search?q=Flyback+OR+boost+sw itching+regulator [google.com]

It can't do anything about power (watts or amps). For that you probably need a whole forest of trees.

(forgot the line breaks)

wait a minute: (0, Troll)

Magdalene (263144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449682)

You missed: does this mean all those tree hugging hippies were right?!?

but seriously, if it does pan out, rapidly disappearing big old growth forest regions like Siberia, BC, upper Canada and south America and Africa would have yet another power authority after them to plug in and another hassle to the eco environment that is already precariously endangered if it does. I don't think big dollar old (billion year under ground type) forest decimation oil companies will treat a new resource with any more respect than they do the one they are already draining.

Enviroment friendly? (1)

Life700MB (930032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449690)


Maybe it hurts the trees... I don't think the current is so important but the fact of the continous electron's movemente around the tree.


--
Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, ssh, $7.95

The lemon battery experiment (5, Insightful)

retro128 (318602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449699)

It doesn't sound too different from the old lemon battery experiment [ca.gov] . Sure, he might be able to generate voltage, but the question is...Where are the AMPS? If he has 12V at .005 milliamps, this tree electricity won't be useful to anyone. I hope not too many investors are buying this guy's line...

Tapping Investors (2, Funny)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449710)

MagCap is looking to boost the current power from just under 2 volts to a more useful 12 volts with investor funding ."

What's being tapped here are reckless investors. Personally I'm sticking with cold fusion.

I Smell SCAM!!!! (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449711)

The more I think about it, the more it smells like a scam: Yet another "New Source of Energy" fraud to capture investors.Anyone with a slight clue about chemistry or physics immediately sees that this is just a classic voltaic cell, using the tree and dirt as the electrolyte.

Thus I wonder if this might be a deliberate scam to bilk some investors. At least they weren't claiming a perpetual motion machine.

series-connecting (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449722)

Well, he could plant six of the trees in pods pods and align them in a straight row.

Boffins even have a fancy name for this, the call it "series-connecting".

However, what said boffins never understood is that you will have also have to align at 90 to an "earth power ray", otherwise the flow of juice will be too small to be useful.

Also, you will have to make sure they are far enough apart so they don't short out each other when they grow.

I bet this guy company spent a couple of thousand man hours figuring this out experimentally, so they will beat the upstart competition with the giant pumpkins to the market.

Just imagine the millions that will flow in licensing fees if the government starts to put groups of six trees along the strets in the suburbs so you can jumpstart your car on cold winter mornings.

So make sure to sell your property unless it lies on a street that is oriented at 90 to the "earth power rays".

No such thing a a free lunch (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449723)

Okay... they're using an aluminum roofing nail, and a copper water pipe.

I think there's quite a lot of prior art here, but while we're looking at such stupid ideas let's consider my forthcoming patent for a similar idea using similar electrodes and McDonalds Cheeseburgers. Or potatoes. Let's use copper and aluminum or zinc electrodes and potatoes! They're a renewable resource!

These stupid bastards haven't realised that they're simply getting back the energy that went into refining the metals used for the electrodes. Or perhaps they have, but hope that their investors won't.

Galvanic cell? (1)

SchrodingersRoot (943800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449727)

Is it just me, or does this sound like it *is* a battery, of particularly primitive variety? I mean, the exact setup is unclear, but....
Copper, another metal (I know aluminum can be used in NiMH batteries), and a possible electrolyte bridge (the tree)?
Sounds like a primitive galvanic cell, to me.

If they pick weeping willows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14449731)

... then the news will have to be posted under software.slashdot.org

Brilliant! (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449735)

No, not because it's actually going to work. It's obviously just a crappy battery, and taking energy from the metals. It's brilliant because it's not crazy enough to sound completely ridiculous, it has a grain of truth in it, involves everyday simple things so it sounds plausible enough to the typical member of the public with no science background, and it has a "feel good" message. Who doesn't want to believe we can generate power from something as common as a tree?

We should all be so smart to be able to dupe the public into giving us funding for "more research". If only I had less scrupples I'd try something like this myself. Swine morality.. bested me again.

Magic the gathering (1)

Lordpidey (942444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449751)

Darnit, if they keep tapping the trees for electricity, where am I going to get green mana?

"Brown-out" will have a new meaning (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449752)

in the Netherlands when the trees start turning brown because all their photovoltaic energy is being syphoned off to run computers.

When they kill all the trees what will be their next target? Weeds?

Easy! (1)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14449755)

All they've got to do is use a transformer to step the power up!

Even I knew that.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...