Turning "Whatever" into Electricity
Tom Lombardo posted on December 29, 2013 | 20148 views

Civil engineer Martin Wickett looked at existing methods of generating electricity and said "Whatever." But that wasn’t a statement of apathy. In fact, he designed a generator with an innovative set of gears that converts random motion into unidirectional rotation. Dubbed the Whatever Input to Torsion Transfer (WITT) transmission, the recently patented device harvests six degrees of movement and transfers the motion to a flywheel that always spins in the same direction. The flywheel drives the turbine of a generator. Watch it in action here:

Video: WITT Energy

WITT Energy has joined with investors, universities, laboratories, and a manufacturer to produce and test the WITT. At the moment they’re focusing on ocean-based applications such as powering sensors on data-gathering buoys, generating electricity for water desalination, and harvesting energy to partially power sea vessels, reducing their fuel consumption. WITT Energy plans to produce the WITT in sizes as small as a ping-pong ball and as large as several meters in diameter.

While its most powerful application may be converting chaotic wave motion into electricity, a small model can be attached to a backpack or clipped onto clothing and used to recharge personal electronic devices. A tennis-ball sized prototype was able to generate up to 4 watts. The US military is exploring various modes of energy harvesting that will allow a soldier’s movement to recharge electronic gear. The WITT could become a welcome addition to that arsenal.

I can imagine the WITT added to electric or hybrid vehicles to harvest the motion of turning, acceleration, deceleration, and bouncing into electricity to charge the battery bank. Of course, this assumes that the device can generate enough electricity to offset the extra load caused by its weight and to justify the added expense. Or, in the case of internal combustion engines, the WITT can be used as an interesting way to jump-start a dead battery. Case in point:

Video: The Ocean Exchange

Something tells me that they’ll have to rock out for a long time to generate enough energy to charge the battery. Good thing they’re young and have their WITTs about them!

Image: WITT Energy

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