MagCap Engineering, a company based in Canton, Ohio, is working on extracting energy from trees. No, not the old fashiond way of sucking the black stuff out of trees long dead, but by converting the natural energy in living trees to usable, direct-current energy.
Inventor Gordon W. Wadle says "As unbelievable as it sounds, we've been able to demonstrate the feasibility of generating electricity in this manner. While the development is in its infancy, it has the potential to provide an unlimited supply of constant, clean energy without relying on fossil fuels, a power generating plant complex or an elaborate transmission network."
MagCap are now on the lookout for 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.
If this research proves fruitful, we may see a future where there's a tree planted next to each parking space, with a hole to plug in your electric car. Other applications would be to provide power for signs, security lights, street, park and hiking trail lights, surveillance or sensor equipment, and the concept of decorating Christmas Trees could take a whole new turn...
Wadle pointed out that there seems to be no limit to the amount of power that can be drawn from an individual tree, no matter how many "taps" are inserted -- each produces the same amount of energy, an average of 0.7 - 0.8 volts. Size of the tree also seems not to matter. Interestingly, while conventional wisdom would seem to indicate that the tree draws much of its energy from photosynthesis via its leaves, the voltage output actually increases to 1.2-1.3 volts in the winter after the leaves have fallen.