One of the challenges that scientists would face is to how to make new clean energy sources more accessible and budget-friendly to everyone. A teenager has managed to do just that, developing a device that can make clean energy and for a very low price.
The grand prize winner of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, 13-year old Maanasa Mendu, designed low-cost solar leaves that can create clean energy. Mendu also won $25,000 for her outstanding design.
Over the course of the competition, Mendu worked on this design with a mentor. Mendu’s solar leaves cost about $5 to make, so not only did she make clean energy, she also made it incredibly affordable for everyone.
It was on a trip to India that Mendu found the inspiration for her design. She saw that there are a lot of people who do not have access to clean water and electricity.
It led her to create a more affordable solution in order to help the areas that are in need of power. She initially wanted to harness wind energy.
However, with the help of her 3M mentor Margauz Mitera, she went in another direction as to what kind of energy she wanted to harness. Instead, Mendu focused on developing solar leaves that can get vibrational energy.
How Does It Work?
Mendu’s solar leaves will pick up energy from the wind, sunlight, and precipitation with a solar cell and some piezoelectric material, which is the part of the leaf that receives the vibrations. This will then be transformed into energy that is ready to use.
Even after the competition, Mendu wants to make further developments on her prototype as well as go through more tests to make her device available on a commercial scale. In time and after some further developments, Mendu’s device will become one of the new clean energy sources that everyone can have access to.
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons