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Directory:Humdinger Windbelt

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Shawn Frayne demonstrates his Windbelt.Image source: Popular Science
Shawn Frayne demonstrates his Windbelt.
Image source: Popular Science

The Windbelt utilizes the aeroelastic effect seen when a ribbon, stretched between two fasteners, vibrates in the wind. It is the first turbine-less design, and is targeted for capturing wind energy on the sub-100-Watt scale. Rotation-based wind turbines don’t scale down well due to friction and the lower energy of lower wind speeds.

Invented by Shawn Frayne, the Windbelt is a taut membrane fitted with a pair of magnets that oscillate between coils. Designed for low wind speeds and budgets, the device is 10x to 30x times more efficient than the best microturbines, and its cost is proportionately small. Frayne envisions Windbelts being made available for $2 - $5.00, able to provide electricity for small lights and radios in the third world.

The technology is still in its infant stages and will need quite a bit more R&D before it is ready for commercial roll-out.


Official Website


Much of the preliminary information on this page was derived from a phone conversation Allan had with Frayne on Oct. 12, 2007.

Latest Developments

April 27, 2008

"Developer kits containing a prototype of the Windbelt(TM) generator may be available late summer 2008."

Oct. 10, 2007

Announced as one of ten winners of Popular Mechanics 2007 Breakthrough Awards.


Windbelt Cheap Generator Alternative (55 Minutes) Shawn Frayne, a 28 year old inventor based in Mountain View, will talk about his wind belt. This is a power generation device, that is low cost and consists of a membrane that resonates like a guitar string, with a pair of magnets that oscillate between coils. (You Tube Dec. 14, 2007)

How it Works

A Mylar-coated Taffeta (ribbon) is stretched taut, and a button magnet is placed on the ends, near where the ribbon is fastened. As the ribbon oscillates in the wind, the magnets move in and out of coils, generating electricity, which is then run through a power conditioning unit.

The aeroelastic effect is not a periodic resonant effect with a tight window of operation. The range of operation is much wider, though it does have some resonance. For example, a larger-scale application would be benefited by a dynamic tensioning -- tightening or loosening of the ribbon to be able to optimize the wind harvesting.

Frayne said that as presently designed, the Windbelt begins vibrating at around 4-5 mph. Then, at around 14-15 mph, it still vibrates, but there is introduced what he described as a hiccough. Power is still generated, but it is not proportional to the increased wind speed. Instead, the output holds fairly constant above certain wind speeds.

In order to protect the device from destruction at higher wind speeds, Frayne is considering things such as turning the device out of the wind, or bending it over, like a blade of grass in the wind. He said that the present design would probably not endure winds much above 50 mph.

The electricity generated by the magnets passing through the coils is alternating current. Frayne uses some very simple and inexpensive components -- "things you could pull out of an old radio" -- to condition the power from low AC to a boosted DC in the range of 4-5 volts. It is intended as a trickle charger for a battery set which, in turn, can be used to power small appliances that run on DC.

Frayne intends to post plans on his site in around December, to allow group development of the concept.


Unit costs as well as energy costs, e.g. cents/kw-h, including factors such as installation, maintenance, decommissioning; relative to other renewable technologies as well as relative to conventional energy products.


  • low cost
  • low wind speed
  • efficiency

Independent Testing

See Windbelts around the world page on the Humdinger site.


Patent protection has been filed. However, patents are essentially irrelevant in developing nations, which is the primary area of application Frayne is targeting. His objective is to use the revenues from licensing in the developed world to finance roll-out in the developing world.


Company: Humdinger Wind Energy, LLC

Humdinger Wind Energy, LLC was established in Honolulu, HI and has its principal research and development center in Mountain View, CA. An additional development center is due to open in Hong Kong in mid-2008.

Inventor: Shawn Frayne

Shawn Frayne, born in 1980, and based in Mountain View, Calif., was motivated to come up with this low-cost, low-wind-speed solution to provide electricity for small lights and appliances in the third world.

quoting from

Shawn is the inventor of the core wind generator technology on which Humdinger is founded. Previous to his involvement with Humdinger, Shawn successfully matured two technologies, in the fields of "green" packaging and water disinfection, from concepts into developed products in pre-production. He established a strong intellectual property base surrounding those technologies and in early 2006 sold substantial rights to a Fortune 500 company. He is presently involved with refining the manufacturing processes of those products in facilities that have been built overseas.

He is also part of an on-going effort established four years ago at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop low-cost technologies by which entrepreneurs in Haiti can transform agricultural wastes into saleable cooking fuel.

Shawn has six pending U.S. patents. He has his Bachelor of Science in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



In the News

  • Wind > Humdinger Windbelt >
    Windbelt: Innovative Generator to Bring Cheap Wind Power to Third World - The Windbelt uses the oscillation of a thin strip of material held in tension with a spring to vibrate a magnet that generates electrical power. A 1-meter long frame, called the Windcell, can provide 3 to 5 watts. Arranged into panels a 1 meter square Windcell panel is anticipated to be able to produce up to 100 watts, and have a panel cost of around $1 per watt. (Inhabitat; March 8, 2010)
  • Humdinger's Wind Power Alternative - The Windbelt, a miniaturized wind-harvesting power generator that has absolutely nothing in common with the traditional, towering wind turbines that dot the fields and shorelines of developed countries. The simple device was awarded $10,000 in late September as a finalist for the Curry Stone Design Award, a charitable prize that aims to boost design and innovation projects for developing countries. (BusinessWeek; Oct. 6, 2008)


See Discussion page


Humdinger Wind Energy, LLC
4959-3 Maunalani Circle
Honolulu, HI 96816

Technical inquiries should be directed to:
Shawn Frayne
650.279.0109 (mobile)
shawn.frayne (skype)

All other inquiries should be directed to:
Jerry Chun
808.386.0588 (mobile)

See also




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