Buddhist prayer wheels can be found outside the gates of monasteries in a number of Asian nations, most famously in Tibet. If you think about it, countless people spinning countless prayer wheels for over 1,500 years would have generated an incredible amount of electrical energy had the prayer wheels been crafted to produce and capture it.
Designer Taikkun Li thought about the possibilities and is moving to put those thoughts into action with his Prayer Wheel Energy Generator.
What's a "prayer wheel", anyway?, you may ask. Typically inscribed with the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum in Sanskrit, it is said that spinning the wheel has the same meaning as reciting the mantra - though it's best to recite the mantra and focus one's mind before spinning the prayer wheel.
At some Tibetan monasteries, a single person can walk down a long row of cylindrical wheels, putting each wheel into motion as they proceed.
Not only locals but tourists spin prayer wheels along their travel and tour routes. Says Li, "Now that positive energy can be harvested along Tibetan streets, turned into electricity, and used to provide evening lighting along those streets and inside the adjacent homes."
As well, Taikkun Li's generators can be made cheaply from used bicycle and fan parts, plus the lighting Li envisions comes from long-lasting, energy efficient LEDs.
It all seems so obvious, and practical as well: Tibetan households are not chock full of energy-hungry appliances and a small boost of free power would make a huge difference in people's lives. (via Core77 and GFRY09)