Eco Factor: Shoes generate renewable energy using piezoelectric materials.
Dr. Ville Kaajakari, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, is developing a technology that will allow users to generate energy with a generator embedded in the sole of a shoe. The technology is based on the use of circuits that convert piezoelectric charge into usable electricity.
The electricity generated by the system can be used to charge batteries or directly power electronics. This technology could benefit, for example, hikers that need emergency location devices or beacons,” said Kaajakari. “For more general use, you can use it to power portable devices without wasteful batteries.”
Kaajakari’s breakthrough uses a low-cost polymer transducer that has metalized surfaces for electrical contact. Unlike conventional ceramic transducers, the polymer-based generator is soft and robust, matching the properties of regular shoe fillings. The transducer can therefore replace the regular heel shock absorber with no loss in user experience.