What’s next: Piezoelectric devices to harvest human and machine motion for clean energy

Piezoelectric devices

As we know it

Piezoelectric materials can produce electrical energy by transforming ambient vibrations. This happens because such materials develop electric voltage whenever any mechanical stress is applied on their surface. Researchers have shown that this property of piezoelectric materials could be applied for harvesting large amount of energy that is otherwise wasted during human and machine movements. Also, the energy so produced could be then used for powering many small electronic gadgets that are increasingly becoming a part of everyday life.

Need for change

Electronic gadgets have become inalienable part of present life. They consume large amount of electricity for their operation as they need to be recharged regularly. This not only increases the electricity bill of households but also puts a burden on the environment as conventional electricity is produced at greenhouse gas-emitting power plants. However, new methods of harvesting human and machine motion for clean energy could reduce this burden and prove beneficial for your health, environment and business.

What’s next?





1 Piezoelectric railways generator

Piezoelectric Railways Genarator

What’s new?

The new technology can harvest electricity by installing piezoelectric pads on the railway tracks. It has been shown that about 120kwh of electricity could be produced from a railway track with the traffic of 10-20 ten-car trains everyday with this method. The electricity so produced could be used for powering many railway systems like signs and lights or stored in a power grid. This method was first unveiled by Israeli company Innowattech. For this, the company has developed new piezoelectric IPEG PADS for replacing standard railways pads. The new pads can also determine the size of wheel, speed and weight of the vehicle passing over them.

What difference it will make?





The new technology would provide railway companies a green method of powering many of their electronic systems. The energy so produced would be cheaper and this will also reduce some of the financial burdens of the railway companies and may in turn benefit passengers in the long run.

Problems

It would require a lot of resources and legislative will for replacing entire railway tracks with prizoelectric pads. The method is still in process of development and not completely adopted by any country. However, it needs to be seen as a future technology for now.

2 Shoe energy device

Shoe Energy Device

What’s new?

This technology can generate energy from your movement. Developed by Dr. Ville Kaajakari of Louisiana Tech University, it is in the form of a small piezoelectric chip that can be embedded into the sole of your shoes to produce energy from compressions received during walking. This energy can be further used for powering electronic devices. Dr. Kaajakari has used a new voltage regulation circuit which converts small piezoelectric charges into usable voltage.

What difference it will make?





At a time when most of the people chose to stay inside their homes or move on a vehicle, the shoe energy device could make walking a popular activity once again. It will produce cheap and clean energy for powering many small electronic devices.

Problems

The new technology is still in the process of development. As per the claims, it can produce a very small amount of energy. Whether it can create enough energy for powering many common gadgets that require high voltages is still unknown.

3 Piezoelectric devices generate energy from vehicle air

Piezoelectric devices generate energy from vehicle air

What’s new?

Proposed by researchers at the City College of New York, this technology can generate electricity from the kinetic energy of vehicles with the help of small piezoelectric devices. For this, the devices need to be placed either on the roof or tail of a vehicle. They would produce an output voltage because of vibrations caused by the movement of the vehicles.

What difference it will make?

Most of the energy produced during the operation of a vehicle is wasted in the absence of a mechanism to trap them back. The new method would, however, allow for scavenging a lot of wasted energy from environment. It will also save some of the fuels and reduce some burden on your wallet and environment up to some extent.

Problems

The total energy produced by this method would not be sufficient for running a vehicle. Thus, the dependence on conventional fuels will continue. However, it would produce enough energy for powering small systems like control panels and other portable electronic devices inside the vehicle.

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