In the last ten years, the mobile phone community grew from around one billion global subscribers to over 5 billion.
These devices have become our lifelines, and yet, with even the vast numberof cell phones being used, current technology limits the lifespan andrenewability of their power source.
Once a cell phone’s battery won’t hold a full charge any longer — oris simply deemed “too old” or “out of style” by its owner, as a newgeneration of sexy apps and gadgets comes to market — they often end upin either a landfill or at a recycling center.
Cell phones andbatteries are some of the largest contributors of toxic substances inour country’s landfills with hazardous levels of lead, nickel-cadmium,and several other toxic materials…
Yet we improperly dispose of these devices more frequently than ourcars (which have found ways to become more sustainable and renewable).
The quest for an efficient and green charging system for mobilephones has been going on for several years… And today, we’re closerthan ever to using sound bites in the form of our voices to power thedevices.
Back in 2008, Texas A&M and University of Houstonresearched a way to charge small devices by using sound waves; butresearchers had difficulty perfecting the proper material.
Now, researchers at the Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, SouthKorea, have taken the lead in creating the necessary materials thatcould be used to convert energy when it is manufactured at around 21nanometers thick.
One of the main goals for this new innovation is to take use of the everyday sounds in our life — including the user’s own voice — and harvest it for energy.
“Sound power can be used for various novel applications including cellularphones that can be charged during conversations,” Dr. Sang-Woo Kim says.
“[It could be used for] sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles.”
And as Dr. Kim further explains, this would work to reduce the noisepollution surrounding major roadways at the same time by absorbing thesound energy of vehicles.
Dr. Kim’s team has been developing this technology at the instituteof nanotechnology: A pad within the mobile phone absorbs sound waves, causing zinc oxide wires placed between electrodes to compress andrelease. This movement creates an electrical current that create thatcan be used to charge a battery.
Unfortunately, the current design does not properly charge a cell phone. And the technology is not yet cost effective…
But Dr. Kim explains that altering the material the wires are made from will allow them to produce more energy at lower sounds levels.
It looks like we could be charging our cell phones with a long-distance conversation sometime in the near future.
No Need to Plug In… originally appeared in Green Chip Stocks. Green Chip Review is a free 2x-per-week newsletter, is the firstadvisory to focus exclusively on investments in alternative andrenewable energies.