FUTUREWATCH: Energy Generating Shoes

Have ever wondered if your shoes could charge up your electrical gadgets while you’re sweating it out by doing your power walk?! Yes, your walking shoes can now serve a dual purpose – protecting your feet as your burn those calories and producing energy at the same time! A power-packed stroll in the park can provide enough energy to charge our MP3 player, laptop or phone for hours on end.

In these power shoes, you are capable of losing around 10W of power as heat each time you complete a single step. Since, laptops and phones require energy between 1-15W, therefore the power produced by our gait would be sufficient to power these indispensable devices. However, harnessing energy through movement has been accomplished through piezoelectric devices which are not that efficient. Therefore, keeping these previous movement-based energy harnessing methods, two mechanical engineers from the University of Wisconsin – Tom Krupenkin and Ashley Taylor – have designed and developed this in-show technology that is energy-efficient and produces around 10W of power in just a single step!

The technique that these two young engineers have used is called ‘electrowetting’ in which an conductive liquid droplet is physically deformed by putting it on an electrode and applying it with an electric current. The electrode is usually coated with a dielectric material as it enables the droplet to wet the surface easily. However, in his mechanism, Krupenkin reverses this process to produce electrical power by using droplets of galinsan (a gallium-based alloy) or mercury. Krupenkin simply explains his technique by taking the analogy of a motor – that if you reverse the functioning of a motor you get an electricity generator.

Krupenkin hopes to promote this technology is developing countries where there is a dearth of electricity. The process of producing 10W per step is still underway, however, Krupenkin has already been given a patent for this idea which he would be using in shoes for generating electricity.

The world is looking for alternative sources of energy as we have realized the perilous effects of burning fossil fuels and being dependent on them for most of our functions. The non-renewable energy reserves will not lost for long and there is an increasing public awareness for discovering alternative eco-friendly renewable energy sources. Producing energy through walking in order to generate enough individually would be a remarkable solution to tackle the the problem on an individual level. Once the footwear is launched, it will surely generate a great response from the general public!

Via: Nature News

Original Article on EcoFriend


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