You can now add an eco-friendly element to flooring of your homes with an amazing floor that converts your footsteps into electricity. It was accomplished by a team of material engineers working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who developed a simple method to turn footsteps into electricity. The project was led by an associate professor of materials science, Xudong Wang and an engineering graduate, Chunhua Yao.
The basic raw material used in this method is wood pulp that is already a basic part of floor. A part of this floor is also formed by cellulose nanofibers, basically very minute fibers these are capable of generating electricity. These fibers are treated chemically and generate charge when these touch untreated nanofibers. These nanofibers are embedded in the flooring and are capable of generating enough electricity to light up rooms and charge batteries. Since, wood pulp is a cheap source of flooring, this kind of flooring can be incorporated in more and more homes as a conventional substance.
Though there are so many similar materials that can be used for deriving power, most of those are very costly, impractical, and completely non-recyclable on a bigger scale. Wang’s research centers have been using vibration for generating power. For a long time, he has tested various materials to maximize the benefits of a new technology called Triboelectric Nanogenerator (TENG). Triboelectricity is a similar process that generates static electricity via fabrics. Chemically treated cellulose nanofibers are very simple, effective, and low-cost option for power harnessing from the already present mechanical sources.
The team working at UW-Madison achievement in this field is known as “roadside energy harvesting”, this can be a substantial substitute for solar power and one wouldn’t have to depend on fair weather for energy. Wang says, “Roadside energy harvesting requires thinking about the places where there is abundant energy we could be harvesting. We’ve been working a lot on harvesting energy from human activities. One way is to build something to put on people, and another way is to build something that has constant access to people. The ground is the most-used place.”
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