- (Image: InStep NanoPower)
A new exciting discovery here.
Tom Krupenkin and J.Ashley Taylor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered a way to convert and harness the energy you produce while walking to reusable electricity.
Through a novel methodology called "Reverse Electrowetting," the mechanical-to-electrical energy converting technology may soon be able to power mobile devices such as your smartphone or laptop, the researchers contend.
In a research report posted this week on Nature Communication, Krupenkin and Taylor describe how the electricity-harnessing technology should help us not only reduce our dependence on batteries, but also make cell phone batteries more durable, making them last 10 times longer.
"Humans, generally speaking, are very powerful energy-producing machines. While sprinting, a person can produce as much as a kilowatt of power," said Krupenkin, a professor of mechanical engineering at UW-Madison.
"Grabbing even a small fraction of that energy is enough to power a host of mobile electronic devices – everything from laptop computers to cell phones to flashlights," Krupenkin continued in a university news release.
In reverse electrowetting, mechanical energy is converted to electrical energy by using a micro-fluidic device consisting of thousands of liquid micro-droplets interacting with another novel nano-sized structure.
Krupenkin and Taylor have taken the initiative to start commercializing this technology by establishing a company called InStep NanoPower.
InStep NanoPower will produce energy harvesters embedded in footwear that captures the energy generated by humans while walking.
The technology will convert the mechanical energy in up to 20 watts of electrical power, which could be used to power mobile devices. And unlike a traditional battery, the energy harvested will never be charged, due to the constant energy generation produced by walking.
Other applications for the energy harvester include integrating it with a Wi-Fi hot spot in order to act as a "middleman" and dramatically reduce the energy usage of mobile devices that are continuously communicating with the wireless networks.
Krupenkin and Taylor argue that this technology could extend not only to smartphones and laptops, but to radios, GPS units, night-vision goggles, flashlights, and other devices normally used in places where power supplies are not available.