A new device that harvests energy from raindrops, winds or sunlight has been invented at the Institute for Materials Research and Innovation at the University of Bolton, UK. Elias Siores led a team who created a special polymer with piezoelectric and photosensitive properties.

The piezoelectric polymer he and his team used is called polyvinylidene fluoride over ceramic piezoelectric materials. It generates electricity when perturbed by wind or falling rain. They chose it in their project because rain and wind can get it deformed more than other materials, and wind tunnel tests proved that it can create higher peak voltages.

To make it sensitive to sunlight, the team coated the 20-centimeter long ribbons with flexible PV film, which can generate a maximum of 1 to 2 watts.

The newly invented device could be used to power small gadgets and sensors, because in large sizes the piezoelectric polymer is not as efficient. Siores also wants to turn nylon into piezoelectric nylon by extruding it into fiber form in the presence of a strong electric film. The fibers thus created are to be coated with a conductive electrode material, a photosensitive layer and then another electrode.

The electricity-producing nylon can have applications in power-generating fabrics.

[via newscientist]

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Keith Black
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Keith Black

I think the concept is fabulous – generating electricity from falling rain is a problem needing to be solved. I have 11 solar panels on the south facing roof of my house which generates a fair amount of electricity (even in the UK). However the rest of my roof is gathering moss – i need to cover it with such a polymer that can generate electricity from the mass of the falling rain (not quite hydro-electric power but not far from the idea). It would not be difficult nor costly to connect it into my Solar panels to capture the… Read more »