Kinetic Energy Harvesting Closer to Ideal Thanks to New Zealand Scientists

Med shoe generatorWouldn’t it be great if we can charge any electronic device that we carry as we walk to work, without having to carry fancy solar panels or heavy gadgets with us? For many years now, scientists have been trying to develop the ultimate way to make this possible.

The goal of many has been to harvest high voltage of kinetic energy from our daily movement. A team of scientists from University of Auckland, New Zealand, claim to have discovered how to tap into this precious resource, or at least they got a bit closer to making it happen.

The findings of the research, led by Jiayang Song and Kean Aw, appeared in the latest issue of the International Journal Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics. In their publication, the authors reveal how a small energy harvester made of a thin strip of silicon, can have the functions of a cantilever that responds to body movement. The strip is placed inside a polymer casing, which also contains a conducting metal coil and a strong neodymium magnet.  These three components hold the key to producing high voltage kinetic energy, something that has been troubling research teams ever since the idea originated.

The produced electricity is extracted using a miniature electrical transformer and a capacitor, which essentially act as a microelectronic battery. The transformer captures the energy and sends it to the capacitor, which then sends a positive pulse to the battery as soon as it is full.

With a total weight of just a few grams, the new charger is extremely suitable for being carried around and to provide the needed energy that can give us that-bit-more extra charge for our electronic devices. But besides providing the luxury of always having a fully charged smartphone, the technology would also be particularly useful to powering up medical devices, and especially implants.

Image (c) University of Auckland

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