With energy resources depleting at a rate not many would have imagined a few years back and threats of global warming looming large, researchers and scientists all over the world are trying to figure out ways by which renewable energy could be generated. Whenever we talk about renewable energy, solar and wind energy strike our mind first. However, science is all about finding new ways to do things and there are a lot of scientists who believe that there is much more in renewable energy harvesting techniques than just installing a few solar panels or a wind turbine. We all know that energy cannot be created but it can be transferred from one form to another and scientists working on this principle have been able to devise products and technologies that convert different forms of available energy into usable electricity. Here is a list of five such products that can help generate a few watts of renewable electric power while you’re simply walking.
Researchers say that in a given day a busy street can receive about 50,000 steps a day, while a single step doesn’t mean a lot to renewable energy generation, thousands could really make a difference. Here is where Pavegen Systems kicks in. The company has developed a unique pavement module that harvests all kinetic energy you spend out in every footstep and converts that into usable electricity. The pavement according to the company can produce about 2.1w of electrical power each hour, which could be enough to light a few LED bulbs on the street.
While Pavegen Systems is working on a project whereby a special kind of pavement can be placed on busy streets to generate renewable energy, technology developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering researchers can enable you to generate a few watts of renewable energy no matter wherever you walk. The technology is all about embedded a special renewable energy harvester inside shoes that can not only convert kinetic energy into electricity, but can also store it in some kind of batteries for future use. InStep NanoPower is currently working to commercialize the technology, which could enable you to power your cellphone or even a WiFi hotspot with clean power.
Researchers at the University of Michigan believe that knee joints are one of the best places in the human body that can be used to generate electricity. The team here has conceptualized a biomechanical energy harvester that is mounted around the knee of the wearer to produce electricity. The system works similar to regenerative braking systems that are used in hybrid and electric cars and harvests the energy lost when the wearer “brakes” the knee after swinging the leg forward to take a step. The amount of energy generated depends on how much the wearer walks, but we think that you could be able to generate enough power to recharge a cellphone.
Unlike InStep NanoPower’s power generating shoe tech, which is based on the use of sophisticated electronics, Japan-based NTT developed strange-looking sneakers that could too generate renewable electricity with every step you take. The shoes, which are based on the principle of hydroelectricity, are filled with water. Every step you take puts pressure on the liquid-filled sole which is turn triggers a small power generating turbine, creating up to 1.2 watts of electricity during your routine stroll in the garden.
Working on the same lines as the University of Michigan team we talked about earlier in this article is a research team from UK’s Cranfield University, University of Liverpool and University if Salford. The British team here has developed a knee-mountable system that includes a small ring that turns a quarter of a turn with every bent of the knee. This rotation further triggers a set of arms causing vibration, which is harvested and converted into electricity.