Researchers have built an electricity generator that can harvest energy from the most gentle movements. They say their device can produce a steady current to power consumer electronics using a gentle breeze, flowing water from a tap or normal body movement.
The Georgia Tech and Chinese Academy of Sciences team, led by materials science and engineering professor Zhong Lin Wang, report the generator creates electricity by harvesting static from a rotating disc that rubs against another stationary one. This static electricity generation, a phenomenon called the triboelectric effect, is the same that causes people who have shuffled their shoes across a carpet to get a shock when they touch something else.
Their work is reported in the journal Nature Communications today. In it, Wang’s team demonstrates the hand-sized triboelectric generator (TEG) recharging a smartphone and powering LEDs, a digital alarm clock and a wireless transmitter. They say the four-inch-diameter device is already sufficiently low-cost and energy-dense to operate electronics and could be ratcheted up to large-scale power generation.
Click through for more images and to see how much power the device puts out.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists announced they have made a significant step towards achieving ignition, a process needed to make fusion energy viable. For the first time ever, researchers say they have gotten more energy out of fusion fuel than what they poured into it to start a reaction.
Scientists have known for decades that muddy coastal sediments absorb the power of waves as they roll toward beaches. The result is a free service courtesy of soft ocean bottoms that diminishes the sea’s energy before it reaches the communities living beyond them.
Now an engineering team is working to expand the muddy seafloor’s portfolio of services to include power generation. They are building a “carpet” system meant to be installed underwater on coastlines that would harvest power from waves.
"Mud basically moves up and down under the action of the waves and small-scale motions called turbulence occurs within the mud layer and that converts the wave energy into heat," says Reza Alam, a University of California, Berkeley assistant mechanical engineering professor who is leading the effort. "Our idea was to design a carpet that sits on the seafloor and acts like a mud layer to extract energy from ocean waves and convert it into useful energy."
See a video of the project below.