In June, as national soccer teams from around the world resume playing qualification games for the 2014 World Cup, a group of 20-somethings will kick off a soccer-related project with a global purpose that goes beyond athletic competition.
They will start full-scale manufacture of soccer-style balls that generate and store electric power when kicked around.
After playtime with these “Soccket” balls, families and communities that lack reliable access to electricity can use the balls’ power for lighting and – eventually – other electrical applications.
Rice University mechanical engineering students have built a prototype shoe fitting that generates enough energy to power portable electronics and recharge batteries.
The fitting, called PediPower, diverts the energy of heel strikes while walking, which would otherwise be lost into the ground, through a small gear system and generator. In bench tests, it delivered an average 400 milliwatts, enough to charge a battery or operate a cell phone. Their creation joins another body-powered generator developed by U.S. and Canadian scientists—a knee brace that can recharge up to 10 cell phones at once.
The Rice seniors hope their innovation will be improved upon by the next group taking it up to boost power output and decrease size. The goal is for the device to reliably produce enough energy to power artificial heart valves.
HT to Laughing Squid for spotting this one.