Imagine your body as a human battery. When you walk or run — or do something even slower, like type — you create energy which keeps your smartphone, smartwatch, medical sensor, or other low-power device going. The faster you move, the more electricity you generate. Sound far-fetched? It may be closer than you think.
Such an innovation — which scientists predict could become reality within three years — comes from a device known as a triboelectric nanogenerator, or TENG, which is capable of capturing kinetic energy from human movements, as well as from other non-human energy sources, such as wind, wave, and machine vibrations. A TENG relies on the contact between two or more materials to produce electricity.
“We all have experienced that a balloon rubbed on our hair can [stick] to a wall or attract small pieces of papers,” said Ishara Dharmasena, a doctoral student at the University of Surrey, and lead scientist on the project. “Our clothing tends to stick to our skin on a dry day. We all have experienced lightening. All these are due to the triboelectric effect, or static charging. TENGs use the triboelectric effect to transform the movements…into electricity.”
View all SMART GRID Bulletins click here