Ran out of phone battery? Soon you can charge your gadgets simply by plugging them to your shoe. A group of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has come up with an eco-friendly option for the tech-friendly generation.
Researchers at the mechanical engineering department, W-M University, have designed a tech-friendly footwear, Instep Nanopower, that can generate power by harvesting kinetic energy produced simply by walking. This energy can be used for charging phones, flashlights, tablets and even laptops. It can also be saved for later use. This means, in the distant future, there is no need to carry a charger or borrow someone else’s.
The team behind the invention, headed by Tom Krupenkin, professor of mechanical engineering and J. Ashley Taylor, a senior scientist, is now looking for commercial partners to promote the power-gear.
These shoes can also be specially designed for soldiers and trekkers who have to carry huge batteries to charge their survival gadgets which include, radios, GPS units and night vision glasses. Further research in this territory can also create an energy source, similar to solar power.
The shoe uses ‘bubbler’ technology to create energy. It has two plates separated by a layer of conductive liquid. The lower plate has holes in it which lets pressurized gas enter and form bubbles. These bubbles grow bigger and burst on the top plate. The repetitive movement of the bubbles sends the conductive layer back and forth creating energy.
At the moment these shoes have the capacity to produce 10 watts power per square metre. However, scientists claim the technology has the potential to create up to 10 KW of power.
“Human walking carries a lot of energy. Theoretical estimates show that it can produce up to 10 watts per shoe and that energy is just wasted as heat. A total of 20 watts from walking is not a small thing, especially compared to the power requirements of the majority of modern mobile devices,” said Tom Krupenkin, professor of mechanical engineering. Whereas, only 2 watts of power is needed for charging a smartphone.
“We have been developing new methods of directly converting mechanical motion into electrical energy that are appropriate for this type of application,” Krupenkin noted in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.