Energy-Harvesting Shoes With Reverse Electrowetting

Power your phone or iPad with the power of walking! Engineering researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have described a new energy-harvesting technology that could be embedded in your shoes.

"Humans, generally speaking, are very powerful energy-producing machines," explains Krupenkin, a UW-Madison professor of mechanical engineering. "While sprinting, a person can produce as much as a kilowatt of power."


(Schematics of three major droplet actuation mechanisms)
These include (a) droplets between oscillating plates,
(b) droplets between sliding plates, and
(c) droplets in a microchannel.
(d) Shows in greater detail schematics of reverse-electrowetting-based
energy generation process in a microchannel geometry.

...we have developed a radically new mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion method that is based on reverse electrowetting—a novel microfluidic phenomenon4. Energy generation is achieved through the interaction of arrays of moving microscopic liquid droplets with a novel multilayer thin film.

We believe that this approach has a number of significant advantages, over existing mechanical-energy-harvesting technologies, including very high power densities, up to 103 W m−2, ability to directly utilize a very broad range of mechanical forces and displacements, including those not accessible by traditional piezoelectric or electromagnetic methods, and ability to output a broad range of currents and voltages, from several volts to tens of volts without the need for up or down voltage conversion.

In his classic 1965 novel Dune, sf great Frank Herbert writes about water-reclamation suits that are powered by the motions of the body, including walking:

...Paul sat on the edge of his bed and began stripping off his desert boots. They smelled rancid from the lubricant which eased the action of the heel-powered pumps that drove his stillsuit...
(Read more about Herbert's stillsuit)

From Reverse electrowetting as a new approach to high-power energy harvesting via University of Wisconsin.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/25/2011)

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