What if we could generate electricity just by walking? Kohei Hayamizu, a Japanese engineer, has been working on this idea beginning with a technology system he developed in graduate school. The system makes use of piezoelectricity, “a property certain materials have to generate an electric current when they are squeezed or pressed.”

His first experiment took place in Japan’s Shibuya train crossing last month in which he converted one square meter of the ground into an electricity generator. Each time a person walks over the area, electricity is generated. Over 20 days, with 900,000 people passing through Shibuya each day, he was able to generate enough energy to power 1,422 televisions for one hour. Hayamizu thinks that similar systems could be installed on a wide range of scales, from small systems embedded on mobile phones, to huge systems installed on highways that would harness the electricity generated by the movement of cars and big trucks   His hope is to install miniature “heel-strike” generators underneath the stairs that would capture the power generated by a person as they walk down the tower. His ultimate goal is to install them in every rail station, shopping center and even in your shoes! According to Webb, if these generators were to be installed at the Victoria Underground Station in central London, the power generated by the 34,000 people moving around would be able to power approximately 6,500 lightbulbs. The technology also has application beyond the small steps. Plans are afoot to look into installing these devices in the tower itself, to harness energy from the swaying movement of the building!   Another natural fit for this technology would be to have your shoes generate energy as you walk (at least enough to power your own devices – mobile phone, camera, etc). As early as 2000, John Sarich developed a prototype that did just that.

 

 

The shoes have a small generator attached to water-filled soles. Each step puts pressure on the soles, causing the water to spin a small turbine and generate power

 

 

The futuristic shoes currently generate 1.2 watts of electricity, “a level sufficient to run an iPod mobile music player forever, as long as the wearer keeps walking,” “The shoes do not have a power-storage function, but you would be able to charge a mobile phone automatically or talk on it forever as long as you connect the phone to your shoes and just keep walking.

Courtesy: http://www.emilychang.com

 

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