January 5th, 2017
By Carolanne Wright
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
If engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have anything to say about sustainable energy, we may soon be generating electricity by the simple task of walking. The ultimate in green design, the team has developed a unique flooring which harnesses footstep energy, while also using a completely renewable and economical material.
But flooring isn’t the only option for producing electricity with human movement. Another group of mechanical engineers at the university have also developed innovative, foot-powered technology — only this time, using shoes.
Generating Clean Energy with Human Footsteps
Lead researcher of the project, Xudong Wang, believes his special flooring could revolutionize how we approach energy. Using a common waste material — wood pulp, which is partly made of cellulose nanofibers — the flooring takes advantage of the electrical charge that’s created when chemically treated fibers come in contact with untreated fibers. When these nanofibers are embedded within flooring, they product energy that can be used to power lighting or charge batteries. And because wood pulp is inexpensive, abundant and renewable — not to mention a waste product of industry — the flooring is a very affordable option to generate clean energy.