Piezoelectric energy

Over the past century, humans have become increasingly dependent on technology, particularly electronic devices. During the past decade, electronic devices have become more mobile, enabling people to use medical, communication, and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices as they move around cities or in the wilderness. At present, all of these devices are powered by batteries, which have a limited energy storage capacity and add considerable weight. Although substantial progress has been made in reducing the power requirements of devices and increasing the power densities of batteries, there has not been a breakthrough in the parallel development of a portable and renewable humandriven energy source. The combination of limited energy and the large weight of batteries pose the most critical problem for individuals having high electricity demands in remote areas and who are already carrying heavy loads. To help solve this problem, we developed a passive device, the suspended-load backpack, which extracts mechanical energy from the vertical movement of the load during walking and converts it to electricity for powering portable devices.

Harvesting Energy from Human Movement
Piezoelectricity is electrical energy produced from mechanical pressure (including motions such as walking). When pressure is applied to an object, a negative charge is produced on the expanded side and a positive charge on the compressed side. Once the pressure is relieved, electrical current flows across the material. Let's look at how the principle works in a motion such as walking. A single footstep causes pressure when the foot hits the floor. When the flooring is engineered with piezoelectric technology, the electrical charge produced by that pressure is captured by floor sensors, converted to an electrical charge by piezoelectric materials (usually in the form of crystals or ceramics), then stored and used as a power source. In 2007, two MIT graduate students proposed the idea of installing piezoelectric flooring in urban areas. Dubbed "Crowd Farming," the idea was to install a flooring system that would take advantage of piezoelectric principles by harvesting power from footsteps in crowded places such as train stations, malls, concerts and anywhere where large groups of people move. The key is the crowd: One footstep can only provide enough electrical current to light two 60-watt bulbs for one second, but the greater the number of people walking across the piezoelectric floor, the greater amounts of power produced. It's not beyond the realm of possibility -- approximately 28,500 footsteps generate energy to power a train for one second [source: Christian Science Monitor]. Imagine what the combined power of commuters' footsteps during rush hour could do. Recently piezoelectric floors have debuted in a handful of innovative dance clubs around the world. These floors represent prototypes of the "Crowd Farm" concept: The movement of a large group of clubbers dancing on energy-capturing floors is collected and used to power LED lights and, in the long-term plan, feed energy into the club's power grid.
The principles of piezoelectricity have been understood since the 19th century but the application in energy-generating floors hasn't yet proven to be a substantial power source.

an ongoing experiment to make train stations more energy-efficient. a "smart home" student housing experiment at Duke University ditched the idea of installing a piezoelectric floor when the high installation costs and nominal amount of power produced got in the way. and was meant to test improvements made in power generation performance and capacity. Power-generating Floors Tested in Japan In early 2008. The 2008 experiment followed one conducted in 2006. Electricity generated from the floor is used to power facilities such as lighting or automatic ticket gates in the station. as well as advancements in material durability. . and on a night where the dance floor is packed with moving bodies. In the clubs. the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) installed piezoelectric pads in the flooring at the ticket gates at a station in Tokyo. initial estimates suggest an individual club goer could generate roughly 5 to 10 watts. the energy from the floor could supply about 60 percent of the club's total energy needs.In trials outside of the clubs.

. with the midpoint labeled as 0 cm. In these records.Position. “Position” refers to the position of the load with respect to the backpack frame.6 km hour–1. the person is walking with a 38-kg load at 5. generator voltage. and electrical power output during walking.

. This graph shows average values of four separate trials for each of 12 conditions for one person. The standard deviation bars are shown but are often smaller than the symbol.The electrical power output and mechanical power input of the generator as a function of walking speed and load.

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