While some researchers wrack their brain over how to make solar energy more affordable, or to extract energy from a ruthless ocean, four students from the American University of Sharjah are testing a more benign kind of renewable energy. They have developed a device that can convert otherwise wasted mechanical energy, acoustic noise, and ultrasonic waves into electricity by using piezoelectric technology. Although this application could not be used to create massive power plants, their device has an extraordinary range of potential applications, including tapping ultrasonic waves produced at large aquariums.
According to the folks at Ed Arabia, the students are using piezoelectric technology to convert noise and movement into a clean, harmless and renewable energy source:
Piezoelectric technology is a specific kind of material that generates voltage upon the application of pressure from movement or vibrations. The piezoelectric compound is harnessed by extracting material from natural properties like silicone from sand or using crystal properties mixed with components like titanium to capture vibrations produced from movement.
One member of the fabulous four told the paper that they wanted to focus their attention on something other than geothermal, solar, or wind, which many other engineering students are working on.
Arsalan Mohammad, undergraduate electric engineering student at AUS explained it thus:
It was worth looking into places where a lot of mechanical energy or noise is wasted like footsteps on a pavement or noise in football stadiums.
Which is exactly what they did. Some of their envisioned applications include installing devices in speed bumps in order to record the mechanical energy and noise of vehicles bouncing over them. This energy could then be used for street-lighting, which would obviate the need to tap into the grid.
Another more surprising application (for a wordsmith like me) proposed by the group is to use the technology to harvest noise made my animals in an aquarium. Their device can record the ultrasonic noise that is undetectable by the human ear and convert it into clean energy.
They could also install piezoelectric devices in shoes, thereby capturing the energy produced while walking (like Innowattech has proposed a couple of years ago), which in turn could sell small electronic devices. So – if you run low on a charge – all you have to do is go for a quick run, get your exercise, and voila, your phone will be charged. Excellent!
Mohammad Arsalan, Mohammad Ajmal, Danial Ahmad, and Mohammad Ateeq were recognized for their accomplishment by the esteemed Institute for Engineering and Technology (IET).
:: Ed Arabia
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