Scientists report they have been able to generate electricity from specially layered wood when it is walked on, and they are now working on how to scale up the project which so far has been able to power only items like calculators that require a minimal amount of energy.
The work by scientists in Switzerland was documented in the journal Matter, and reported by Courthouse News.
They call their project a nanogenerator and say it is created by taking layers of wood, spruce seems to work well, and applying nanocrystals to one piece and polydimethylsiloxane silicone to another.
Then they are layered with a network of electrodes.
The result was a prototype that is “capable of generating 80 times more electricity than normal wood,” the report explained.
The scientists at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich and Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology Dübendorf, say the process is called the triboelectric effect.
“Our focus was to demonstrate the possibility of modifying wood with relatively environmentally friendly procedures to make it triboelectric,” explained Guido Panzarasa, a group leader on the project. “Spruce is cheap and available and has favorable mechanical properties. The functionalization approach is quite simple, and it can be scalable on an industrial level. It’s only a matter of engineering.”
The scientists are recommending its use in smart home construction in an effort to contain carbon dioxide emissions and promote ecofriendly options.
“Even though we initially focused on basic research, eventually, the research that we do should lead to applications in the real world,” Panzarasa said. “The ultimate goal is to understand the potentialities of wood beyond those already known and to enable wood with new properties for future sustainable smart buildings.”
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