What if dancing in your living room could lower your electricity bill?

Researchers from ETH Zürich and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology Dübendorf have developed a device embedded in the floor that produces enough energy to power LED light bulbs and small electronics when someone walks on it.

This device, called a nanogenerator, uses wood and embedded nanocrystals to generate energy. Previously, we talked about Jeremiah Thoronka, who created a piezoelectric device leveraging the same basic principles to provide his neighbourhood with clean energy. However, this is the first proof of concept for indoor domestic usage. Indeed, the challenge here is to use wood, an ideal material for building house flooring but terrible for conducting electricity. 

After testing different types of wood, the researchers found that spruce – a cheap construction wood common in Europe – with a silicone coating generated 80 times more electricity than natural wood. In fact, by stepping upon a prototype with a surface area slightly smaller than an A4 piece of paper, they successfully lit a light bulb.

Why does it matter? In Europe, most new residential buildings must be carbon-negative to reach the EU emission goals. Usually, they leverage solar power to do it. However, this type of energy is less effective under certain climates and does not work at night.

Leveraging motion to power our houses could, therefore, pave the way to greener homes and lesser reliance on external conditions.

(source: cell.com)

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