MIT scientists found a new way to generate energy through a simple method that could power a number of applications. Harnessing energy from motion has been a goal for scientists for a long while.
In theory, while generating energy from motion provides small amounts of energy, these small amounts are generated continuously. Thus, applications which aren’t energy intensive could be powered unlimitedly by motion-generated energy.
While several other scientific approaches are out there, MIT scientists found a new way to generate energy based on electrochemical principles. The energy could be harnessed from several types of motion, including our body’s own repeated movements such as walking or running or working out.
The findings of the MIT team led by Professor Ju Li are published in the Nature Communications journal. In the paper, Professor Ju Li and graduate students Soon Ju Choi and Sangtae Kim as well as others have described the newly found method to harness energy from motion.
More precisely, the motion referred to is bending. Metal and polymer sheets have made energy generation possible. The principles behind the new method are electrochemical. Some of the layers used by the MIT team are made of lithium alloys. These sheets act as electrodes. Other sheets are formed by a porous polymer acting as a liquid electrolyte. When the whole is bent, lithium ions are forced instantly through the porous polymer. Thus, electric current is produced simply by bending the layers even a bit.
Working much like a battery, the system created by the MIT team produces alternating current. This system could be 100 percent efficient according to Professor Ju Li, as it is not subject to the second law of thermodynamics. However, initial tests have proved the power-generating system to be only 15 percent efficient for now. Professor Li is convinced that the percentage will increase.
Harnessing energy from motion could bring about perpetual energy generators for applications which are not necessarily energy-intensive. For instance, besides being used as a power source, the MIT system could also take the form of a stress sensor on a bridge. Moreover, it could become our own portable energy source powered by our own motion.
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