Recharge Your Batteries While You Walk

At the Center for Research in Advanced Materials (CIMAV), scientists found a way to “capture” the energy that people produce from walking. They designed a pill-shaped cylinder that they adapted to fit a shoe to store the mechanical-vibrational energy a person generates when walking.


With this captured energy the scientists were able to recharge AAA batteries. The prototype designed by CIMAV in Chihuahua, located in northern Mexico, adapted the “pill” which has a diameter of two inches and a thickness of three millimeters to the sole of a shoe.


Head of research and specialist in materials science, Abel Macias Hurtado, said that the “pill” is a device called piezoelectric, measures pressure, force and acceleration. The mechanical energy is converted into microwatts through a circuit and received good results when connected to the batteries and tested.


Piezoelectric is a term that is derived from pressure and electricity. When walking, mechanical force is generated which is captured, or harvested, to generate the energy that is stored in the pill for future use.


Hurtado stated that in the area of nanostructured materials, an important base of the research is to harvest or produce clean energy, and this prototype is ideal for that purpose.


“We want to improve the circuit of the tablet to make it more efficient at capturing energy. Now we are working in making it more efficient, currently we already have clean energy,” says the researcher at CIMAV.


With the same thought in mind, Hurtado Macias has proposed creating a similar system in a mat that could be placed at the entrance to a mass transport system, like a subway, to generate enough energy to illuminate the whole station.


“Today, the energy generated by people walking is wasted, if we learn to harvest it and turn it into electricity, we can contribute to the global need for clean energy.”


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