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Harvesting more energy out of everyday movements

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Using alternative energy is the only way we can go about ensuring our survival in the years to come. Since almost all forms of alternative energy are renewable, there’s no chance of sources depleting anytime soon. But, proponents of green energy will know that harnessing power from sources like the wind, sun and tidal waves isn’t as easy as it seems. Since they don’t exist at a steady rate, the odds against being able to harvest a steady stream of energy is high. As such, the energy output is far less compared to that gained from conventional sources like gas and oil.

Wringing More Energy out of Everyday Motions

We can’t let this hindrance stop us from trying to make use of alternative energy. Since conventional fuel reservoirs are low, we need to act fast to find other sources. Working towards this goal are engineers from Duke University, who claim to have developed a theoretical underpinning that could soon see energy harvesting devices being able to harness more power from life’s simple motions.

So far, conventional energy harvesters can be tuned only to a single frequency, limiting their capabilities as variables can be uncontrolled. This means that they can capture just a small bit of energy, which decreases their potential. But the engineers tweaked the principles used by linear devices so that they could take advantage of a higher range of frequencies.

They conducted an experiment on a cantilever model built of a piezoelectric material using magnets to simulate nonlinearity. Using the material’s ability to release energy when it’s bent, the engineers changed the magnets’ orientation and tuned the bending, in the process also tuning electricity production over a higher range of frequencies.

If the experiment can be applied to energy harvesters, we may soon see a world where people are able to power devices like cellphones and pacemakers simply by using the motion of walking.

Via: Sciencedaily

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