News - Energy from Rubber Sheets

Engineers at Princeton University have developed rubber films fitted with piezo-electric elements which, they say, could generate power from ordinary activities like walking, breathing, etc.

Piezo- electricity refers to the phenomenon of some materials to develop an emf when they are subjected to a mechanical force.  The silicone rubber sheets have ceramic nanoribbons embedded onto them.  The ceramic material used is lead zirconate titanate, a piezoelectric material which can convert 80% of the mechanical energy into electricity, a higher efficiency than quartz.   The lead zirconate titanate, also known as PZT, is made into nanoribbons so small that 100 of these can be fitted into a millimeter

Possible applications include doormats which can generate power when someone walks over them.  Shoes with piezo-electric soles which can generate power with every step.  Applications in the field of medicine include power supplies for pacemakers in heart patients.  Pacemakers which are implanted in the body require power supplies which are surgically fitted inside the body.  This include regular surgical operations to renew the power supplies.  Piezo-electric sheets which can be implanted inside the body can be used to power the pacemakers from the force exerted during breathing.

(Image Courtesy: Frank Wojciechowski/Princeton University)