Energy Harvesting Through Piezoelectricity - Technology Foresight


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Piezoelectricity (from the Greek word piezein – “pressure” or “squeeze”) can enable a “process of extracting, converting and storing energy from the environment” and was discovered by Curie in 1880.

We all know that energy is the source of everything, energy lights our cities, powers our vehicles, and run machinery in factories. It warms and cools our homes, cooks our food, play our favorite music, and give us pictures on television. The discovery of fire by man led to the possibility of burning wood for cooking and heating thereby using energy. You’ve probably used piezoelectricity (pronounced “pee-ay-zo-electricity”) quite a few times today. If you’ve got a quartz watch, piezoelectricity is what helps it keep regular time. If you’ve been writing a letter or an essay on your computer with the help of voice recognition software, the microphone you spoke into probably used piezoelectricity to turn the sound energy in your voice into electrical signals your computer could interpret. If you’re a bit of an audiophile and like listening to music on vinyl, your gramophone would have been using piezoelectricity to “read” the sounds from your LP records.

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Piezoelectricity (literally, “pressing electricity”) is much simpler than it sounds: it just means using crystals to convert mechanical energy into electricity or vice-versa. Let’s take a closer look at how it works and why it’s so useful. According to Laumann et al., (2017) “Energy harvesting is important in designing low power intelligent networks, such as internet-of-things. Energy harvesting can ensure wireless and loseless energy supply to energy dependent technological solutions with independence of infrastructure”. Piezoelectric material are naturally balanced, which means their positive and negative charged are cancelling our each other.

Piezoelectric materials are the main component of this project as mentioned by Laumann et al., “there are 200 more piezoelectric materials with piezoelectric properties and ceramic lead zirconate titanate, also known as PZT, is the most widely used one”. It is probably possible to harvest kinetic energy by using piezoelectric materials. The shift of kinetic energy into electricity can be undoubtedly better with other technologies like electromagnets or vibration power generators. The process of energy harvesting as mentioned by Laumann et al., can be accomplished by putting piezoelectric materials in a shoe, due to the pressure being applied by the user in the shoe, it can produce sufficient energy for charging cellphones, or energy that being produce can be stored in a battery to be used on other things like tablets and other more gadgets. It can also be placed in tiles inside a club that can mutates the guests’ changes of vertical kinetic energy from dancing into electricity. It is estimated that the dancefloor can produce up to 60% of energy needed to run the club.

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