Wood-derived materials can be used to harvest electrical energy from everyday movements such as walking, according to a new study from researchers at Waterloo Engineering and the University of Toronto Engineering.
In a paper recently published in Nano Energy, the team demonstrated the use of lignocellulosic nanofibrils, derived from tree bark, in a prototype self-powered device capable of sending a wireless signal to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
Such devices can be used to track biometric data such as heart rate, oxygen levels or skin conductivity. The innovation could improve the performance of these devices while lowering their environmental impact.
Dayan Ban, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Waterloo, played a key role in the project by overseeing development of a prototype triboelectric nanogenerator.
“Our key challenges were finding a highly efficient way to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy and then storing enough of that energy to power the system,” Ban said. “It was rewarding to achieve that while also limiting the environmental footprint of the multi-function system.”
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