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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

We have an abundance of energy, and now we have the tech to tap into it – no matter where it is.

 

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Imagine a mobile phone charger that doesn’t need a wireless or mains power source, like this one that was created a couple of years ago that’s powered using nothing more than backscatter radiation from the air, or this one that could power itself using nothing more than vibrations from your voice. Or a pacemaker that harvests electricity directly from the human body… and crazily even directly from your bloodstream.

 

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This is the kind of research Australian researchers at Flinders University have been focusing on while picking up the challenge of finding new ways to scavenge the invisible power from the low-frequency vibrations in the surrounding environment – whether that’s from the wind, air, sound waves, radio waves, or even static electricity.

“These so called Triboelectric Nanogenerators (or TENGs) can be made at low cost and in different configurations making them perfect for powering small electronics such as personal electronics, biomechanical devices like pacemakers, sensors, and more,” says Professor Youhong Tang who led the research.

 

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Next the team plan on developing their TENG’s from cheap and sustainable materials that can push them to even higher energy efficiencies.

“They can use non-invasive materials, so could one day be used for implantable and wearable energy harvesting aims,” says Ph.D. candidate Mohammad Khorsand, co-lead author on recent papers in international journal Nano Energy.

The latest paper uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhanced mathematical modelling to compare the function of the number of segments, rotational speed and tribo-surface spacing of an advanced TENG prototype to optimize the storage and performance.

 

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The researchers, with colleagues at the University of Technology Sydney and elsewhere, are working to improve power generation of TENGs and store the generated power on supercapacitor or battery.

“We have been able to effectively harvest power from sliding movement and rotary motion which are abundantly available in our living environment,” says Professor Tang.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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