An applaudable breakthrough in scientific research has the potential to combat prevailing energy issues with an innovative solution. Recently, scientists from the Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging (ITFSI) from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) demonstrated success in using the 3D graphene foam material Gii™ by Integrated Graphene to transform human energy into electrical power.
This investigation was specifically targeted towards harnessing commonly discarded mechanical energy to produce electrical power, which could propel small electronic devices and sensors. Such a solution would be invaluable in further advancing the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, given the upsurge in its global market.
In fact, the study, revealed in ScienceDirect, showed that human footsteps on a pressure-sensitive mat, equipped with Gii-TENG sensors, could generate enough energy to identify individuals entering or leaving a room, without compromising their privacy. Aside from offering a low-cost and energy-efficient way to monitor building occupancy, the mats could additionally regulate energy resources such as room temperature based on people’s presence.
This noteworthy research will particularly attract the attention of educational institutions, as these technologies could use occupancy measurements to manage ventilation systems and carbon dioxide monitors, potentially alleviating issues with concentration due to high CO2 levels.
Mechanical energy, being abundantly available in nature and extremely adaptable, has been explored as a method to convert day-to-day actions into useful electrical energy for approximately two decades. This energy can not only power small IoT devices and sensors but can also fuel energy-intensive items like electric cars and drones. Nevertheless, the path to a commercially feasible TENG has been hampered by issues such as low durability, limited energy output, and inefficiency. The entry of Gii™ into TENG, with its distinct properties like high surface area, porosity, light weight, and exceptional electrical properties, could change this landscape and transform various aspects of our lifestyles.
Integrated Graphene’s CSO, Marco Caffio, shared his thoughts, stating, “The possibilities of Gii-TENG are endless, with the potential to push the limits of technology beyond human expectations.” He highlighted the necessity for sustainable energy sources and technologies to meet the power demand from our ever-increasing reliance on technology. Caffio believes the Gii-TENG platform’s potential could prevent constant replacement of batteries in trillions of devices and reduce wire usage, thus enabling future IoT technology to be wireless and energy autonomous.
Supporting these views, Dr Carlos Garcia Nuñez, Lecturer, School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS), UWS, accentuated, “This discovery has enormous potential for the booming global Internet of Things (IoT) industry. Given the global need for alternative sources of green energy, Gii-TENGs can potentially provide a sustainable source of power for the multitude of small electronic devices which we use in our everyday lives.” He optimistically added that this approach brings us one step closer to realising a greener and more energy-abundant future.