press release
Published: 17 June 2020

Free electrical energy from movement to power portable electronics of the future

We could soon be using “free electricity” generated by our own movements to power our portable devices, according to a breakthrough study from the Universities of Surrey and Loughborough.

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In a paper published by Nano Energy, researchers detail how they cracked the unreliable nature of previous triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) – a type of low cost and lightweight energy generator which can be produced using recyclable materials. 

In the new study, the team show how they created direct current triboelectric nanogenerators (DC-TENGs), resulting in the technology generating continuous power, like that used in most electronic devices. The researchers successfully demonstrated the sustained powering of a number of electronic devices, including LEDs and electronic watches using movements similar to that found in the ambient environment.

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey, and corresponding author said: “One of our chief ambitions is to make free energy possible for all by 2035 and our breakthrough strongly suggests TENGs technology will be part of the energy mix for mobile applications in that greener future. Not only will this DC-TENG allow for us to improve the health of our planet, but it will also allow for future portable devices, particular Internet of Things, to thrive wirelessly and autonomously.”

The lead scientist of this project, Dr Ishara Dharmasena, who is currently working as a Doctoral Prize Fellow at Loughborough University  said: “In today’s technological context, exploring novel autonomous power sources which can sustainably generate electricity using freely available energy in our surrounding is pivotal to the success of future electronic technologies. With the invention of DC-TENG technology, we are moving one step closer to achieving this dream.”

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