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Monday, May 9, 2011

Sound, The Next Source Of Battery Charging Power?



A new technology being worked on in South Korea allows sound waves to be converted into energy. Right now it’s being tested and used on small electronics such as cell phones, but the man behind the project has some pretty high hopes.

That man is Dr. Sang-Woo Kim, of the institute of nanotechnology at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea. He told the UK Telegraph;

"A number of approaches for scavenging energy from environments have been intensively explored.

"The sound that always exists in our everyday life and environments has been overlooked as a source. This motivated us to realize power generation by turning sound energy from speech, music or noise into electrical power.

His team has been successful in doing just that. The technology they've developed uses Nano-sized strands of zinc oxide placed between two electrodes. When sound hits an absorption pad that’s placed on top, the zinc oxide wires compress and release. The tiny movements then generates the electrical current that charges the battery.

Of course the tiny amount of energy being generated isn’t quite enough to do anything really significant, but Dr. Kim has hopes that a new material might yield much better results.

Dr. Kim also hopes that in the future his technology will be used in a larger capacity. He also mentioned to the UK Telegraph that “Sound power can be used for various novel applications including cellular phones that can be charged during conversations and sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles.  He added that putting using “sound power” to insulate walls would not only help run the buildings electricity, but also provide better sound insulation to keep noise inside down.

This isn’t the only ‘environmentally charged’ technology on the block by any means, there have been devices that run on everything from kinetic (movement) energy to the human heartbeat. The thing that makes this interesting to me is, if the tech gets to a level where it CAN charge your phone. That would be pretty damned cool, I mean really what would be better than a phone that pretty much never dies. Since the phone can charge using sound from any source, you don’t necessarily have to be talking on the phone in order for the charge to take effect. That means the only time you’ll really be losing battery is when your playing games in church or the dentist's office, or whatever other awkward quiet places you like to hang out.

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