Tapping the Power of Environmental Vibrations

Loraine Lawson

Over the Fourth of July holiday, I did something I haven't done in, oh, 22 years.


I was in a water balloon fight.


It wasn't pretty -- five adults and about 15 children in a free-for-all that left everyone drenched and the adults exhausted.


The children, however, were just getting started. It's a cliche, but I couldn't help but think: Why doesn't somebody bottle all that preschool energy?


After reading this article, I think I know how we can do it: With vibration energy harvesting.


Engineers at the University of Southampton in the UK have developed an tiny electric generator -- about the size of a six-sided die -- that captures environmental vibrations and converts about 30 percent of this kinetic energy into power.


True, it's not enough to power an MP3 player, but researchers say it could be used to power wireless sensors or, perhaps, micro-medical implants.


What really interested me is that larger versions of the device are already being manufactured and used in commercial settings, such as to power wireless sensors attached to oil refineries


Now, if we could just find a way to allow adults to use that energy, I might be able to accumulate enough power for another water balloon battle before 22 more years pass.

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