Researchers from Switzerland have created ‘Sponge Wood’ that can generate electricity when squeezed

If you know how to use them, there are countless sources of energy all around us, according to foreign media reports. Sponge wood flooring can generate electricity when people walk on it, thanks to a new environmentally friendly method developed by Swiss researchers. The piezoelectric effect is the name given to this material’s working mechanism.

A voltage is generated when the positive and negative charges on the surfaces of a material are separated by compression under mechanical stress.

People can gain energy simply by walking on a floor made from these materials. Pavegan’s sidewalk tiles and football fields can both be powered by this principle. Similar energy harvesting floors, on the other hand, rely on the triboelectric effect, which generates electricity when nanofibers rub against one another.

Engineers from ETH Zurich and EMPA have investigated the wood’s piezoelectric potential. An alternative method was devised by the team to increase the amount of energy it can produce, which is normally insufficient.

In order to “delignify” the wood, they subjected it to heat. Lignin is a naturally occurring polymer that serves as a structural support for plant cells, particularly in wood and bark. Squeezing the wood is easy because it returns to its original shape after the pressure is removed due to the wood becoming softer by removing some lignin.

In the first experiment, researchers soaked wood in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid to remove lignin from the wood. The fungus Ganoderma applanatum, which eats away at lignin in wood, was used in the second experiment.

After that, both types of sponge wood were tested in the laboratory as piezoelectric generators. The first step is to create a cube with a side length of about 1.5 cm using an acid bath. An output voltage of 0.63 volts can power a small sensor for 600 cycles and remain stable. A liquid crystal display could be illuminated by compressing 30 of these building blocks with the weight of an adult.

The maximum voltage generated by a cube of the same size is 0.87V when sponge wood is made with fungus. Another benefit of this method, say the researchers, is that it is less harmful to the environment.

For example, this wood sponge generator can be used as a wearable sensor and an energy harvesting floor material. Another recent study showed that wood can emit light when exposed to ultraviolet light.


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