It happened again, I was 50 miles from home with a million things that needed to be done, when I got a flat tire, and my cell phone was dead. I didn’t have a charger, I was in the middle of nowhere, and I had to get to a dentist appointment AND I pick my daughter up at school. Why is it the phone never goes dead while I’m texting nonsense to my best friend in Minnesota?
Someday, days like today could be a distant memory, as electrical engineers in South Korea are currently working on a system that can convert everyday sound into energy, so imagine if you will, a world where cell phones can recharge themselves as people speak into them. The technology would also be able to harness background noise and music, to charge phones while they’re not being used.
The actual process being used in order to convert sound into energy seems simple enough. According to a recent article in the Telegraph, “The technology uses tiny strands of zinc oxide sandwiched between two electrodes. A sound absorbing pad on top vibrates when sound waves hit it, causing the tiny zinc oxide wires to compress and release. This movement generates an electrical current that can then be used to charge a battery.”
A prototype of this technology was able to convert sound of around 100 decibels – which is the equivalent of noisy traffic – to generate 50 millivolts of electricity. “This is not enough to charge a phone properly, but Dr Kim and his colleagues hope that by altering the material the wires are made from, they will be able to produce more energy at lower sounds levels.
Now if the music on my iPod could just run the vacuum cleaner and the vacuum noise could keep the iPod charged… that would be living!