Far Out Tech

Soon, the Floor in Your House Could Be Your Next Energy Source

The 'Electric Slide' apparently has new meaning now thanks to science.
Soon, the Floor in Your House Could Be Your Next Energy Source

Associate Professor Xudong Wang holds a prototype of the researchers’ energy harvesting technology. The technology could be incorporated into flooring and convert footsteps on the flooring into usable electricity.

You know how dragging your feet around on carpeting can create finger-zapping static electricity? Well, thanks to the findings of university researchers, walking around your floor might someday create electricity and help power your house.

A team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says it has developed a technique using wood pulp and chemically treated cellulose nanofibers. Apparently the treated nanofibers produce an electrical charge when they come into contact with untreated fibers.

The power of friction! Really.

When embedded within flooring, the nanofibers are able to produce electricity that can be harnessed to power lights or charge batteries, the university says. The research team -- made up of Xudong Wang, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, and his graduate student Chunhua Yao -- recently published their findings in the journal Nano Energy.

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Perhaps the best part of their finding is the cost. Wood pulp is an inexpensive waste product of several industries, meaning that flooring that incorporates this new technique could be as affordable as conventional materials, the university says.

You might get the biggest bang for your buck by installing flooring like this in high-traffic hallways and public places like malls. “We’ve been working a lot on harvesting energy from human activities. One way is to build something to put on people, and another way is to build something that has constant access to people.” Wang said in an announcement. “The ground is the most-used place.”

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Wang and his team expect that the affordability of such a product could be appealing to regular Joes like me who might someday soon install flooring systems like this in my house, for about the same price as traditional flooring materials. I say, get your Electric Slide on and power up.