You might have heard one talking about solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower as our renewable energy sources. A Korean team of scientists hopes to modify the list of renewables with a chatty inclusion. They are relying on the power of speech for shoring up our most frequently used communication tool – the cell phone. Maybe at some point, the same energy could power our national electrical grids.
Scientists Young Jun Park and Sang-Woo Kim created a tiny piezoelectric material from the main ingredient of calamine lotion that is capable enough to convert sound waves into electricity. The technology hopes to reverse the process, which involves conversion of electric signals into sound. Scientists believe:
Sound power can be used for various novel applications including mobile phones that can be charged during conversations and sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles.
The process could deliver the vital energy to an electrical grid by harvesting the noise of rush hour traffic. Anyhow, the scientists used zinc oxide to create a field of nanowires sandwiched between two electrodes. When the sandwich was blasted with sound waves, the sound waves generated a mild electrical current of about 50 millivolts. It’s very low when compared to what it actually needs to charge a cellphone.