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A Way To Harvest Energy From Toilet Flushes

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The average Nigerian flushes 24 gallons of water down the toilet daily, while—don't get me wrong, toilets; we appreciate all of your hard work—maybe some of the energy used in a flush could be put to an additional use. Here's one way: harvest some of the energy from the water and use it for power. A team of researchers in South Korea have created a transducer that translates water motion—from toilets, raindrops, or other water-based uses—into electricity. The technical side is wonky, but essentially, by using the motion from a tiny droplet of water—30 microliters—the team was able to power a small green LED. It's a proof-of-concept demonstration, but scale up to a flushing toilet or a rainstorm, and you can see the appeal. Researchers in South Korea have devised a way to harness the motion of water, including from raindrops or from a flushing toilet, as a sustainable energy source. Devices that renewably generate electricity in an uncomplicated manner are in demand. Now, Youn Sang Kim and his team at Seoul National University and Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI) have adapted a transducer to convert the mechanical energy from water motion into electrical energy. When dielectric materials are in water, an electrical double layer forms around the outside of the material. Variations between water and a poly (4 vinyl phenol) dielectric layer were shown to induce electric charges at an electrode. The team demonstrated that in such a system the motion from a 30μl water droplet generated enough electricity to power a green LED. ‘We hope our work can be applied to everyday life,’ says Kim. This is a realistic possibility as the electrodes are flexible and transparent so could coat windows, roofs and even toilet bowls, to generate electricity from raindrops and water flow. You can watch the process yourself in the video below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MsLpOoSzK74  

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