What if our parquet or the floor we walk on could become a source of electricity? That’s what Swiss researchers are trying to do! You managed to turn wood into a piezoelectric sponge!
This technology could therefore be incorporated into a biodegradable parquet that powers devices simply by walking. It’s an initial idea that takes steps into account, a renewable energy source that is not yet being used. Researchers at Empa and ETH Zurich have found this simple and ecological process that could revolutionize our interior!
Piezoelectricity is the property that certain materials are electrically polarized under the action of mechanical stress and, conversely, are deformed when an electric field is applied to them.
However, wood is too rigid a material to carry out this technology. The researchers therefore converted wood into balsa, a spongy material. Wood is made up of three substances: lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose. Researchers remove lignin from wood by immersing it in an acid bath that contains oxygen peroxide and acetic acid …
This chemical process results in a 1.5 cm wooden sponge that can generate up to 0.69 volts when pressed. Granted, the voltage is very low at 7.1 nanoamps, but it is enough to make a pressure sensor out of it. Thus it would be possible to supply an LCD screen with 30 cubes, which are arranged between two copper sheets and two wooden panels.
A 1.5 centimeter wooden sponge that can generate up to 0.69 volts. Image Credit: Shutterstock / Fizkes
To remove lignin from the wood, the researchers used a fungus, Ganoderma applanatum. This process, which is more ecological than the previous one, is carried out by the decomposition of lignin by the fungus. The result remains the same after decomposition by the fungus.
The cubes formed in this way could generate electricity through pressure. This would make it an extremely simple process based on fully recyclable and biodegradable materials.