Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

The exponential growth of the "alternative energy" industry in the last few years shows great promise in regards to the energy independence of the United States. For awhile now, the energy responsible for our success has been provided by fossil fuels; petroleum, natural gas, coal, etc. But we all realize that these are finite resources and the energy source that will power our future success lies elsewhere. The future of sustainable, clean power lies in other, more abstract opportunities. Wind, of course, is a viable option. Solar, indeed, will also play a part. Tidal Wave is yet another viable method. Geothermal is particularly appealing due to its simplicity: basically stick a pipe in the ground, and you're done. Well, there's more to it but you get my drift. My favorite that I've been reading about lately is called Piezoelectric energy harvesting.

Sidewalk Power Generator?

What is it?

So generally Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting is based upon the piezoelectric effect. Yeah, I know. Real ground breaking stuff. The essence of the piezoelectric effect works as follows: by applying a mechanical stress to a crystal, one can generate a voltage or potential energy difference, and thus a current. Also by applying a current to a piezoelectric one can stress or strain the material. The mechanical stress can be supplied by any source. But with so many people walking around from place to place, why not harness that kinetic energy to power stuff, right?

Shoe Dynamo

How Is This Energy Harnessed?

So with the basic idea laid out, how can this phenomenon be but to use in generating electricity. A lot of ways. One highly viable option is to lay piezoelectric crystal arrays underneath sidewalks, stairwells, and pretty much any other high traffic area to power street lights or whatever else you care to plug in. The armed forces toyed with the idea of putting piezoelectric materials in soldiers boots to power radios and other portable electronic gear. This turned out to be not feasible with current technology at the present time due to the extra weight and discomfort of the setup, but it may be possible later on. Several nightclubs, mostly in Europe have already begun to power their strobes and stereos using the force of hundreds of people pounding on piezoelectric lined dancefloors. Several gyms, notable in Portland and a few other places are powered by a comination of piezoelectric set ups and generators set up on stationary bikes. We're really just looking at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the uses of human kinetic energy of people in motion to create energy.

Gyms Can Generate Their Own Energy

More To Come

Every week some new discovery concerning uses of piezoelectric energy is uncovered. Even though the idea has been around for awhile, in microphones, amplifiers, and other applications, electricity production in this area is in its infancy. One cool idea concerns piezoelectric nanowires embedded in clothing to create energy.

People Powered Dance Club in Holland

A Final Word On Energy Harvesting

In the near future, the lights at your favorite coffee shop or the stereo system at your local bar could very well be powered by foot traffic. If we want to maintain a certain lifestyle in an increasingly competitive, resource strapped world, we need to think outside the box when it comes to energy production. There are a million sources of clean, environmentally conscious power all around us, we just have to explore and utilize these sources in the most efficient manner possible. Ambient energy capture will no doubt play a large part in the future of renewable energy, and there's no time like the present to work on developing new, innovative means of electricity generation. I feel confident in saying that the world of tommorow looks pretty bright, both literally and figuratively.

Oh, hassam has a much better hub on the topic, called Generating Electricity From Body Heat. Great Stuff. 

Comments 32 comments

vitaeb profile image

vitaeb 8 years ago from Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Fabulous idea! Thanks very much for passing on this information.

ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

Every little bit can help. Very interesting bit of info.

Logan 7 years ago

When I heard about this technology the first thing I thought of was incorporating it with photovoltaic panels on rooftops.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

What a word! I've never heard of this either, but this is the kind of Hub that we can use on HubPages at this time!

artfuldodger profile image

artfuldodger 7 years ago from Earth Author

thanks for the kind words glassvisage. Honestly this hub is poorly written and not well fleshed out. but its my most popular, so i will def improve it with some better vids and info. the whole alternative energy deal is sort of my big interest, so ill fire off some hopefully better hubs about some new interesting stuff shortly

INDRANI profile image

INDRANI 7 years ago from INDIA

Thanks for sharing your excellent ideas. Very informative.

krishna kashyap 7 years ago

hey i have a thought which utilises piezoelectric phenomenon... a layer of piezoelectric material on the wheel of an automobile might generate a lot.......

artfuldodger profile image

artfuldodger 7 years ago from Earth Author

yeah, i actually had not thought of that. ill have to look into it. researching this hub i dont recall seeing anything about it, but it's getting stale so i think its time i dust if off and rewrite this guy

someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 7 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

How about using piezoelectric powered by schoolchildren exersizing during recess,or conventinal bicycles,riding around a track? Or having elephents at the zoo walk around on piezoelectric mats .How about horses running around racetracks.even cars on highways,or regular streets.How about mats under carpeting in buildings?

artfuldodger profile image

artfuldodger 7 years ago from Earth Author

yeah, pretty much any of that stuff works. i guess like any emerging tech stuff it all takes awhile for more people to get on board, and push the cost of the equiptment down. the first hybrids and electric plug in cars are expensive, all of it starts out as "fad stuff" for the rich then it gets more exposure and becomes more affordable

jd 7 years ago

more research and development has to be done to cut down cost for harnessing energy...

Alex 7 years ago

Ive always wondered, if they are able to put these crystals in walkwas around neighorhoods, could they possibly put some kind of system in the roads, specifically highways? So many cars pass over the highways all the time, there must be a way to harness that energy. Does anybody know anything about that sort of thing?

artfuldodger profile image

artfuldodger 7 years ago from Earth Author

yeah, im pretty sure they're working on that in... Germany or somewhere. They're pretty "with it" as far as exploring non traditional energy. I'd have to do some Googling tho' to see where the tech is at right now.

JakeAuto profile image

JakeAuto 7 years ago from Calif.

Here's a parasite power generation system prototype at work


While getting a little bio engine electricity is actual generation (pedal for TV power kids) this highway system is more of a power redistribution system, that I can see paying off by saving wiring expenses in some situations.

artfuldodger profile image

artfuldodger 7 years ago from Earth Author

Hey JakeAuto. Thanks for the link. I remember seeing something about this on Reddit a little while back. Exciting stuff.

Jeffrey Neal profile image

Jeffrey Neal 6 years ago from Tennessee

This is very interesting. I had not heard of this method used in the way it's described here in your hub. Piezoelectric energy harvesting definitely sounds like the sort of out of the box thinking that could assist with future energy needs, especially for larger cities. Great hub!

joshi anand 6 years ago

This is extravagant idea of producing electricity from a single quartz crystall.i have heard about this piezoelectric effect in my scool days,but after knowing what actually is this,i think the sources like battery are replaced by "PIEZOELECTRIC CELL"

shrikant 6 years ago

hey hi

thanks for providing this information

can i have this as my one of the project in B.E ?

need ur help .......

from where do i get tthis piezoelectric mat?

how much it would cost ?

artfuldodger profile image

artfuldodger 6 years ago from Earth Author

Hey, shrikant. I'm not sure how tough it'd be to make a small generator, but probably not cheap. Here is a link to a company in Massachusetts that specializes in this stuff. It's good beginning info.


Jeff McCarron 6 years ago

I understand piezo-electronics, I think. What if you had an expandable bladder-type system attached to an extra-atmospheric module, like a satellite, filled with gas in a vacuum? If the bladder material was filled with an array of piezo generators, or a liquid crystal substance, couldn't we use the negative pressure of space to create a mechanical force on the bladder, thereby creating an electric current from nothing? mccarron_349@hotmail.com

Peng 6 years ago

This is amazing and fabulous

Adnan Abbasi 5 years ago

@Jeff: your argument makes sense, but I would think that the energy generated by this technique would provide a very low electric current. Also I would make the bag out of a piezoelectric material or have embedded piezoelectric materials in the bag.

boss 5 years ago

how much amount of voltage generate from little amount of piezo electric polymer

gangadhar 5 years ago

hey srikanth, did u made project on piezoelectric crystal? Iam also planning for the same....., plz help me....,

artfuldodger profile image

artfuldodger 5 years ago from Earth Author

gangadhar, check out http://www.eeweb.com/project/thomas_caston/piezoel...

Not sure if you saw that already.

Dnyaneshwar Jadhav 5 years ago

Its very fantastic idea 4 energy generation. It will definitely help us to overcome the energy crisis. Lets search for more efficient way by using this method.

Jeorge 4 years ago

Great stuff... I am on d process of implementing this in our organisation...

James B. 4 years ago

I am wondering about the feasibility of large industrial applications where thousands or perhaps even millions of these might be used to generate power by utilizing the vibrations and heat of production equipment.

moorthy 4 years ago

hi frnds!how much power generate a single crystal,

Alice 4 years ago

very nice idea of renewable energy.


Vijai 4 years ago

This is a fabulous idea. Hope it will boost the future electric generation

Tom Lee 4 years ago

For more information: Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting 2012-2022: Forecasts, Technologies, Players: http://www.electronics.ca/publications/products/Pi...

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article