Our footsteps could generate power with an inexpensive flooring material. Wood pulp is a common waste material that could allow homeowners and communities to create their own energy by just walking around. Wood pulp is already a component of many pressed wood products, including flooring, but this particular type of pulp contains cellulose nanofibers that, when chemically treated, will produce an electrical charge.

The “footstep energy” has been previously created on a small scale but proved impractical due to the use of expensive and non recyclable products, but wood pulp is an abundant waste product from many industries: this new flooring might actually cost less than conventional floorings now in general use.

The power is generated from Triboelectricity, the same phenomenon that naturally produces static electricity on clothing. Triboelectricity falls into a larger green energy research field called “roadside energy harvesting”, that is focused on ways to capture the energy created by usual and everyday human activities.

Using footstep generator flooring in heavy traffic areas like malls or school hallways could generate a significant amount of energy. Unlike solar or water generator technologies, it is not dependent on certain weather conditions: the solar generator creates movement of electrons using the sun’s heat, while the new material uses the vibrations caused by walking or running. The electrons naturally want to shift back to correct the charge imbalance, but they must pass through an external circuit to return. That process creates the energy.

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