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Future Perfect: Generating electricity from sound

Generating electricity from sound

What’s happening right now

Researchers have shown that sound energy can also be converted into power for public consumption. Theoretically, every object in the universe is composed of some form of energy. As such, energy can be obtained from every other object if a proper mechanism is developed. However, very little effort has been put to develop technologies for harnessing energy from sound and our search for the ‘green’ sources of power has been limited mostly to the exploration of solar, tidal, nuclear and wind energy.

Trends

1.Turn heat into sound and then into electricity by University of Utah physicists

Physicists at the University of Utah have developed this technology that can change heat into sound, and then sound into electricity. It could be used to change waste heat generated by various devices to electricity. They have used a very simple principle for this. The air inside an enclosed area expands when heated and increases the pressure. This air produces a clear sound when allowed to pass through a filter. The sound waves are then converted into electricity by passing through piezoelectric devices.

2. ‘Sound waves’ and biomass-powered cooker-fridge-electricity generator

Description:

Named the SCORE device, this technology has been developed by researchers at the University of Nottingham. This device is a compilation of a cooker, a fridge and a generator that produces electricity from sound. Burning wood is used to heat a gas-filled pipe at one end. When the gas moves from the hotter part towards the colder part, the pipe resonates and produces acoustic pressure waves that is turned into electricity.

3. Etalim designs an engine that can harness sound waves to produce electricity

Designed by a Vancouver based company, Etalim, this engine converts heat energy into mechanical energy, and then converts this mechanical energy to electrical energy. Instead of the traditionally used piston, this new engine uses a metal plate on which pressurized helium is placed. The sound waves traveling through the helium are amplified when it is heated and hence pushes down a metal diaphragm on a shaft to produce electricity.

4. Sharjah university students create device that produces energy from noise

Although it is still in the process of further development, this device also uses piezoelectric technology to turns sound energy into electricity. It can transform noise created by simple movements, in football stadiums or footsteps into electricity. As such, it can be widely used in noisy localities and also on roads to capture sound energy from moving vehicles.

5. Orange Sound Charge T-Shirt

Developed by the telecommunication company Orange, this technology enables you to recharge mobile phones from your T-shirt. It uses a piezoelectric film that acts like a large microphone to tap the sound pressure waves and convert them into electricity which is stored in an internal battery. This battery transmits power to your mobile phone.

The concept

The energy of the sound waves can be converted into electricity with the help of piezoelectric devices.These devices are mostly made up of crystals and generate electrical signals when exposed to pressure from sound waves. Scientists have also produced electricity from heat by using it to produce sound pressure waves and then passing it through piezoelectric devices to produce electricity.

The advantages

  • It is a renewable source of power and a ‘green’ alternative.

  • Sound pressure waves are omnipresent, even when not audible to our ears.

  • It can used to power small gadgets.

  • It can be a source of energy on the move for campers or nomads.

  • It can be used to power street lights at a very less cost.

  • It can be immensely beneficial for the under-developed world

The impact

The fact that our day to day noises could be converted into electricity and put to some use can change the way we think of our energy future. However, it is still too early to say that sound energy can be our answer to an impending energy crisis. Having said that, we will need a multi-pronged strategy to face any crisis and sound energy could be a valid alternative.

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  • Rafi

    ye this is good for power improvement. our final year project is also on sound to electrical energy

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