|Power Walk: An artist’s concept shows an energy-harvesting device based on a new microfluidics approach that could be embedded in a shoe sole.
Credit: InStep NanoPower
A new way to harvest footfall energy could someday let shoes generate enough power to keep cell phones and laptops topped up.
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have come up with a microfluidics technique that scavenges considerably more energy from human footfalls and converts it into electric power. Previous attempts to make energy-harvesting shoes have yielded less than a watt of power, but the new approach could lead to a shoe-mounted generator that produces up to 10 watts, says Tom Krupenkin, a mechanical engineering professor who led the work.