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Harvesting energy from vibrations

Piezoelectric materials can transform mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Because of that they are used in a multitude of everyday applications from gas lighters to inkjet printers and from ultrasound generators in medical applications (echography devices, blood sensors, lithotripters) to vibration dampers (in cars, skis, helicopter blade). However, piezoelectric materials have the potential to play an even greater role in society by harvesting the energy that is wasted ubiquitously as vibrations (from cars, house appliances, industrial machine) and transforming it into electricity. Beatriz Noheda (Physicist, Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials) wants to create new, widely applicable piezoelektrics to make this possible.

Recovering lost energy

The dream for the future of Noheda is to pave all roads, railways and floors with piezoelectric materials. But in order to use the energy all around us, from for example moving vehicles, piezoelectric materials have to be made lighter, thinner and less toxic than the ones available today (which contain heavy chemical elements, such as lead). An enormous amount of energy that is now lost, could be recovered this way.

Support from Groningen alumni

Former University of Groningen students support the research of Noheda trough the Alumni Chapter in Groningen. Thanks to these alumni Noheda has hired a PhD-student to experiment with lead substitute materials. During the last meeting of the Aduarderkring (read the newsletter) Everhardt said he has managed to develop a new piezoelectric material without lead, but  with the same efficiency of the current lead-containing materials. He has used barium titanate, a safe and inexpensive material, also used in sunscreen. This material is not toxic and can therefore be safely applied in many ways. This is an enormous achievement for a young scientist and the Aduarderkring is very proud of Everhardt.

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Last modified:17 May 2019 3.00 p.m.
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