Energy-generating car tires are created using new nanogenerator

If you are tuned into the world of electric cars, then you’ve probably already heard about the regenerative braking systems – which serve to recapture some of the car’s kinetic energy and convert it into electricity, so that it can be used to recharge the car’s batteries. However, it seems that something even more sophisticated, involving nanogenerators was created by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Image by University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering

According to the study, you can generate energy while the car is running (to see how this works, see the image below). The strips placed on the tires of the toy car, functions as an electrode feeding a nanogenerator – this causes an effect called triboelectric. This single-electrode triboelectric nanogenerator is a well-studied method of turning mechanical energy into electric energy.

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Image by University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering

If you are wondering what on earth a triboelectric effect is, the simple movement of rubbing a balloon on your head making your hair stand up can answer that question – the movement generates static electricity. During the tests, the friction generated between tire and ground is what fuels the vehicle. The researchers in the study found that this friction with the asphalt consumes about 10% of the total fuel consumed by the vehicle – so the new approach should not only reduce consumption, but also improve the efficiency and the car’s performance. “Regardless of the energy being wasted, we can reclaim it, and this makes things more efficient,” says Xudong Wang, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at UW-Madison. “I think that’s the most exciting part of this, and is something I’m always looking for: how to save the energy from consumption.”

The researchers commented that energy savings should differ according to car sizes and travel speed. However, with the technology, a common hybrid should consume at least 10% less energy. “There’s big potential with this type of energy,” Wang says. “I think the impact could be huge.”

Source: Popular Science

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