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Piezoelectricity: how to get energy from everyday movements

Anastasia Dolgorukova and Alexander Demidov, first-year students of the master's program ‘Prototyping the cities of the future’, created a sleeve-like prototype which generates and collects electricity. The project demonstrates not only a new approach towards decentralized energy production, but also proposes a new way of interaction between retail sector and consumers that can be achieved with electricity monetization and crypto currency market. The research was done within the ‘City project. Objects’ course taught by architect Elena Mitrofanova and researcher at the Synthetic landscape laboratory at Innsbruck University (Austria) Maria Kuptsova. In order to create a wear-resistant product that is comfortable to wear in everyday life, and is generating enough electricity, it was decided to use piezoelectric effect. It occurs when pressure is applied on piezo elements. To determine where to locate these elements the authors have studied different parts of a human body that bend the most during everyday activities.

All eight body parts were tested and the most suitable ones for the future product were empirically determined. The students proved that piezo elements should be placed on an elbow or under a knee to create a durable and comfortable prototype capable of producing energy. For their project, the authors decided to work with an arm as it proved itself to be the most mobile body part.

Since piezo elements are very fragile, it was decided to use silicone as an auxiliary material, as the most pleasant and flexible material to protect piezo elements from wear and tear. The final combination of textile, silicone and silicone tubes creates a system that uses air which exerts pressure on piezo elements. The main part – the catalyst – of the whole system is the elbow, where a silicone chamber with air is located. When a person slightly bends an arm, air inside the chamber passes through the tubes and increases the pressure inside the silicone bubble, which is located above each piezo element. Such an isolated air system prevents accidental damage of piezo elements inside the prototype due to excessive pressure or bending, and thus helps to increase its durability.

From a store perspective, energy costs will remain unchanged – in fact, only the ‘supplier’ will change. However, the introduction of this prototype will presumably have a very strong impact on the popularity of healthy eating and will multiply sales.

From a personal perspective, all you need to do is to continue living a full life, only wearing a new prototype. Thus, simple movements that previously had no direct equivalent to the monetary system in the capitalist world now become its active component – generating electricity, which in turn is transformed into a new green cryptocurrency.