Clean Power

Published on April 22nd, 2014 | by Derek Markham


New Method Of Harvesting Renewable Energy From Flushing Toilets (VIDEO)

April 22nd, 2014 by  

Originally published on Ecopreneurist.

toilet energy

Finding new and different methods of harvesting renewable energy is a key component of building a more sustainable future, and while solar power, wind power, and ocean energy are often the focus of large-scale renewables research, it turns out that something that we take for granted, our toilets, could be used to also generate electricity.

Researchers in South Korea have developed a method of harvesting electricity from the motion of water, which could be from anything from drops of rain to a flushing toilet, and the technology may possibly end up being implemented on surfaces such as windows and roofs.

The research team based at the Seoul National University and Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI), and led by Youn Sang Kim, have adapted a transducer to generate electricity from the motion of water, and while the initial demonstration is on the micro-scale, eventually this technology could be scaled up to provide significant amounts of energy.

“Using the energy harvesters based on this novel concept, we demonstrated the wide applicability toward natural water’s motions, such as rain, rivers, and even sea waves as well. We believe that they can substantially inspire for new energy harvesting technology form ambient energy sources.”

renewable energy flush toilet

“We found that the overlapped area variation between the water and the dielectric layer can effectively induce the variation of electric charges, and then easily generate electricity. These active capacitive-transducers have a simple structure: substrate including the patterned transparent electrodes, spin-coated dielectric layers, and hydrophobic layers. Actually, through the motion of only one flowing tap-water droplet of 30 μl, we could successfully generate the electricity with a peak voltage ~3.1 V and peak current ~5.3 μA, which was enough to turn on a green LED.”

The research has been published in Energy & Environmental Science journal: The Effective Energy Harvesting Method from Natural Water Motion Active Transducer (WMAT)

Image: Lynda

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

  • Wayne Williamson

    The toilet thing is just silly. If you can do something like this, then put it on someones roof and every time it rains your making electricity….

  • Peter Gray

    Nice to see someone playing with the idea, but if they really have something, I wouldn’t think they’d want to go public with it when they’re only making 16 microwatts.
    This doesn’t look as instantly disprovable, but it kind of has the feel of the “harvesting energy from sound waves” idea that was reported on CT a few months ago.

  • Matt

    The video just shows it is a long way to go. They have to be in the dark to see any light from the tiny LED. And WTF, did it have to do with a “Flushing Toilet” oh because they use water.

  • Michael Berndtson

    Thank god that picture is art. I couldn’t tell before clicking on the article and the larger photo showed up. Then again, it’s not like this scenario, as interpreted by the artists, isn’t something I totally freak out about.

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