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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

WANT! Wellies that generate power while you walk!

These could be really great for field work in case of emergencies. Many field workers wear wellies already and easily walk 10-12 hours per day (following habituated apes for example or walking transects). The power could be used to recharge a GPS or sat phone in the case of an emergency. -MA

from via the Tree Hugger facebook page
Charge Your Gadgets With Your Boots? Orange Unveils Power-Generating Wellies
by Jaymi Heimbuch

Orange and GotWind is a partnership known for coming up with some interesting new ways of generating power for off-grid charging. They've created everything from solar- and wind-powered tents to foot pumps . But now they want to attach that foot-powered action to boots themselves. Orange and GotWind are unveiling a pair of wellies that generate electricity as you walk.

According to Orange, "After a full days festival frolics you can plug your phone into the power output at the top of the welly and use the energy that has been generated throughout the day to charge your phone. The power collected in the 'power generating sole' is collected via a process known as the 'Seebeck' effect. Inside the power generating sole there are thermoelectric modules constructed of pairs of p-type and n-type semiconductor materials forming a thermocouple. These thermocouples are connected electrically forming an array of multiple thermocouples (thermopile). They are then sandwiched between two thin ceramic wafers. When the heat from the foot is applied on the top side of the ceramic wafer and cold is applied on the opposite side, from the cold of the ground, electricity is generated."

A prototype is going to be tested out at this year's Glastonbury Music Festival. Unfortunately, it takes a full 12 hours of walking to get enough energy for one hour's worth of talk time on your cell phone. Even at a music festival, I don't know anyone who walks around for 12 hours voluntarily.

It might be a fun experiment and publicity item for this year's fest, but these boots are unlikely to be any sort of solution for off-grid charging in a mainstream marketplace. So, don't get your hopes up quite yet - walking and talking still isn't as easy as we hope for, at least when it comes to cell phone batteries.

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