Recycled fiberboard and pulp could be sources for electricity

Seshadri Ramkumar,   Texas Tech University, USA     
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Recycled cardboard fibers and pulp, when developed into triboelectric generators can produce electricity. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are advancing the field of “roadside energy harvesting” by getting help from recycled paper boards and pulp based cellulose nanofibers.

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Figure: Dr. Xudong Wang holds researcher’s prototype of energy harvesting technology, which uses wood pulp and harmless nanofibers. (Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison website)

Integrated triboelectric fiberboards were developed using cellulose nanofibers triboelectric generator embedded in fiberboards developed using recycled paper boards, using cold press method. Triboelectric phenomenon is similar to the production of static charges on textiles. Cellulose nanofibers were produced using commercially available bleached eucalyptus pulp.

Dr. Xudong Wang of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison collaborated with USDA’s Forest Products Laboratory, Madison in developing the electricity generator. The research has shown that such triboelectric generators could produce electricity to charge light bulbs and batteries.

The team demonstrated that electric power necessary to charge up to 35 green LEDS, can be generated when a person stepped on to the fiberboard, as if walking. The mechanical energy is then converted into electrical energy.

The next phase of the research has to focus on increasing the conversion efficiency of mechanical energy to electrical energy. The research has been published in a recent issue of Nano Energy.

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