A New Way of Powering IoT Devices – Wood @IDTechEx

Harvesting forests may soon yield wood that allows harvesting of energy, thanks to researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and with help from the USDA. Speaking at the 2016 ID-TechEX conference, Chunhua Yao, co-founder of EWPanel and Xudong Wong, Associate Professor at UW-Madison explain that an electrode is embedded into the wood fiber. The wood fiber can then be integrated into mats, in flooring products and, potentially, even clothing.

Pressure on the wood fiber (e.g. a person stepping on the mat), generates a relatively short duration, high voltage (up to 100 Volts), low-current (milliWatts) pulse. Yao points out that this pulse is ideal for powering low-power, IoT devices.  It also can serve as a sensor; for instance as a way of measuring foot-traffic.  She points out that the wood fiber is recyclable, relatively low-cost and durable. Their goal is to bring it to market in 2017.

[Note: the research paper, Triboelectric nanogenerators and power-boards from cellulose nanofibrils and recycled materials, co-authored by Yao and Wong, provides additional detail.]