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Power Hardware Science

Rubber Boots Charge Your Phone 111

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the put-on-your-lead-boots dept.
andylim writes "UK wireless provider Orange and renewable energy experts GotWind have come up with a prototype pair of power-generating rubber boots. Inside the power-generating soles of the boots are thermoelectric modules constructed of pairs of p-type and n-type semiconductor materials forming thermocouples, which are connected electrically to form 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."
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Rubber Boots Charge Your Phone

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  • Slow news day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday June 07, 2010 @09:33AM (#32482880)

    Periodically someone will come out with one of these "Clothing that generates electricity" (usually based on kinetic energy, in this case on body heat) inventions and the press will briefly cover it as a novelty item, then forget it. The clothing product in question will always be expensive, uncomfortable, prone to break and malfunction, and unable to generate enough electricity to be of any practical use. People either don't buy it at all or stop buying it the second the newspaper story fades from view. They stop buying it for the same reason that I ditched my "generator powered" light on my bicycle when I was a kid (you remember, the one that attached to the tire and used its kinetic energy to power the bike's headlight)--because it doesn't work worth a damn.

    I just hope those much-touted wind turbines that are all the rage now work a lot better than my old bike light at converting kinetic energy to electrical.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @09:36AM (#32482906)

    Assuming the laws of thermodynamics are still intact, they also keep your feet cool. So, not so good for cold climates - which is unfortunate, because that's when the temperature gradient is highest and they'd work the best.

  • Unfortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NtwoO (517588) on Monday June 07, 2010 @09:50AM (#32483066) Homepage
    It'll cool your feet in the winter when it works at its best and in the summer the difference between warm sidewalks and the inside of the boot will not generate any electricity. This means that when you don't mind to wear it, it does not work. When it works, it causes so much discomfort that you choose not to... Mmm.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Monday June 07, 2010 @10:22AM (#32483440) Homepage Journal

    ...yes, and essentially only inexpensive white LED put an end to them.

    The battery-powered lamps were a gimmick, too expensive in use (expensive batteries, note rechargeables were scarce, expensive and poor capacity back then too!) and too short-living (bulb energy draw) for any longer routes. The dynamo was the standard, sure it put extra friction but finely tuned the friction was well within acceptable standards and the light strength was unparallelled.

    A dynamo gives about 5W at 5V on standard use. That is 1 Ampere, which means state-of-the-art(then) 1000mAh rechargeables, or a set of standard 3 bulky A-size 1.5V batteries could run the lamp at the same strength for about a hour. Which was pathetic.

    Even today dynamo still has its place - as a backup. If batteries die in your LED lamp, you can switch to dynamo. If you ride downhill, you can ride faster because the faster you ride the stronger the light is (and it's much stronger than your average bicycle LED lamp), and it gives an extra braking power. And normally you switch it off.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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