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Power Hardware Science

Rubber Boots Charge Your Phone 111

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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  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wwwillem ( 253720 ) on Monday June 07, 2010 @09:46AM (#32483004) Homepage

    I ditched my "generator powered" light on my bicycle

    Those are not a temporary fad that doesn't really work. In Holland (where there are more bicycles than people) those dynamo's [] are the standard way (at least were before LED lights) of powering bicycle lights.

    It was the next progression after the carbid lantern, so I guess that started around WWII, maybe even earlier. At least I'm from 1957 and I can't remember anything else.

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) <> on Monday June 07, 2010 @09:52AM (#32483098)
    Because regenerative braking would be several orders of magnitude more complex and expensive to implement than a simple permanent magnet generator.
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Monday June 07, 2010 @10:30AM (#32483520)

    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.

    You mean a dynamo? What do you mean “it doesn’t work”? It works great. In rain, snow, everything. And with it, I don’t look like an idiot who’t replacing batteries or having to recharge the thing all the time, while still only having three weak flickering LEDs.
    What? But it goes off when you stop, you say? Not anymore. That’s solved with capacitors since at least a decade ago.
    And no, they don’t slow you down like in the olden days anymore.
    Also, they don’t slip, even when everything’s full of snow. For the worst situations there are even hub dynamos.

    That setup is also definitely cheaper in the long run. Let alone all the saved “making it recharge”s.

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday June 07, 2010 @10:30AM (#32483524) Homepage Journal

    Batteries are...

    ...not made with big lumps of iron, and thus lighter than a dynamo when you're talking about powering an LED bike light. The dynamo has a certain minimum size if you want it to be durable. But a bike light can easily be powered by a couple of AAA batteries these days, or some even smaller solution. For example I have a 5 LED hand-crank flashlight that has a battery pack that looks like three cells half the size of a AAA each. It runs for many hours on a full charge. To be fair it has a very small and light dynamo in it, but it doesn't have to be powered by a bike wheel either, which is why it can be so flimsy.

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @10:40AM (#32483656)

    Today's tech would make bike dynamos work so well that I have no idea why they don't make them any more. Perhaps battery tech is so good that there's little advantage?

    Around here (Sweden) they're generally replaced by a generator integrated into the front hub resulting in far better efficiency (thus much less drag) than relying to force a small diameter wheel to spin by gripping against the possibly wet/muddy/snowy tire.

    With a small integrated battery/super-cap you also get light while stationary (at least for a while).

    Not that totally battery-powered lights are uncommon, but IME rechargeables tend to die rather abruptly and Murphy will assure it happens just when you need light the most... There's also the thing that you need to take the battery lights with you whenever you park the bike due to individuals with no respect for other peoples property [please, someone give me an anti-theft system like in Neuromancer]

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @10:56AM (#32483872)

    If you built it into the bicycle's hub, it might not cause nearly as much resistance.

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by overlordofmu ( 1422163 ) <> on Monday June 07, 2010 @11:12AM (#32484086)
    Ah, yes. The carbide lantern. Which carbide? Answer: calcium carbide

    And how does it work? Well, you put it into water which is inside of a copper lamp and one of the the resultant compounds is a gas named acetylene which you light on fire as it squirts from an opening in your lamp. The burning acetylene is the light for you to coal mine by.

    I have my grandfather's carbide lantern. Can you imagine being a coal miner? Can you imagine being a coal miner with an open flame on your head your whole work day?
  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday June 07, 2010 @11:21AM (#32484184)
    I still have one of those on one of our old bikes and it gets used a few times a year without problems and it works well. So before you publish that something doesn't work, you might want to check if you have one of the many models which just aren't made well.

    A current example of this are the crank up flashlights. We recently lost a nice one we've had for a few years and started looking for a new one. Let me tell you, that are _not_ all the same. I now see so many which just have a little DC motor inside while the one we had was nicely geared and used rare earth magnets and a weighted flywheel. The same goes for most everything out there so don't blast something unless you did the research and got the best on the market or know what you got is well designed and well made.


To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire