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Study Creates Homemade Power Plant Using Pencil, Teflon Tape And Cardboard

Pencil, cardboard and teflon tape have more to them than meets the eye. Xiao Sheng Zhang of the University of Tokyo has discovered a way of producing power equivalent of 2 AA batteries, using only these household articles. The device they have engineered is barely 8 square centimeters in size, but is capable of generating 3V or more. Though it is not much, the discovery is exciting because it is affordable and more importantly because it doesn't leave any residual waste behind.


The concept upon which this discovery rests is static electricity; the transfer of electrons between two insulators when they come in contact. The system uses two cardboards, bent as a bow so that they don’t touch each other. Both the cardboards are scribbled with the pencil, so that the layer of carbon acts as electrodes. One of the cardboards is treated to teflon tape on the other side. They are placed in such a way that the system is enclosed by carbon electrodes on both sides, and two layers of paper beneath them, and a teflon tape in the middle.

When the cardboards are pressed against each other, they come in contact, and as a result, there is a charge polarity between them. When released and they get separated from each other, the charges are transferred to the carbon layer. The researchers attached a capacitor to the carbon electrodes which absorbs the charge generated every time the cardboards are pressed against each other.

As an enhancement to this already efficient system, Xiao Sheng used sandpaper to roughen the surfaces of the cardboards. This increased the area of contact, therefore amplifying the charge generated. The system experienced a spike in output of up to 6 times. The miniature power plant can light up a small LCD screen, power a remote control or nano sensor.

The research on generating energy from static electricity, also known as Triboelectric Nanogenerator, began in 2012. Xiao Sheng who is a post doctoral student at the EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) Microsystems Laboratory in Switzerland, presented this paper at the IEEE conference, and is confident that it will be widely adapted in the medical field. Especially in developing countries, such low-cost paper diagnostic systems are already being tried, and could prove a cost-effective solution.

Harshad Italiya
Harshad Italiya • Jan 27, 2016
Interesting !
Some nice setup with Bike tyre can illuminate some sort of LEDs for sure. 😀
Harshad Italiya
Interesting !
Some nice setup with Bike tyre can illuminate some sort of LEDs for sure. 😀
But some time gap must be given between each cycle, continuous tapping wont help in this case
Anoop Kumar
Anoop Kumar • Jan 29, 2016
Interesting concept👍
Mass uses might be at distance but definitely a fun project for school.
Akhil C Joy
Akhil C Joy • Jan 31, 2016
Hi all,

I am sure even any of our engineering college will not choose this project at least as a miniproject. Let no one should work on it.

Anyway think on these topics.
Chair with massager.
Light glowing Shoes.
self charging laptop by typing keys. etc.....

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