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Electricity generated from wood flooring could light buildings

Researchers have found a new method of generating electricity from wood flooring that could be used to power a building’s lights.

Piezoelectricity is the electrical charge that is generated by applying pressure to some flexible materials. Wood flooring is rigid, so it does not generate piezoelectricity. However, a team of researchers have found a way to modify wood to make it more springy and elastic. This is achieved with a white rot fungus, which decomposes the chemical lignin and hemicellulose in the wood flooring to make it more springy.

The researchers took a small cube of this altered wood, and when they squashed it repeatedly 500 times, they were able to generate 0.87 volts of electricity, which is enough to power a small sensor. They then linked nine cubes that they sandwiched between thin wood veneer. The researchers kept pressing the wood by hand until they had generated enough electricity to power an LED light bulb.

If this technology can be scaled up, wood flooring made from fungus-altered wood could be installed in commercial buildings. The footfall of workers and visitors could cause the floor to generate enough electricity for the building’s lighting. This would make the buildings more energy efficient.

In the future, people installing wood flooring in their Cheshire and Wirral homes will likely not benefit from this new power-generating flooring technology, as homes typically don’t see enough footfall. However, the technology could benefit busy workplaces based in the region.

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