Equation harvests energy from annoying noises

In a rather unusual bid to recycle ‘junk’, a team of researchers has looked to some unlikely sources of energy. Rather than physical objects such as household waste or old TVs, a team at the University of Buffalo is turning to unpleasant noises that plague our days.

Road vibrations and the vast noise of airport runways could be used, says the team, as sources of energy to provide useful power.

As well as road vibrations, if they can even manage to harness the considerable energy that comes from the mouth of the average London cabby they will certainly be onto a winner.

The researchers believe that they can harvest the untapped energy, and eventually manage to channel it through electric circuitry.

The big idea is based on some mathematical equations that the team has thought up, largely surrounding Hertz’s law.

That’s energy moving through a chain of equally sized spherical particles which are in contact with each other.

Normally, by exerting a force on the first sphere, energy passes through the spheres as a compact bundle of energy, between three to five particles wide according to Hertz’s Law.

By changing the shape of the contact areas, the researchers hope to gain greater control over the way the energy travels through the particles.

By “tweaking force propagation” between the particle, it could be possible to slow or even hold down energy as it moves across space.

Or so the theory goes. This is very much at the drawing board, though the scientists are confident of its success, with Surajit Sen claiming that “mathematically, it’s correct. We have proven it.”

But if it’s to work, it could be possible to have chips that can harvest energy from unconventional source.

Or as Sen says: “You give me noise, I give you organised bundles.”