Could Toilet Flushes Help Power Our Homes?

CC BY 2.0. nicolasnova

Composting toilets may be the greenest way to "go," but the next best thing might be having toilets that can generate electricity to help power our homes each time we flush.

A new technology developed by researchers at Seoul National University and Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI) is capable of generating electricity from the water that flows through a toilet, making flushes a source of electricity.

The technology takes advantage of a property in dieletric materials where they develop an electric charge when put into water. Scientists from Seoul National University and Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI) adapted a transducer to convert the mechanical energy from water motion into electrical energy. The active capacitive-transducer technology consists of several layers wrapped around patterned transparent electrodes.

Chemistry World reports that researchers found that just a single water droplet was enough to generate electricity to power a green LED.

The electrodes are flexible and transparent which means they could coat windows, roofs and even toilet bowls, to generate electricity from raindrops and water flow. Larger devices using the technology could also be placed in rivers and streams.

"The researchers have taken advantage of the contact electrification between a polymer and water droplets in motion to design a simple energy harvester,’ says Andreas Menzel, who develops semiconducting nanodevices at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "There is plenty of water motion like rain, sea waves or wastewater, in our environment where these kinds of power generators can find application."

You can watch a video about the technology below.