UK scientists develop ‘energy-harvesting’ wearable devices made from recycled waste

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

Wearable devices could soon be entirely made of recycled waste – and powered by movement – thanks to a novel energy-harvesting concept developed at the University of Surrey. 

Made from used paper wipes and plastic cups, the device is worn like a wristwatch, where it harvests energy from the wearer’s movements. The latest prototype can transmit Morse code, and the team plans to use the technology on smartwatches. 

“It won’t be long until we have to ask ourselves which of the items we own are not connected to the internet,” said Dr Bhaskar Dudem, project lead and research fellow at the University of Surrey Advanced Technology Institute.

 “However, the current internet-of-things (IoT) revolution highlights the simple fact that our planet doesn’t have the raw resources to continue to make these devices which are in such high demand.”

Dr Dudem added that their research shows it is possible to create sustainable technology powered by humans.

UK scientists develop 'energy-harvesting' wearable devices made from recycled waste
University of Surrey

The energy-harvesting wearable devices are powered by materials called Triboelectric Nanogenerators (TENGs)  that become electrically charged when in contact with each other, using static charge to collect energy from movement through a process called electric static induction.

According to the developers, their energy-harvesting wearable device could be a future game-changer for the consumer, security, and medical industries. 

“The core mission of the Advanced Technology Institute is to help build a world where clean energy is available to all,” shared Ravi Silva, director at the University of Surrey ATI.

“Our energy-harvesting technology embodies this key mission, and we stand ready to work with industry to ensure this technology reaches its full potential.”

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.


Subscribe – it's free