From generating energy under braking with the F1's KERS (kinetic energy recovery system), soon even tires will also be capable of generating power from simply 'rolling' around.
Called the Energy Harvester, the technology was created by Falken Tires' parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries together with Professor Hiroshi Tani of Kansai University. Simply put, the Energy Harvester is a small device housed inside a tire which converts static electricity usually generated from driving into useable energy.
Specifically, it works by using two layers of rubber which are covered by an electrode along with negatively and positively charged films. When the tires deform from rotation, the static electricity is then harnessed into useable energy. While it is relatively easy to understand on paper, there is surely a lot more technology that goes into it.
At the moment, engineers say that the Energy Harvester could be used power small things such as tire pressure sensors without needing batteries. However, it is still uncertain what else would the device be capable of powering.
At the moment there is no word as to when the Energy Harvester will be available on the market as development is still on-going. However, the research has been selected by the Japan Science and Technology Agency as a “Type FS* Seed Project under A-STEP (Adaptable and Seamless Technology Transfer Program through Target-Driven R&D)”.
With the Japan Science and Technology Agency behind Sumitomo, it might not be long before we see the Energy Harvester in production and fully operational. Hopefully, the final product can power something more than just a tire pressure sensor.