A new backpack device captures the energy generated while walking to charge up your gadgets.

Photo Credit: Zhong Lin Wang, Georgia Tech

Photo Credit: Zhong Lin Wang, Georgia Tech

Our dependence on mobile technology is continuing to grow, which means we need to start finding more efficient ways to charge our gadgets on the go. In fact, by the end of 2014 there will be more mobile devices in the world than people. 

A 2009 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that consumer electronics and communication technologies account for almost 15 percent of residential electricity consumption around the world. This number is expected to double by 2022 and triple by 2030.

To help alleviate some of this consumption, material scientist Zhong Lin Wang and his team at Georgia Institute of Technology designed a backpack that uses kinetic energy to power up your devices while on the go. The backpack, called the TENG, captures the mechanical energy generated through the natural vibration of walking and converts it into electrical energy. The backpack itself is made from sheets of thin, lightweight plastic that interlock in a rhombic grid. 

The TENG is able to generate power as the surface of the plastic sheets touch and separate repeatedly as the user walks. This contact drives electrons back and forth to produce an electric current. 

"The TENG is as efficient as the best electromagnetic generator, and is lighter and smaller than any other electric generators for mechanical energy conversion," said Wang. "The efficiency will only improve with the invention of new advanced materials."

Through tests in the lab, Wang's team found that the backpack could generate enough power to light more than 40 commercial LEDs simultaneously, when the user walks with a load of 2 kilograms.