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Loofah as a green energy source?  Why not, researchers say

Loofah as a green energy source? Why not, researchers say

Natural sponges derived from loofah are very popular for facial and body cleansing and exfoliation, or even for home use, but they can also become a new source of green energy. Chinese researchers have been working on this topic, suggesting that these sponges could generate enough electricity to power LED lights.

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Luffa, also spelled loofah or sponge gourd, is a climbing plant frequently found in Asia and Africa, the fruits of which are used as vegetable sponges. But while many scientists are working on solutions to produce energy sustainably, without harming the planet, loofah could be given a new function. New research by researchers at Peking University reveals the full potential of these sponges to generate electricity to power small appliances.

Published in the magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), this work is based on elastic electricity, a physical phenomenon that occurs when certain materials – here the loofah – are subjected to pressure. In the face of this stress, the electroelastic material responds by producing an electrical charge. This is what Chinese researchers experimented with, by modifying the structure of a natural sponge derived from fiber so that it produces enough energy to power light-emitting diodes.

“When a 6-mm-thick section of this sponge was crushed by hand, up to 8 nanoamperes of electricity were generated,” the magazine explains. “This sponge was placed in an electrical circuit equipped with capacitors capable of storing the energy of several shocks, and it was able to power six LEDs.” “For a short time.” new world Which conveys the results of this study. For their part, the researchers are pleased: “The developments we report constitute a model for green and flexible sensors and energy collectors, with the unique advantages of lightness, low cost and complete biodegradability,” as we can read in PNAS.

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It now remains to be seen how much energy can be produced from these sponges, known for their biodegradable nature and benefits for the skin. According to the study, the matter will – at the present time – only involve operating very small electrical appliances. “To charge a mobile phone, you would need a larger piece of loofah sponge, which may not be very practical at the moment. But if someone could make an artificial fiber by mimicking its microscopic structure, chemical properties, and physical properties, we might be able to increase [la quantité d’électricité produite]. “This could inspire other designs,” explained Jianxiang Wang, one of the lead authors of this work, quoted as saying. new world.

If loofah is of interest to scientists today for green energy production, it is far from being the only solution currently being considered. Chinese researchers recently demonstrated a device that produces energy via raindrops, while a team from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) has developed a fully edible rechargeable battery.