Recent development and research by engineers at Princeton University in the US has lead to some predictions, however tongue-in-cheek, that rather than wind or solar power human power may actually be the coming force in renewable technology. The engineers, through their research, developed a unit that could alter the way people power their smaller gadgets. The Princeton team developed a small chip that captures and harnesses our kinetic energy in order to create sufficient energy to provide power for such items and devices as cellular phones, pacemakers and a whole host of other small electronic devices.
The chips itself is made up of a combination of ceramic nanoribbons and rubber, and upon being flexed it will generate electrical energy. In terms of how such a chip can be put to practical, everyday use in our daily lives it could be, for example, embedded into the rubber sole of a shoe and could thus both create and store energy from just the simple action of the wearing your shoes and walking around as part of the normal course of your day. The concomitant energy created and stored would easily be sufficient to keep a cell phone fully powered and charged each day and could easily be applied to other devices as well.
In terms of powering a device such as a pacemaker developers have postulated that the chip could be positioned close to the lungs, which would then create natural power from the muscular movements of normal breathing. This is exciting for pacemaker-wearing patients as the only current method of replacing a spent pacemaker battery is for the patient to undergo another round of surgery. In the new method, the natural and perpetual motion of the lungs would create sufficient kinetic energy to continuously power the device via the new chip, meaning that pacemaker patients would only require one course of surgery for the initial fitting unless a problem was subsequently found with the pacemaker itself. This will surely appeal to patients and healthcare providers and professional alike.
The new chip technology has a number of different possible applications and has many people excited. The Princeton University engineers managed to combine the chip’s materials so that an electric charge is made in the event that pressure is applied to the chip. As a result, it is able to convert roughly 80% of mechanical energy into electrical energy – a much higher energy conversion rate than most other alternative power sources available out there. Also, as a result of the materials used to make the chip there is likely no danger that it would be rejected by the body if implanted for use with internal electrical devices, This, coupled with the sheer number of medical devices requiring power sources, speaks of an exciting near future.
The chip itself is nearly ready for implanting as a medical device as well as having other potential energy generation methods explored, and due to the materials used is not especially expensive to make. Further the production costs expected to come down even more once they are capable of being mass produced, meaning the potential for utilizing our own body’s movement for energy production may be limitless and become readily available to the public sooner than most people may expect.
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