Researchers at UCI have developed a device that harvests enough energy from the human body to continuously power cells phones and other on-body devices.
Converting the natural energy of the human body into usable power has long been a challenge for the biomedical field. This body power, if harvested at sufficient levels (>1 W), can be used to internally power biomedical devices that would otherwise require removal and off-site charging. Typical methods for converting body energy into power rely on thermoelectric effects, which generate power based on the temperature difference between a body and its environment. The efficiency of these devices is limited by the maximum temperature difference, which is generally less than 20°C, confining the output power to the mW range.
To combat the low efficiency of thermoelectric devices, researchers at UCI have instead proposed a device that utilizes the belly motion associated with breathing. As this motion is continuous over a 24-hour period, it provides a constant, sustainable source of energy. In addition to being continuous, belly motion also generates fairly large powers – a typical breath that corresponds to ~1 cm motion generates ~2 W of power. Finally, this device (which can be integrated into a belt) directly converts the kinetic energy of motion into electricity and so is not limited by the same efficiency constraints as thermoelectric devices. In this way, powers of ~1 W are easily attainable. Such a breakthrough in the portable power supply field enables much longer use of on-body electric devices and even cell phones, without the need for external charging sources.
§ Device is simple (can be integrated into standard belts)
§ Based on breathing – continuous and robust source of power
§ Strength of belly motion – generates high power outputs (~2 W)
§ High efficiency power conversion, which yields output power of nearly 1 W
§ Sustains much longer use of cell phones and on-body electric devices.
Proof-of-concept only. After obtaining a temporary patent, the authors will explore the technology and potential investors further.
Future Plans: once the temporary patent in approved, the inventor plans to:
- Talk with potential investors (e.g. COVE funds) for support
- Identify proper personnel to design the prototype and test it