Using Our Bodys’ Energy to Run Devices

The following article might not be directly related to energy storage, but we thought it could be an interesting piece of news. Enjoy!

Scientists are studying how to tap the energy naturally created by people’s bodies—such as heat, sound and movement—to power medical devices without the need to change batteries.

The development, still years from becoming a reality, could spare some of the millions of people with implanted devices like pacemakers from undergoing surgery to replace rundown batteries. Other products, including hearing aids, insulin pumps and pain-management devices, could be made to function without changing batteries, or at least sharply extend their power time. Harnessing the body’s energy also could spur development of innovative medical technologies that could potentially monitor the body’s inner workings.

In an experiment this month, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School demonstrated in guinea pigs that it is possible to use energy produced by the inner ear, which is needed for hearing, to power tiny sensors without interfering with the animals’ functioning. The researchers say the device, which resembles a semiconductor chip, is small enough to be implanted in the ear one day to monitor problems such as ear infections and hearing loss.

Scientists at other labs are trying to capture and convert energy from heart beats, blood flow, lung contractions and arm and leg movements.

Researchers compare the futuristic devices to solar-powered calculators, which work as long as there is sunlight. Some experts expect the first medical devices that tap the body’s energy—known as bioenergy harvesting—could be available within a decade.

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