New technologies are aiming to replace batteries by harnessing the use of an individual’s own body heat as a source to power biomedical devices like pacemakers and heart-rate monitors.
This idea is loosely based on the static electricity theory whereby one can prolong an alkaline battery by rubbing it in their hands, but in this technology the kinetic energy and the actual rubbing of the hands would be the source scientists are tapping into.
The research proves that the human body as a warm object is also a capable source of energy that can be harnessed to power a cell phone, a pacemaker or any other battery operated device.
The research was listed as a top 10 ‘green idea that can save the planet’ in Toronto’s NowMagazine March 2010 ‘green issue’ but the idea is not a new one, two years ago Berkley Lab expressed an interest in capturing body heat loss and making it into a useable efficient one.
The normal core body temperature of a normal healthy adult at rest is stated to be at 98.6 degrees fahrenheit (or 37.0 degrees celsius, or 310 kelvin).
Our body temperature is fairly consistent but varies slightly due to metabolism whereby the temperature is lower in the early morning due to sleep and rest and higher at night from food intake and the use of the muscles from routine daily physical activity.
This body-generated thermal energy can produce about 100 microwatts, but researchers are developing an apparatus and microchip that may be able to amplify the charge, store or serve as thermal control in order to drive a microelectronic device.
‘..at MIT researchers from Texas Instruments have made a breakthrough in small scale energy efficiency that could also impact on the use of human body heat as an energy source. The new chip design incorporates circuits that work at a voltage level much lower than usual ..as well as extending the operationg duration of portable devices on a single battery charge, it is hoped that the energy-efficient microchip may be efficient enough to run implantable medical devices using ambient energy from the human body heat as its power source.’ Sourced: Gizmag
The research technology for measuring and calibrating the instrumentation of a body thermometer originates from the 1970’s. An October 2003 annual report by Ottawa University principal investigator Glen Kenny Ph.D. outlined that the experimental research protocol for such technologies was developed for validation and submitted to the DRDC Toronto and the University of Ottawa Human Research Ethics Committee and approved.
Today, the widespread use of mobile devices and new mobile technologies seem to have triggered more research in the field of muscle tissue heat generation during exercise so that non-evasive low voltage personal electronic devices for music and cell phones can be used with a smarter, more efficient and eco-friendly source of power: our own bodies.