There’s a small Canadian company that wants to transform us into human battery chargers.
Bionic Power Inc (BPI) in Burnaby BC has developed the Biomechanical Energy Harvester, a device that that looks like an orthopedic knee brace. It works on the same principal a hybrid car uses to generate energy during braking.
When walking, we’re constantly speeding up and slowing down (i.e. accelerating and decelerating). By fitting the knee brace with a generator, the researchers at BPI have found a way to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy whenever the swing of the leg slows.
Although still under development, the early results are promising. Walking at a normal pace, volunteers have been able to generate about 5 watts of energy- enough to power 10 cell phones.
Commercial production is at least a year away. Potential markets are military and medical applications, as well as consumer products (iPods, MP3 players, etc).
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