Wednesday 13 December 2017

Gadgets could run on knee power

Scientists have tested an 'energy harvester' that could be connected to knees
Scientists have tested an 'energy harvester' that could be connected to knees

Wearable electronic gadgets could in future be powered by people's knees, a study has shown.

Scientists have tested an "energy harvester" electricity generator designed to be strapped to the knee.

Walking motion causes plectrum-like tabs within the device to "pluck" energy generating arms, causing vibrations that produce electrical current.

So far researchers have only been able to generate a tiny two milliwatts of power, but improvements are expected to yield more than 30 milliwatts.

Foot-slogging soldiers may find the knee generator useful since they often have to carry up to 10 kilos of power equipment, say the scientists.

The device was tested on a knee motion simulator that reproduced the gait of a walking human.

Dr Michael Pozzi, from Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, whose work appears in the journal Smart Materials and Structures, said: "There is an on-going project looking at manufacturing a more compact and truly wearable harvester.

"At the moment we are using precise but cost-effective manufacturing techniques for the plectra and casing and anticipate that remaining parts will be moulded industrially, slashing the cost.

"I'd put a cost tag of less than £10 for each harvester on a large-scale production."

Press Association

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