World Bulletin / News Desk
British scientists have built a novel device that converts body movement into electricity capable of powering small gadgets such as GPS trackers.
The device, unveiled this week in the July issue of the journal Smart Materials and Structures, is designed to be worn on the knee and harnesses the energy produced by walking.
The journal said it could be used by the military to reduce the number of heavy batteries -- each weighing up to 10 kg (20 lb) -- that soldiers carry on foot patrol.
It was created by researchers at the Universities of Cranfield, Liverpool and Salford, originally with funding from the UK Ministry of Defence. The researchers estimate it could retail for 10 pounds ($16) if produced on an industrial scale.
The "energy harvester" is based on so-called piezoelectric materials that have long been used in sonar sensors and ultrasound scanners and have become the focus of energy generation research in recent years.
Scientists at Princeton University and the California Institute of Technology used a similar technology two years ago to develop electricity-generating rubber sheets.
The novelty of the British device is the way it uses the body's movements to generate power.
An outer ring that rotates as the knee joint moves is fitted with 72 plectra that in turn move four energy-generating arms called bimorphs attached to an inner hub. The vibration generates the electricity.
Michele Pozzi, who led the development project, said researchers were looking at ways to make the device cheaper and more portable.
"There is an on-going project looking at manufacturing a more compact and truly wearable harvester," the journal's website quoted Pozzi as saying. "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."
At the moment, the piece can harvest about two milliwatts of power but the researchers believe this could exceed 30 milliwatts with a few enhancements, enough for the latest GPS tracking devices.
The gadget could also have uses in medical monitoring devices, he said.
Spanish news publishers want government to negotiate with Google.
The Russian space station Mir, launched by the Soviet Union in 1986, operated until 2001 and President Vladimir Putin is now seeking to reform Russia's once-pioneering space industry
Google's action caps a decade of acrimony with news publishers who blame the search giant for revenue and readership declines
Top climate envoy gives broad support for global deal but says country's "special circumstances" must be factored.
Finnish cyber-security expert tells Istanbul audience that people have made gigantic IT companies billions in profits by providing private data for services.
The scientific observation of Pluto, its entourage of moons and other bodies in the solar system's frozen backyard begins Jan. 15
For the first time in more than 40 years, NASA has launched a spaceship designed to carry astronauts far beyond Earth
Benefits of digital revolution outweigh risks, Germany’s Chancellor says
Last month, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to make climate change a top priority when Turkey hosts next year’s G20 summit
The emails of Apple’s late CEO is being used as evidence in antitrust claim.
The report said the malware overrides data on hard drives of computers and can make them inoperable and shut down networks.
Among those hit were the London newspapers Daily Telegraph, Independent and Evening Standard, which reported that other news organisations had also been targeted.
The European Union's privacy watchdogs agreed on a set of guidelines to help them implement a ruling from Europe's supreme court that gives people the right to ask search engines to remove personal information
Iraq bars private companies from owning fixed networks transiting domestic data and anything they build is usually seized by the government.
The new crew faces a busy six months in orbit, including a trio of spacewalks to prepare the station for a new fleet of U.S. commercial space taxis