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.
An American astronaut and two Russians who carried a Sochi Olympic torch into open space landed safely and on time on Tuesday in Kazakhstan
Elephants can tell whether a human poses a threat by listening to his voice and sussing out subtle clues about his age, gender and ethnicity, according to a study
Scientists had to abseil and scubadive to get into the caves, some of which are around 50 metres deep (165 feet). They found wall paintings and bone fragments left by the indigenous Kawesqar people that could help date the caves.
Asteroids have broken apart many times over the eons, but never before have scientists been able to witness it.
Should these ships become a reality, a total of 44% of expenses could be cut from operating cargo ships, according to industry consultant Moore Stephens LLP.
Earthuquake lights sometimes appear in the sky before an earthquake takes place and are often mistaken for UFOs.
Remains of the new species were unearthed in Portugal by an amateur fossil hunter in 2003 in the rock cliffs of Lourinhã
The females of an Asian swallowtail butterfly species known as the Common Mormon often mimic the appearance of another species of butterfly that is toxic for predators to eat
Scientists from Turkey designed 'the smart infrared cameras' to deal with dense fog related flight delays which cause thousands of flights to be postponed or cancelled each year.
Artificial muscles can bear 117 times more than natural muscles.
Scientific works by students aged between 11 and 15 in invention and design categories will take part in the olympiad.
GCHQ collected images from the webcam chats of more than 1.8 million users globally in a six-month period in 2008 alone
NASA'a Kelper telescope has discovered 715 new planets outside of our solar system.
The vault, which was designed to withstand all disasters, was opened in 2008 in order to store an adequate amount of seeds which would enable the human species to revive lost crops in the event of global disaster.
A cybersecurity firm said that it uncovered stolen credentials from some 360 million accounts that are available for sale on cyber black markets
NASA says about 100 tons of material from space enter Earth's atmosphere every day. The moon, with no protective atmosphere, is fair game for celestial pot-shots