The age of wearable devices is upon us. Soon, we may be able to power these devices with our bodies. Engineering researchers at Michigan State University funded by the National Science Foundation have been working the premise of human powered batteries.
Project Lead and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Nelson Sepulveda and his research team have created the FENG nanogenerator, a thin, film-like flexible device that, when folded, creates power.
“Nelson Sepulveda and his research team have created the FENG, a thin, film-like flexible device that, when folded, creates power.”
By utilizing repeated non-strenuous tapping and pressing movements, the research team was able to successfully operate a 20 LED light bank, LCD display and soft keyboard all without a battery. Previously, Edgy Labs has written about the possibility of powering a smartphone with this technology. Check out the link in the next section.
FENG Nanogenerator Design Specs
The self-powered device is called a biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerator (FENG). With the consistency of a Silicon wafer, the device is composed of ionized sheets of silver, polyimide and polypropylene ferroelectret. Each layer consists of charged particles (ions, atoms, etc). The film generates electricity when folded.The self-powered device is called a biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerator (FENG)Click To Tweet
Squeezing, compressing, and interacting with the device using human motion generates energy. Power increases as the device is folded. The smaller you can fold it, the more powerful the device becomes. The FENG offers simple and environmentally friendly energy from a thin, compact design that can power a number of applications and devices.
Implications of FENG use
As highlighted by Mr. Henion, “Advantages such as being lightweight, flexible, biocompatible, scalable, low-cost and robust” will equate to a more viable and efficient alternative to current mechanical energy harvesting techniques and technologies. Another huge benefit will help to leverage untapped human impact using relatively readily available materials with low environmental impact.