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Biotech Science

Harvesting Energy from the Human Body 160

Late-Eight writes "Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology are working on a new type of nanogenerator that could draw necessary energy from flowing blood in the human body. The hope is to incorporate the new nanogenerator into biosensors, environmental monitoring devices and even personal electronics that will require no fuel source, internal or external. Once completed, this new cellular engine could find various applications, even beyond medicine."
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Harvesting Energy from the Human Body

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  • by Eddi3 ( 1046882 ) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @10:46AM (#19945849) Homepage Journal
    You seem to feel very confident in saying that, However that's exactly what I'm wondering: Is is negligible? Really?

    I just think we should be sure about it first.
  • Desperate? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ynososiduts ( 1064782 ) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @11:00AM (#19945955)
    Are people that desperate to have their smartphone on at all times that they need to harvest the energy their heart generates to power it? Maybe that's a little drastic, but they mentioned personal electronics. Do people really need to have their devices charged by blood flow? I understand pacemakers or things of that nature because they keep you alive. If it isn't necessary, why POWER it with YOUR HEART? The fact that people even thought that is a little appalling.
  • Just remember that a food calorie is actuall a kilocalorie. Assuming you made that mistake (maybe you didn't), that means you need 1/4000th of a gram of sugar. Excellent weight-loss program indeed! (OTOH, one could imagine a whole fleet of these in your system. It'd still have to be a pretty big fleet for it to matter too much.)
  • Skin Contact (Score:4, Insightful)

    by notanatheist ( 581086 ) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @11:30AM (#19946113) Homepage
    Surely this can be done from outside the body. A couple pods taped to the right places and wired to a charger of some sort should be adequate. I used to have issues with my bicycle computer (cyclometer) when I kept in in my pocket. Typically the material in the pocket isn't that thick and the contact points on the bottom of the unit would be close to my leg. Occasionally I'd pull it out and it'd be giving me erratic reading like I was going 70mph though I wasn't on my bike. Since then I no longer keep the cyclometer in my pocket so as not to skew my averages when I'm tracking my rides.
  • No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nsayer ( 86181 ) * <nsayer@@@kfu...com> on Sunday July 22, 2007 @12:14PM (#19946413) Homepage
    In the past, the idea of harvesting energy from living tissue has centered on chemical reactions - attempting to use the glucose in the bloodstream or what not. That's fine (so long as it can be done safely), because the systems that regulate glucose availability probably have the overhead capacity to spare (at least by comparison). But when you talk about tapping the bloodstream's KE, I start to get nervous, because then you're talking about the heart. That's where the energy you're tapping is going to come from. When your heart wears out, you're more or less done. I'm already doing enough bad things to my heart (vis diet and exercise) - I don't want to make it work any harder.

  • by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @12:33PM (#19946535)
    People have artificial devices implanted all the time without worrying about infections and clots. Some of them are even in the circulatory system, such as permanent pacemakers, tissue artificial valves, metal artificial valves (in which you do worry about clots), and vena cava filters.

    Having something in the venous system, like a vena cava filter, may be relatively safe and still produce usable energy. Other places that are not in the circulatory system that might still be used to produce energy may be something attached to the diaphragm or other muscle and produce energy while the muscle is contracting.
  • Re:No thanks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SkyFalling ( 1115231 ) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @04:09PM (#19948091)
    If you're not getting enough exercise, making your heart work harder is *exactly* what you should be doing. The heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger the more you use it. Consider making an analogous statement about skeletal muscles such as those in your arms, and see how ridiculous it sounds.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22, 2007 @05:57PM (#19948877)
    HFCS has nothing to do with clogging blood vessels. You're thinking of cholesterol, which means fats, not sugars.

    Lots of HFCS may well be bad for you -- but then, lots of any other kind of sugar is bad for you, too. The problem here is excess and bad nutrition, not evil companies selling you poison.

    (Not that I expect a voice of reason to have the slightest impact on foodie trolls.)

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