PARIS – Aerospace engineers said they are developing a device that can harvest the energy of human heart to power pacemakers.
Researchers from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan claimed that they have designed a device that harvests energy from the reverberation of heartbeats through the chest and converts it to electricity to run a pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator. These mini-medical machines send electrical signals to the heart to keep it beating in a healthy rhythm.
Dan Inman, Department chair of Aerospace Engineering, said: "Medical costs are really high, and pacemaker-dependent people have to have an operation every seven years. If the patient is 2 years old, that's perhaps ten times in their lifetime to have open-heart surgery."
Inman continued: "We created a device that harvests energy inside the body and can be used to run a pacemaker instead of relying on battery replacements, which occur every seven to ten years."
No prototype has been built yet, but researchers claimed that they "made detailed blueprints and run simulations" that prove the feasibility of the idea. The design includes a hundredth-of-an-inch thin slice of a piezoelectric ceramic material would move with heartbeat vibrations and convert the energy into electrical energy.
Researchers said they have engineered the ceramic layer to a shape that can harvest vibrations across a broad range of frequencies. In addition the design includes integrated magnets used to increase the electric signal that results from the vibrations.
The power generated by the energy harvester would be more than 10 times the power required by the pacemaker, researchers claimed and proves that piezoelectric energy harvesters can be used to continuously power pacemakers and relegate batteries to an emergency back up function.
Originally, the harvester had been designed for light unmanned airplanes where it could generate power from wing vibrations.
Early findings have been presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.
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