PARIS – Biomechanical energy harvesting from human motion offers a promising clean alternative to electrical power supplied by batteries for mobile electronic devices.
Energy harvesting is the use of ambient energy to provide electricity for small and mobile equipment, whether electrical or electronic. Four main ambient energy sources are present in our environment: mechanical energy (vibrations, deformations), thermal energy (temperature gradients or variations), radiant energy (sun, infrared, RF) and chemical energy (chemistry, biochemistry).
In a recent report, titled "Energy Harvesting in Action -2012", market researcher IDTechEX noted that $700 million was spent on the energy harvesting component itself in 2011, rising to just under $5 billion in 2022.
The proliferation of mobile electronic devices has resulted in the development of new power sources. One alternative is human power, which has the advantages of being always available, requiring no chemical fuel or logistical measures.
Indeed, the human body is very flexible in generating applicable power from sources of heat dissipation, joint rotation, enforcement of body weight, vertical displacement of mass centers, as well as elastic deformation of tissues and other attachments. This opens up opportunities for harvesting energy to power mobile or implantable medical devices which could be used for a long time or be recharged permanently.
What follows are ten different human motion energy harvesting devices and technologies, in different stages of prototyping and application.