Do know That The Power Source That Never Runs Out? The moving parts in humans are complex machines that bend, squish, stretch, flow, quiver, and beat. Scientists are now utilizing these energy sources to address the dreaded flat battery issue that affects sensors, wearables, and implanted medical equipment.
Researchers have found that the human body itself might be a useful power source, just in time to power the rising industry in wearables. Devices that are self-powered by design could be the answer. More individuals will rely on medical devices like implanted pacemakers and electro-stimulators to keep healthy as “electroceuticals” begin to compete with drugs in medicine.
These gadgets could become energy-autonomous through the use of “biobatteries” and energy scavenging, eliminating the need for invasive surgery to replace dead batteries. Additionally, in a wireless world, implanted charging cords wouldn’t come loose or get infected, two issues that are all too frequent in the present day.
Since the early 2000s, scientists have been developing body-powered technology; however, up until recently, the technology was too energy-hungry for the meager amounts of electricity that humans can produce. But after two decades of technological development, today’s gadgets use incredibly little energy, opening the door to a plethora of concepts and prototypes that harness the power of the populace.
The Power Source That Never Runs Out
a powerful mobile device
In a sense, your cells are metabolic batteries that turn sugary fuel into energy. CELTRO, a German startup, is deploying arrays of microneedles to collect minute quantities of energy from millions of cells in order to tap into this living power source. A tiny autonomous pacemaker will be CELTRO’s initial offering. According to CEO and cofounder Gerd Teepe, “a muscular contraction, like the heart, originates at one spot and then propagates over the entire heart muscle.” “Our plan was to harness this avalanche effect by harvesting energy at various spots.” The multifunctional microneedles plug into cardiac tissue to monitor the heart and, if necessary, offer a helpful electrical boost to restore rhythm in addition to harvesting energy. CELTRO raised seed money for lab-based proof of concept in 2021.
BeFC, a French firm, manufactures biobatteries that are environmentally friendly. Layers of carbon, cellulose, and glucose are used in its fuel cell, along with a few special enzymes. A fluid, like blood or urine, can be added to start a chemical reaction that produces electricity. The paper patches might be used to power both continuous monitoring sensors and single-use diagnostic tools, such as glucose monitoring kits for diabetics. Unlike other small batteries that are eventually thrown away or burned, the cells can even be composted after being used. BBFC is currently seeking Series A funding and plans to launch its first goods in 2024.
My quivering heart
A pacemaker that is driven by the heart itself is being developed by the Paris-based CARDIAC. Its lead-free pacemaker is housed inside a capsule that also houses a piezoelectric energy harvester, which swings a pendulum in response to vibrations, heartbeats, and blood flow. Until the device detects that the heart needs a shock to restore the rhythm, the oscillations are turned into electricity and stored. The business recently secured Series A funding in the amount of €17 million (about $18.3 million) to further preclinical research and begin human trials.
Solar panels are increasingly ubiquitous in homes, and they might soon also be illuminating medical technology. An ultra-low consumption sensor may be powered by a solar panel inserted beneath the skin, which nevertheless produces up to 10% as much electricity as one in direct sunlight, according to Monash University researchers in Melbourne, Australia. An implantable temperature sensor can be powered for 24 hours by a few hours in the sun, and the optimal location, according to the researchers, is between the neck and the shoulder.
The hydroelectric heart
According to scientists at the University of Bern in Switzerland, little turbines might capture blood flow and convert it to electricity. They have created a torpedo-shaped turbine that could be inserted into a blood vessel in the heart and use blood flow to generate electricity, much like a hydroelectric power plant. A significant difficulty that has not yet been resolved is how to prevent blood clots from forming on the turbine’s blades, although in lab simulations, the turbine produced enough energy to run leadless pacemakers that are now available on the market.
An ultra-thin piezoelectric skin patch that can simultaneously sense movements and generate power has been developed, claims Italian firm PiezoSkin. However, the company’s biocompatible film might also harvest electricity from other bodily movements and vibrations for sensors and wearables. In one trial, it utilized the patch to track neck movements in persons with dysphagia, or trouble swallowing.
According to Swiss firm Mithras, humans emit about 100 watts of thermal energy every day and using this heat to power wearable biosensors and even implanted devices could be possible. Its TEGs, or thermoelectric generators, use the temperature difference between the body and the surroundings to generate power. According to Mithras, a 12-square-centimeter TEG skin patch could fully power a cochlear implant with a 5-degree Celsius temperature difference.