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This New Device Could Turn Your Sweat Into Electricity

Source : indianexpress

Scientists have developed a gadget that generates electricity by harvesting sweat from your fingertip, and you don’t even have to move a finger to use it. It can even work when you are sleeping or sitting still.

The flexible, thin strip wraps like a Band-Aid around the tip of a finger. It then transforms molecules present in human perspiration into tiny quantities of electrical energy. Because sweat is continually produced by the user’s fingers, the gadget may function without the wearer having to move a muscle.

How does this technology work?

The sweat glands on the tips of your fingers, which number in the thousands, can produce 100 to 1,000 times more sweat than the rest of your body. However, because perspiration evaporates very immediately off fingertips, determining how sweaty they are can be difficult. So this ingenious device scoops it up before it can reach it.

Scientists designed this device to be very absorbent. A carbon foam electrode padding absorbs and converts sweat into energy initially. Then, the enzymes in the electrodes cause chemical interactions between lactate and oxygen molecules in sweat, which create electricity. Below the electrodes is a piezoelectric chip that generates additional energy when pushed.

A small capacitor stores the electrical energy as the wearer sweats or presses on it. It can then be released into the environment to provide power to low-power devices. While sleeping for 10 hours with the device on a fingertip, the wearable absorbed 400 millijoules of energy, enough to power an electronic timepiece for 24 hours (but not a smartwatch). Experts believe that connecting devices to more fingertips would generate significantly more energy. 

The goal of this sweat-powered technology :

The goal of this project is to utilize the sweat generated in fingertips said, Joseph Wang.  He is a professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego and co-author of a paper describing the published Tuesday device in the journal Joule.

Source: newscientist

Wearable gadgets that are self-powering and rely on bioenergy harvesters are infamous for consuming a lot of energy. But, according to research co-author Lu Yin, this gadget is “a step ahead in making wearables more practical, simple, and accessible for the common person”. It does not require any physical input from the user.

Researchers at UC San Diego previously experimented on temporary tattoos that convert perspiration into energy. While the new device may generate electricity, it’s not yet time to ditch your tangled wires and fussy electrical outlets. Preferably, the gadget may power low-power devices in the milliwatt range, such as a wristwatch.

Unfortunately, the researchers believe that it is not yet suitable for continuously powering high-performance gadgets such as smartphones. “We aim to make this a practical device,” Yin explained. “We want to show that this isn’t just another beautiful gadget that creates a small amount of energy and then vanishes; this finds use as energy to power important equipment like sensors and displays.”

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