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Power Science

Body Heat Energy Generation 214

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'm-sweating-right-now dept.
BuzzSkyline writes "Researchers in Belgium have developed devices to harvest the waste heat our bodies throw off in order to convert it to electricity to run devices such as a wristband blood oxygen sensor and an electrocardiogram shirt. As a side benefit, the power sources help cool you down and keep you looking cool, all while running sundry micropower devices. In fact, the researchers mention that the energy harvesting head band works so well that it can get uncomfortably cold. In that case, they say, 'This problem is solved in exactly the same way as someone solves it on the body level in cold weather: a headgear should be worn on top of the system to limit the heat flow and make it comfortable.' But it would be such a shame to cover up the golden heat-harvesting headband with a hat."
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Body Heat Energy Generation

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  • uh oh (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:56AM (#30535152)

    The matrix is coming......

  • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:57AM (#30535170) Journal

    What's next? A body-movement powered (or better, heat & movement hybrid power), fully functional stillsuit?

  • Screw that (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:59AM (#30535210)
    You're wasting the real potential of this thing. I live in an area that gets hot as hell in the summer. If it really does get "uncomfortably cold," I'd pay good money for a whole suit made of the stuff.
  • Re:Cold? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:04AM (#30535244)
    It feels cold because it's sucking heat out and using it. So it's constantly leaching heat out. Hence it would feel cold. Simple, really.
  • Re:Cold? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:07AM (#30535286) Homepage

    Those of us who descended from the mammalian evolutionary tree, keep our bodies warmer than ambient temperatures.

  • Free Energy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lobiusmoop (305328) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:11AM (#30535338) Homepage

    FTFA:
    "Imagine portable electronics that run on a free, reliable energy source."

    Um, I'm already practically there. I can get a KWh out of the wall for 5p (10c), charge up an iPhone from dead to full for a quarter (5KWh battery capacity there) and can get as many cheap chargers as I like. On my list of concerns right now, body-heat chargers are pretty far down.

  • Re:Free Energy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:26AM (#30535490)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_(electricity)#Rechargeable_battery_chemistries [wikipedia.org]

    I'd love to know where you get 5 kWh from an iPhone battery. Li-Ion batteries have an energy density of 128 Wh/kg, so your iPhone battery must weigh 39 kg.

    Granted, a 5 kWh Li-Ion battery will cost a fortune, so for something of that capacity, you're more likely to use a lead-acid battery of car/alarm/emergency light fame. That battery would weigh 129 kg. My brother-in-law has an iPhone; I'll ask him if it came with a dolly for the battery.

    Now, it would make more sense if that was a 5 Wh battery; then we're talking about 39 grams, which is probably a bit easier to carry around. And your charging cost is down to 0.005p, but will likely be a good deal higher due to energy loss.

  • Re:Cold? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:29AM (#30535512) Journal

    It's not sucking heat out, that would actually require extra energy input. It's not a pump, it's more like a water wheel.

    But my question has been answered. It doesn't get below ambient temperature. We just don't feel ambient temperature as cold as it actually is, because air is a pretty good insulator.

  • Re:Screw that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @12:43PM (#30536206) Homepage

    Right, that's the problem.. you can't "harvest" heat unless you have a significant temperature differential, and a 20F difference (~95 to ~75) is laughable.

    Also, I question the idea of "waste" heat. The body heats itself enough to keep the extremities functional, and little beyond that. Making the body work harder could potentially result in hypothermia, although it could also result in a higher "resting" metabolic rate, so it really depends on whether or not the user has extra calories to spare.

    There are already better/more efficient ways to convert the body's energy into electrical power; namely hand cranks. They're not passive, but they also don't require constant use, they can potentially provide *far* more power, and they don't require ideal environmental conditions to operate.

  • Re:Screw that (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yurtinus (1590157) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @01:17PM (#30536626)

    Given tthat it's coming from a country where the diet consists of chocolate, beer, waffles (with chocolate on) and fries (with mayonnaise) I'd say they aren't exactly anorexic.

    Interested in losing weight without changing your diet? Boy have I got the product for you! The HeadFlex 3000 will burn calories while you go about your day, no exercise needed, and power your iPod, cell phone, or portable dialysis unit! Just strap it on, plug it in, and burn those calories!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @01:27PM (#30536712)

    Sounds like a vague prelude to some crazy scientology rant. Don't go down that rabbit hole, pal.

  • Re:Screw that (Score:2, Insightful)

    by interploy (1387145) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @01:40PM (#30536824)

    Also, I question the idea of "waste" heat. Making the body work harder could potentially result in hypothermia, although it could also result in a higher "resting" metabolic rate, so it really depends on whether or not the user has extra calories to spare.

    I question your relative activity level. Have you ever shoveled a driveway clear of snow? I can go out in 10F in coat/gloves/hat/scarf and have to strip down to just a sweatshirt inside of thirty minutes. I give off so much heat that my clothes are literally steaming. You're talking as if the body has a finite amount of heat to give, but that's not the case. The heat output is equivalent to the amount of energy expended. If this thing can't power a gameboy, there's no way it can sap so much heat it risks giving someone hypothermia. To do that, it'd not only have to be able to harvest more heat than the body can produce at any given level, it'd have be able to do it over an extended period of time and without the user noticing he/she's freezing.

  • Re:uh oh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @02:02PM (#30537092)

    Good day, young lads! :)
     
    This is ac's mother, Shirleena. What this man says is true & I love him for it. Coppertop.

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

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