June 26, 2008
| by Steven Castle
Want some really energy-efficient electronics? If all goes well, you can someday power your gadgets by dancing, running—or even by the movement of breasts.
Earlier this week, we reported that UK mobile phone operator Orange has teamed up with GotWind, a company specializing in renewable energy, to produce a charger powered by dance energy.
The portable kinetic energy charger weighs the same as a phone and is about the size of a pack of cards. It’s attached to the user’s arm and employs a system of weights and magnets to provide an electric current to charge a storage battery. This can then later be used to recharge the phone. The chargers will be given a test run this weekend at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, a music and arts celebration in England.
Sure, but it’s the breast power you really want to know about, isn’t it? A Slate article examines the possibility of charging portable electronic devices via the energy generated from the movement of breasts while running, for example. Don’t laugh: it’s possible, and apparently the science of breast motion has been studied for years.
It appears that one of the best bets for capturing energy from motion is from Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Tech, who is currently working to develop fabric made from nanowires, the article reports. The nanowires rub against one another and convert the mechanical energy from the friction into an electric charge. A square meter of fiber produces about 80 milliwatts of power. Wang’s team hopes to generate energy-producing T-shirts and other clothing.
There are already Lighting Packs that use the motion from backpacks to produce about 7 watts of power—enough to run an MP3 player, handheld GPS or other gadget. And there are dance floors that convert kinetic energy produced by dancers into power as well.
Perfecting the breast-power bra may be tricky, but I think we are only seeing the beginning of a very cool movement in harnessing kinetic energy.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates