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How the Human Body Can Energize Our Power Grid

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The average human at rest can produce around 100 watts of power! 

According to Forbes, Turning Body Heat into Electricity”, 100 watts is enough to power many of the electronics you use, such as your cellphone (about 1 watt) and your laptop (45 watts). With the right technology, the human body can become an important source for generating energy. In this blog, we share how entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists around the world have made challenging discoveries and inventions that demonstrate how the human body is resourceful, powerful, and electrifying. 

Body Movement

Who would have guessed that dancing can literally light up the world? Energy Floors is a Dutch company that created Energy Generating Dance Floors, first installed at a Netherland’s nightclub in the city of Rotterdam in 2008. The concept is simple, people’s dance moves create energy, and the harder people groove on the dance floor, the more energy that gets produced. Below we share a CNBC video about this interesting construction with Michel Smit, the CEO of Energy Floors: 

According to CNBC, the company has developed a range of products all designed to generate power from people's movement. In the near future, we could see these floors in malls, airports and sports arenas, lighting up our buildings one step at a time. 

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Body Heat

Engineers in Sweden have figured out how to use body heat generated by the 250,000 commuters at Stockholm’s Central Station to power and heat up a building across the street from the station. Time’s article, “Body Heat: Sweden’s New Green Energy Source” explains how it works:

“The heat generated by the commuters is captured by the station's ventilation system and used to warm water in underground tanks. The water is then pumped through pipes to the 13-story Kungbrohuset office building about 100 yards away, where it is incorporated into the main heating system.”
 

With its cold winter temperatures and high energy costs, this development has proven to be efficient and inexpensive for Stockholm.  

The Mall of America in the state of Minnesota is another building that maintains warm temperatures with the body heat of its 40 million annual visitors, and with the help of lighting and solar panels. An article by the Minnesota Connected, “Did You Know… The Mall of America Has No Central Heating?” informed that the mall’s 4.2 million square feet consistently remain at an average of 70 degrees all year long since it opened in 1992.  

 
 
 

Human Respiratory

Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Xudong Wang (right), postdoctoral researcher Chengliang Sun and graduate student Jian Shi (left)

Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Xudong Wang (right), postdoctoral researcher Chengliang Sun and graduate student Jian Shi (left)

A couple of engineers from the University of Wisconsin have figured out a way to create power from human respiratory. The two engineers in the image to the right created a Microbelt that vibrates and generates electricity from breathing. Professor Wang (right) explained that “small vibrations could produce a microwatt of electrical energy that could be useful for sensors or other devices implanted in the face.” (From The Science Daily, “Electricity from the nose: Engineers make power from human respiration.” ) According to the Science Daily,

“The same piezoelectric effect that ignites your gas grill with the push of a button could one day power sensors in your body via the respiration in your nose”.

Perhaps these engineers are getting closer to developing the right technology for the Aire Mask concept, a mask that could potentially charge iPhones solely from human breathing. The mask could be worn while walking, running, and even sleeping, as our lungs provide the power for our mobile devices to charge. Joco Paulo Lammoglia, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is the inventor of the Aire Mask.  According to the Huffington Post, “AIRE, Conceptual Mask, Would Charge iPhone With Your Breath” his concerns about the environment are the motivation for developing concepts like the Aire Mask. The technology for this invention is still in progress, but for our scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs around the world, it is only a matter of time. Below we share images of the Aire Mask from the Huffington Post: 

 
 

One can feel powerful after realizing that an individual human body can produce electricity from simply breathing or dancing. Not to mention the capabilities humans have as a group of lighting and warming up an entire building. Energy is not only all around us, but within us, and we have yet to discover the electrifying secrets of this universe. 

If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.
— NIKOLA TESLA
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Author: Lesli Del Rio   Client Services: ARETE

 
 

Reference List:

  1. Forbes: "Turning Body Heat Into Electricity" :  https://www.forbes.com/2010/06/07/nanotech-body-heat-technology-breakthroughs-devices.html
  2. CNBC: "Boogie Nights: How dancing can save the world" :  https://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/30/boogie-nights-how-dancing-can-save-the-world.html
  3. Time: "Body Heat: Sweden's New Green Energy Source" :  http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1981919,00.html
  4. Minnesota Connected: "Did You Know… The Mall of America Has No Central Heating?" :  http://minnesotaconnected.com/lifestyle/local-businesses/did-you-know-the-mall-of-america-has-no-central-heating_178620/
  5. Science Daily: "Electricity from the nose: Engineers make power from human respiration" :  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111003234642.htm
  6. Perspective: "Take a deep breath. You could generate electricity … with your nose" :  http://perspective.engr.wisc.edu/2012/04/take-a-deep-breath-you-could-generate-electricity-with-your-nose/
  7. Huffington Post: "AIRE, Conceptual Mask, Would Charge iPhone With Your Breath (IMAGES)" :  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/aire-mask-charges-breath_n_1383868.html?slideshow=true