Generate Elecricity From Breathing With Microbelt PVDF Device

A tiny microbelt made of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) can produce electricity from human respiration. PVDF accumulates an electrical charge in response to the applied mechanical stress delivered from the low-speed airflow associated with normal human breathing.


(Microbelt PVDF device)

“Basically, we are harvesting mechanical energy from biological systems. The airflow of normal human respiration is typically below about two meters per second,” says [Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Xudong] Wang. “We calculated that if we could make this material thin enough, small vibrations could produce a microwatt of electrical energy that could be useful for sensors or other devices implanted in the face.”

Wang’s team used an ion-etching process to carefully thin material while preserving its piezoelectric properties. With improvements, he believes the thickness can be controlled down to the submicron level. Because PVDF is biocompatible, he says the development represents a significant advance toward creating a practical micro-scale device for harvesting energy from respiration.

Fans of sf great Frank Herbert remember that the stillsuit from his 1965 masterpiece Dune also used the mechanical energy of breathing to generate power to run the suit.

When he had tightened the chest to gain maximum pumping action from the motion of breathing, he had known what he did and why.

The stillsuit also used filt-plugs to capture moisture, but not for energy harvesting.

From PVDF microbelts for harvesting energy from respiration via the University of Wisconsin via MedGadget.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/8/2011)

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