Wednesday June 26, 2019
Home Lead Story Body Heat Can...

Body Heat Can Be the Source of Power for Wearable Devices

The aim is to create a product that can be mass produced

0
//
Heat
Body Heat Converted Into Electricity Powers Health Sensors. (VOA)

There has been an increasing number of wearable heat technologies that have health sensors as medical tools to track a person’s well-being. Many of these devices need to be charged or are battery-powered.

A handful of researchers want to take batteries out of the equation and instead, use waste body heat and convert that into useful electricity to power sensors.

“The average person is something like an 80-watt LED light bulb,” said Jamie Grunlan, Texas A&M University’s Linda & Ralph Schmidt ’68 Professor in Mechanical Engineering.

Grunlan and his team of researchers are working on using the waste heat the body gives off and converting that into useful electricity. The idea is to create printable, paintable thermoelectric technology that looks like ink and can coat a wearable fabric, similar to dyeing colors onto cloth. Once a person wears the fabric, devices such as health sensors can be powered.

“Our coating coats every fiber within that textile, and so what’s drawing it is simply that textile needs to just be touching the heat source or be close enough to the heat source to be feeling the heat source,” Grunlan said.

Military and sporting goods companies have applications for this type of technology because there is not a large battery pack worn on the body that could be a cause of injury if the person would fall.

“They would love to power health sensors off of body heat and then wirelessly transmit that data to wherever,” Grunlan explained. “You’d like to know if somebody had a concussion or was dehydrated or something like that while it’s happening in real time.”

As a person generates heat, the temperature outside is colder than what’s against the body. The temperature differential generates a voltage.

The goal is to design technology that can get one volt or up to 10 percent efficiency and beyond. So, for example, a researcher would try to get eight watts from a person who is generating 80 watts.

The ingredients in this thermoelectric recipe include carbon nanotubes, polymers and a carbon material called graphene, which is a nanoparticle.

Researchers are trying to perfect the recipe of this ink-like material.

“The one voltage is realistic, but how much material do we need to get that one voltage because we need as little as possible?” said Carolyn Long, a Ph.D. graduate student at Texas A&M.

Also Read about- Google Takes Initiative To Clean And Make Our Planet Healthy

“So, different polymers, different amounts of the multi-walled or double-walled nanotubes, adding the graphene, which order it needs to go in exactly to create the best pathway for the electrons for the thermoelectric material,” said Long of the various experiments she and her lab mates have conducted.

The aim is to create a product that can be mass produced.

“It will happen. It’s not will it happen. It’s when. Is it a year, or is it five years?” Grunlan said.

That will depend on how much funding and manpower is available to make this technology a reality. (VOA)

Next Story

Researchers Develop Way to Fight against Bacterial Infections using Electricity

Bacterial biofilms are thin, slimy films of bacteria that form on some wounds, including burns or post-surgical infections, as well as after a medical device is placed in the body

0
bacterial infections
Bacterial biofilms are thin, slimy films of bacteria that form on some wounds, including burns or post-surgical infections, as well as after a medical device is placed in the body. Pixabay

Amid growing antibiotic resistance, Indian-origin researchers have developed a way to charge up the fight against bacterial infections using electricity.

The electric field-based dressing can not only disrupt biofilm infection, it can also prevent such infections from forming in the future, said the study published in the journal Annals of Surgery.

Bacterial biofilms are thin, slimy films of bacteria that form on some wounds, including burns or post-surgical infections, as well as after a medical device is placed in the body.

bacterial infections
Amid growing antibiotic resistance, Indian-origin researchers have developed a way to charge up the fight against bacterial infections using electricity. Pixabay

These bacteria generate their own electricity, using their own electric fields to communicate and form the biofilm, which makes them more hostile and difficult to treat.

The dressing electrochemically self-generates 1 volt of electricity upon contact with body fluids such as wound fluid or blood, which is not enough to hurt or electrocute the patient, said the study.

Work conducted at the Indiana University School of Medicine by Chandan Sen and and Sashwati Roy led to the development of the dressing, Indiana University said in a statement on Friday.

bacterial infections
Bacterial biofilms are thin, slimy films of bacteria that form on some wounds, including burns or post-surgical infections, as well as after a medical device is placed in the body. Pixabay

They discovered the dressing is not only successful in fighting the bacteria on its own, but when combined with other medications can make them even more effective.

The researchers believe that the discovery has the potential to create significant changes in the way physicians treat patients with bacterial infections which are resistant to antibiotics.

ALSO READ: Twitter Suspends Accounts of Anti-trump Activists

“This shows for the first time that bacterial biofilm can be disrupted by using an electroceutical dressing,” said Chandan Sen, Director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering.

“This has implications across surgery as biofilm presence can lead to many complications in successful surgical outcomes,” Sen added. (IANS)