In 2017, Army scientists will be testing an energy-harvesting device that straps to the legs and generates power from walking. The PowerWalk is designed to extract the energy expended when the knee is flexed and negative work is being performed. The system adjusts to a person’s gait, so soldiers don’t feel like they are wearing a device and can even forget that they have it on, according to a recent Army press release.
US soldiers carry about 100 pounds of gear for a 72 hour mission and 16-20 pounds is for batteries.
The goal is to have the energy-harvesting device
* weigh one pound and be capable of generating 3.5 watts and
* another device weighing two pounds able to generate 10 watts
Bionic Power of Vancouver Canada is making the Powerwalk devices.
While the current focus is on developing the PowerWalk for military use and applications, our technology represent a viable solution to power the essential communication and navigation equipment used by those working in disaster zones and remote locations.
The direct effects of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and fires are always compounded by failing communication and electricity grids. First responders and other rescue workers in these difficult situations depend on battery-powered, two-way radios and GPS to stay in communication with one another and to locate those in need. Delivering backup and replacement batteries to disaster-stricken regions poses serious logistical challenges. Furthermore, stockpiled batteries tend to lose energy over time.
Workers in resource-sector industries such as forestry, mining, and oil and gas also rely on mobile technologies such as GPS, two-way radios, and laptop computers to do their jobs and remain safe in the field. In many cases, the amount of time workers can spend in remote worksites is limited by the battery life of their portable electronics.
As in military applications, the PowerWalk can deliver uninterrupted life-saving power in the field, to those who need it most. They are evaluating the feasibility of using our technology to support those working in challenging environments.
Beyond military and professional applications, the PowerWalk has the potential to offer a viable energy alternative for recreational, emergency preparedness and emergency backup applications. Imagine being on a backcountry hike, keeping your phone or GPS charged at all times; or being able to include a PowerWalk in your bug-out bag or survival kit; or knowing that in the event your primary backup power source fails, you have a self-sufficient way to meet your most critical energy needs.
While they develop the PowerWalk for military use, we are beginning to explore what a consumer version of our energy harvester would look like, from product specifications and requirements to cost.
SOURCES- Bionic Power, US Army
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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