Scientists from the University of Michigan have invented a heartbeat-powered pacemaker, avoiding the need for surgery every five years to replace the battery. And what is the source of power for this revolutionary device? The very heartbeats triggered by it.
Engineering researchers initially designed it for light unmanned aeroplanes, where it could generate power from wing vibrations.
The pacemaker has been designed to harvest energy from the reverberation of a beating heart through the chest and then convert it to electricity. It is capable of running either a pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator.
This new system could save patients from repeated surgery, as, currently, that is the only way to replace the batteries, which last 5 to 10 years.
Amin Karami, of the university’s department of aerospace engineering, said: “The idea is to use ambient vibrations that are typically wasted, and convert them to electrical energy. If you put your hand on top og your heart, you can feel these vibrations all over your torso.”
The researchers have not yet built a prototype, but have produced detailed designs and run successful simulations.
A slice of material only 1/100 of an inch thick would catch the vibrations and briefly expand slightly, converting mechanical stress into electricity. With magnets boosting the signal, the new device could generate 10 microwatts of power, which is about eight times the amount a pacemaker needs to operate.
Written exclusively for The Life Dept | Live Longer | 5 March 2012
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