Motor Mouth PowerFriday 19th September 2014
Chewing gum producers could see a boost in demand in the future as form of fuel of choice. Why? You ask - because a group of Canadian researchers have developed a chinstrap that can harvest energy from jaw movements.
The device will be able to generate electricity from eating, chewing and talking. Jaw movements have proved to be one of the most promising candidates for generating electricity from human body movements, with researchers estimating that an average of around 7 mW of power could be generated from chewing during meals alone.
Before Wrigley and the like get excited about a future in fuel production it needs to be noted that the small amount of power generated - even by a motor mouth - can power much.
The research is looking to be able to power a number of small-scale implantable or wearable electronic devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, electronic hearing protectors and communication devices.
To harvest this energy, the study’s researchers, from Sonomax-ÉTS Industrial Research Chair in In-ear Technologies (CRITIAS) at École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal, Canada, created a chinstrap made from piezoelectric fibre composites (PFC).
PFC is a type of piezoelectric smart material that consists of integrated electrodes and an adhesive polymer matrix. The material is able to produce an electric charge when it stretches and is subjected to mechanical stress.
In their study, the researchers created an energy-harvesting chinstrap made from a single layer of PFC and attached it to a pair of earmuffs using a pair of elastic side straps. To ensure maximum performance, the chinstrap was fitted snugly to the user, so when the user’s jaw moved it caused the strap to stretch.
To test the performance of the device, the subject was asked to chew gum for 60 seconds while wearing the device; at the same time the researchers recorded the output.
The maximum amount of power that could be harvested from the jaw movements was around 18 µW, but taking into account the optimum set-up for the head-mounted device, the power output was around 10 µW.
The first results of the device’s performance have been published in Institute of Physics Publishing’s journal Smart Materials and Structures - here.
Possibly the future will see whole body could become an energy generator, feet stamping, arms swinging, hip swiveling and mouth chewing powering ourselves through life.
Friday 19th September 2014