Science

Researchers create a small wearable network to power the devices

One of the biggest challenges facing electronics manufacturers today is to consistently increase the power and capacity of their wearable devices while maintaining adequate battery life. Engineers from the University of California at San Diego have developed what they call a “wearable micro-grid” to power small electronics. The small grid harvests and stores energy from the human body.

the system It includes three main components: a sweat-fueled biofuel cell, a kinetic energy generator, and a supercapacitor for storing energy. All parts used in the system are flexible and can be washed. The components can also be printed directly on the clothes. The researchers say the wearable micro-grid integrates devices to locally collect energy from different parts of the body, including sweat and movement, while containing the ingredients needed to store that energy.

The biofuel cells that collect energy from sweat are located inside the shirt at the chest. Components designed to harness energy for movement in electricity, friction generators, are placed on the outside of the shirt on the forearms and sides of the torso near the waist. These components harvest energy from the arm swinging motion against the torso when walking and running.

The system uses supercapacitors on the outside of the shirt on the box to temporarily store energy from both energy collectors and then discharge power to small electronics, such as smart watches. The team says the ability to harvest power from movement and sweat allows the system to run devices continuously and quickly.

Proprietary generators provide power once the user starts moving before they even begin to sweat. Once sweating begins, the biofuel cells begin to produce energy and continue to do so after the user stops moving. The combination of the two technologies enables systems to overlap, and to compensate for shortcomings. During the test, the system can operate an LCD wristwatch or small display within 30 minutes of a workout session.

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