AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Breathing to create energy

New research has shown that in the future, batteries may not be needed to operate many of the small devices in your body.  Can you imagine simply breathing and being able to power a device that will keep you alive. Researchers have found that breathing can create enough energy to power a small medical device that is already in your body.

Currently the devices that are used to keep us alive are powered by batteries.  Batteries are currently the best and most efficient way to power these devices but they can cause problems for the human body. Also, these batteries do not last forever and when they need to be replaced, the patient must go through extensive surgery. Surgery is risky and every procedure that is made is a risk to the body. Every incision is a risk for infection so by reducing these procedures by finding alternative ways to get energy, lives can be saved. Dr. Wang, has come up with a solution where a battery can gather its own energy and not have a need for a battery.

Dr. Wang believes that the device could use the energy that is already around it. A battery in a vein could use the energy from blood cells colliding, a battery in the foot could gather energy from the foot hitting the ground, a battery in the nose or throat could gather energy from the air that passes over it. Dr. Wang’s idea comes from an idea known as “piezoelectricity.” These materials are able to take very small movements and turn them into energy.

Tests have been done on this idea and scientists have been able to create a device that uses the force of the air from a human breathing to create a strong enough electric current to continue to power a small device. This is a major advancement in technology. The team uses PVDF which is a light flexible material to create a bridge that connects to two larger parts of the device.  When the air passes over this bridge, it is able to convert it into energy. While this is still a work in progress the advancements that has been made are very promising and can lead to many new opportunities in medicine.

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1 Comment

  1. lagis2012

    Thats really interesting! I was curious and looked more into the topic. I wonder if you will be able to power these gadgets with sugars that you eat, too.
    This would definitely solve the waste problem of the current bio-batteries.

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