Probably not many of us think about the fact that the electricity that charges our mobile devices actually comes from converting heat energy from burning coal in a power plant
Now, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have put a new spin on this old and proven method: they are generating electricity using… our body heat!
Naturally, our body is not able to produce as much energy as a furnace in a power plant. In its current state of design, the thermoelectric generator, as the device is called, is capable of generating 1V of voltage for every square centimetre of skin. Although that’s not enough to power a device the size of a smartphone, researchers say it would be suitable for charging smaller gadgets, such as smartwatches.
The thermoelectric generator is made of special polymers, so it can easily deform and repair micro-damage on its own, just like human skin. “After a while, the battery in most devices loses its original capacity and must be replaced. The advantage of thermoelectric devices is that they do not undergo such wear and tear: just put them on and they immediately start providing electricity,” says Jianliang Xiao, one of the main authors of the project.
Of course, the project is only in the research phase for now, but the researchers assure that it could hit the market within 10 years. We can only wait – imagine how small mobile devices could become if they did not have to be equipped with a battery!
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