Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Replacing batteries may become a thing of the past, thanks to 'soft generators'

Date:
April 26, 2011
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Battery technology hasn't kept pace with advancements in portable electronics, but the race is on to fix this. One revolutionary concept being pursued involves creating "wearable energy harvesters" capable of converting movement from humans or found in nature into battery power.

A a hand-pumped soft generator.
Credit: Image courtesy of American Institute of Physics

Battery technology hasn't kept pace with advancements in portable electronics, but the race is on to fix this. One revolutionary concept being pursued by a team of researchers in New Zealand involves creating "wearable energy harvesters" capable of converting movement from humans or found in nature into battery power.

A class of variable capacitor generators known as "dielectric elastomer generators" (DEGs) shows great potential for wearable energy harvesting. In fact, researchers at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute's Biomimetics Lab believe DEGs may enable light, soft, form-fitting, silent energy harvesters with excellent mechanical properties that match human muscle. They describe their findings in the American Institute of Physics' journal Applied Physics Letters.

"Imagine soft generators that produce energy by flexing and stretching as they ride ocean waves or sway in the breeze like a tree," says Thomas McKay, a Ph.D. candidate working on soft generator research at the Biomimetics Lab. "We've developed a low-cost power generator with an unprecedented combination of softness, flexibility, and low mass. These characteristics provide an opportunity to harvest energy from environmental sources with much greater simplicity than previously possible."

Dielectric elastomers, often referred to as artificial muscles, are stretchy materials that are capable of producing energy when deformed. In the past, artificial muscle generators required bulky, rigid, and expensive external electronics.

"Our team eliminated the need for this external circuitry by integrating flexible electronics -- dielectric elastomer switches -- directly onto the artificial muscles themselves. One of the most exciting features of the generator is that it's so simple; it simply consists of rubber membranes and carbon grease mounted in a frame," McKay explains.

McKay and his colleagues at the Biomimetics Lab are working to create soft dexterous machines that comfortably interface with living creatures and nature in general. The soft generator is another step toward fully soft devices; it could potentially be unnoticeably incorporated into clothing and harvest electricity from human movement. When this happens, worrying about the battery powering your cell phone or other portable electronics dying on you will become a thing of the past. And as an added bonus, this should help keep batteries out of landfills.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas G. McKay, Benjamin M. O’Brien, Emilio P. Calius, Iain A. Anderson. Soft generators using dielectric elastomers. Applied Physics Letters, 2011; 98 (14): 142903 DOI: 10.1063/1.3572338

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Replacing batteries may become a thing of the past, thanks to 'soft generators'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406123025.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2011, April 26). Replacing batteries may become a thing of the past, thanks to 'soft generators'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406123025.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Replacing batteries may become a thing of the past, thanks to 'soft generators'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406123025.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Daimler kicks off a round of second-quarter earnings results from Europe's top carmakers with a healthy set of numbers - prompting hopes that stronger sales in Europe will counter weakness in emerging markets. Hayley Platt reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins