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MIT Developing Body Heat-Powered Electronics

Posted By Ariel Schwartz On February 16, 2010 @ 7:00 pm In Environment,green gadgets,Innovation,Renewable Energy | 3 Comments

sustainable design, green design, thermal power sensors, mit, heat power, sensors, energy monitors, green design, eco design

It’s a lot easier to change the batteries [1] in a flashlight than to switch out the batteries in, say, a biomedical monitor. But eventually, such batteries might never have to be changed thanks to a new breed of heat-harvesting electronics [2] developed by researchers at MIT.

Professor Anantha Chandrakasan and alumnus Yogesh Ramadass have developed so-called “energy-scavenging systems” that can gather power [3] from temperature differences between an object (like the body) and the air. The systems can’t produce much power yet — just 100 microwatts from a temperature difference of one to two degrees. But that could still be enough to power biomedical devices (i.e. heart rate and blood sugar monitors [4]) or other low-power electronics located in hard-to-reach spots, such as air quality monitors [5] in heating and ventilation ducts or exhaust gas monitors in the flues of industrial plants.

There’s still plenty of work to be done before heat-powered electronics come into use. Anyone wearing a heat-powered blood sugar monitor on their arm, for example, also has to wear a metal heat sink. But once the MIT researchers refine their system, the devices could revolutionize the way we think about powering low-energy electrical devices [6].

+ MIT [2]

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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/mit-developing-body-heat-powered-electronics/

URLs in this post:

[1] batteries: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/08/car-bodies-store-energy/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

[2] heat-harvesting electronics: http://web.mit.edu/press/2010/mit-researchers-develop-heat-powered-electronics.html

[3] power: http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/04/10/mojave-desert-solar-power-fields/

[4] blood sugar monitors: http://www.ecouterre.com/8557/color-changing-contact-lenses-help-diabetics-keep-tabs-on-glucose-levels/

[5] air quality monitors: http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/09/06/the-black-cloud-citizen-scientist-league/

[6] low-energy electrical devices: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/09/worlds-smallest-solar-powered-sensor-could-run-forever/

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