Lightning Packs LLC have created an electricity-generating backpack that can “provide wearable renewable electricity for combat soldiers or disaster-relief workers operating in remote locations.” Instead of using disposable batteries, which can weigh up to 20 lbs, the new backpack generates electricity via the kinetic movement of the cargo compartment moving up and down. This not only allows for longer missions, but reduces the demand for resupply operations.
Of course, kinetic movement doesn’t generate that much power, in this case just 7 watts, but that’s enough to run night vision goggles, a GPS system or a cell phone. Lightning Packs hope that the backpack will benefit and potentially save the lives of field scientists, hikers, explorers, soldiers and disaster workers, who can produce their own electricity out in the field.
The design was developed by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, where they put springs on the backpack’s carrying frame in order to create the up-and-down motion and power the small generator. The whole system only weighs 10 lbs, but the team hopes to make it only a few pounds heavier than a standard rucksack.
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What’s great is that the more you carry, the more energy is created. In a test at Fort Benning in Georgia, an improved model was able to generate 16 to 22 watts while walking, and up to 40 watts while running.
In addition to the backpack, the army has been developing the Knee Harvester, a kinetic device designed to harvest energy from the motion of your knee, courtesy of the company Bionic Power. It is expected that in a few years, batteries will not be needed by military units utilising these devices.
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Images via Lightning Packs/isafmedia