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ScienceDaily (Feb. 8, 2008) — A new energy-capturing knee brace can generate enough electricity from walking to operate a portable GPS locator, a cell phone, a motorized prosthetic joint or an implanted neurotransmitter, research involving the University of Michigan shows.
The wearable mechanism works much like regenerative braking charges a battery in some hybrid vehicles, said Arthur Kuo, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at U-M and an author of the paper.*This is neat although the practical uses may be limited.A lighter version would be helpful to hikers or soldiers who don't have easy access to electricity. And the scientists say similar mechanisms could be built into prosthetic knees other implantable devices such as pacemakers or neurotransmitters that today require a battery, and periodic surgery to replace that battery.
"A future energy harvester might be implanted along with such a device and generate its own power from walking," Kuo said.
The paper "Biomechanical Energy Harvesting: Generating Electricity During Walking with Minimal User Effort" is published in the Feb. 8 issue of the journal Science. Authors include researchers from Simon Fraser University in Canada and the University of Pittsburgh, in addition to U-M.
Expect Al Gore to say by 2020 we all have to have one, "We must offset our Earths carbon footprints with our footprints on the Earth!".