Researchers harvest electricity from the flowing blood

For thousands of years, the human race has utilized the energy of falling or flowing water for diverse reasons, initially to drive mechanical machines such as watermills and then to produce electricity by utilizing height differentiations in the sea tides or landscape. But have you ever thought of producing electricity from flowing blood? Yes, this has become a reality now. A team of Chinese researchers have designed a lightweight power generator which can transform even the power of flowing blood into electrical energy.

The research team from the Fudan University in China has developed a fiber with a diameter of less than a millimeter that produces electrical power when enclosed by flowing solution of saline—in a slender tube or a blood vessel. The production principle of the fiber is fairly easy. A structured arrangement of carbon nanotubes was constantly coiled all over a polymeric core.

The carbon nanotubes are renowned to be mechanically stable and electro-active; they can be twisted and lined up in sheets. The sheets of carbon nanotube, in the electro-active threads, covered the fiber core with a diameter of less than half a micron. For energy production, the yarn or FFNG (fiber-shaped fluidic nanogenerator) was attached to electrodes and engrossed into flowing water or merely repetitively rinsed into a saline solution.

The researchers said, “The power was obtained from the relative motion between the solution and the FFNG.” There is a formation of the electrical double layer around the thread and then the flowing solution disfigures the proportioned charge circulation, producing an electricity gradient down the long axis. The energy output effectiveness of this setup was high. In comparison to other sorts of miniature energy-producing tools, the FFNG demonstrated a better power conversion efficiency of above 20%, as said by the research team.

Other advantages are one-dimensionality, tunability, elasticity, & lightweight, thereby providing visions of stimulating technological applications. It is possible to make the FFNG stretchable by simply whirling the sheets around a substrate of elastic fiber. If knitted into materials, wearable electronics turn out to be a very remarkable choice for FFNG application. One more stimulating application is the production of electrical power from the bloodstream for several medical applications. The researchers mentioned the initial experiments with frog nerves to be successful.

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