Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Power generating shoes : Work in progress

After researching a device that draws energy from knee movement, some mechanical engineering students at Rice University decided to see if they could get the same result from another, less intrusive wearable item: a shoe. With help from the Movement Analysis Laboratory at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, the resulting PediPower shoes harness energy from the force of the heel hitting the ground. The prototype demonstrates the simple act of walking may one day power a wide range of electronics, including medical devices such as pacemakers and artificial hearts. The PediPower, built into the heel of the prototype shoe, hits the ground first, at which point a lever arm strikes. This turns gears in a gearbox in the shoe's sole, which then drives an electricity-generating motor mounted on the outside of the shoe. The shoe, which delivers almost 400 milliwatts of power during walking tests, sends the energy through wires to a belt-mounted battery pack. A voltage regulator keeps the flow steady even in the mid-stride moments of rest. The students developed PediPower for Cameron, an international, Houston-based company that forged a partnership with the Texas Heart Institute to apply its flow-equipment expertise to next-gen artificial heart pumps. The students are optimistic another team at Rice will turn their proof of concept into bigger and better power-generating shoes.

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