Monday, December 3, 2007

Harnessing Kinetic Energy

From MIT's Technology Review:
A microgenerator could power portable devices for troops.

Soldiers who are packing multiple portable technologies could soon have less heavy lifting to do. M2E Power, a biomechanics startup based in Boise, ID, has developed a microgenerator that is designed to replace the 10 to 30 pounds (4.5 to 13.6 kilograms) of batteries that the company says troops carry to power devices such as radios, night-vision goggles, and mine detectors.

The battery-size product, the M2E, harnesses kinetic energy, or normal physical movement, to generate power. Clipped onto a belt or carried in a knapsack, the entire generator is contained within a regular battery casing. The wearer's walking or shaking moves magnets in the device. Those magnets infuse the wire coils with energy that can be used to power mobile devices. It isn't a new technology: the device uses the same technical principle that operates a self-winding watch or a "shake and shine" battery-free flashlight. But those watches and flashlights aren't highly efficient at generating power