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Generating Electricity From Body Heat

Updated on October 22, 2011

Scientific innovations are not restricted to creating useful gadgets or machines. In fact, studies reveal that there are many scientific aspects that we can explore, particularly with regards to human body. One such recent example is the production of heat in the body which can create electricity: German scientists have identified a mechanism of converting body heat into electricity with the help of circuitry. This means that, in future, we will be able to operate our television and cellphones with nothing but the heat of our own body! Scientists are also hoping that this innovation will help reduce the world's energy problems.

An Amazing Fact

According to the scientists, in 15 per cent fat in a human body, it is possible to generate 11,000 watts of electricity per hour. In fact, different yielded energy levels are 81 watts from a sleeping person, 128 watts from a soldier standing at ease, 163 watts from a walking person, 407 watts from a briskly walking person, 1,048 watts from a long-distance runner, and 1,630 watts from a sprinter.

How does a human body generates heat?

The advancements in nanotechnology and material sciences are causing energy requirements to fall, but at the same time increasing its production and transfer. In order to use the movements of human body to generate electricity, scientists have developed a new class of devices that can function to manufacture energy from body movements, like muscles stretching. Also, the flow of the water is used to power future nanoscale components.

A nanometre is one-billionth of a metre; -- a human hair is roughly 100,000 -- generator which produces electrical current with the bending and relaxing of nanometre wires. These movements mimic the movements of body muscles.

These nanoscale components are called ‘nano-generators' or the thermoelectric generators, and made from semi-conductor elements which are less heavy than the conventional energy sources like batteries. The device is a prototype Zinc oxide nanowire, which extracts electrical energy simply from the change in temperature between a hot and a cold environment.

Since zinc oxide is non-toxic, the nano-generators can safely be implanted onto a human body. Inside the body, our cells produce mechanical energy by burning chemical energy that is generated through burning complex molecules of glucose into simpler ones. The nano-generators will utilise the mechanical energy and convert it into electrical energy for empowering devices inside the body.

The difference in temperature of the surrounding environment and the human body is very important in generating electricity through heat energy of the body. Since this variation in internal and external temperature is of few degrees, it would normally produce only around 200 millivolts and would not be sufficient enough to power electronic devices that normally require about 1-2 volts.

However, scientists have tried to combine a number of components in a completely new way for formulating circuits, which can function on 200 millivolts and will help in extracting heat energy from the body heat alone. Scientists also predict that in near future, temperature differences of just about 0.5 degrees will be sufficient enough to generate electricity. Some of the most capable mechanisms for inactively converting human body functions into electricity is piezoelectric effect.

The ‘Piezoelectric' substances are like ceramics which generate electricity from mechanical pull or press, and do not need any voltage to be applied on. This technique is used in ‘Heel strike' devices which generate electricity from walking. Likewise, the urine-based fuel cells are also used where one can use human excretory fluid into power.

Also, inertial energy scavenging technique is a unique type of energy gathering system. This is already being used in many Seiko watches powered by a weight system that swings with the movements of the wearer. Due to the small fraction of electrical production with these effects, there is not much hype about the electricity production of these device systems.

Benefits and uses

These nano-generators can be placed inside the shoe of the wearer where the heat is generated by the motion of feet, and then converted into electrical energy. The use of body energy in military is being aimed at for soldiers in battlefields using it as personal battery chargers, medical sensors, displays, gun sights, and range finders.

With the possibility of using body heat for generating electricity, scientists have found that this could be very useful in the field of medicine as well, particularly in hospitals where patients are observed round-the-clock. This includes checking pulse rate, heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and breathing rate since it comes with a complex network of wires around the bedside, with each connection requiring its own electric supply.

Scientists can use hermo-generators for energising these complex wire systems for performing their work without creating a mess of electrical sources since they are capable of sensing the temperature variations in the body, and then collecting the heat into electrical energy.

In many fitness centres and dance clubs for example, the energy generated by the body movements of the customers was transformed into electricity and stored in a battery. This source of electricity is also being used to power the lights of the same gyms and night clubs. In fact, a Dutch environmental group is building a nightclub in Rotterdam that will have a dance floor converting vibrations from all the feet into electricity. One possible design for the floor involves piezoelectric crystals, which generate a small electric current when compressed.

Nasa’s plans on using the technology

Nasa is working to scoop up electrons which carry energy from the normal activities of the body like movement, bending and extending, compression, urine, and body heat. This is a unique plan, different from the other human-engineered schemes that take extra action, like spring or dynamo flashlights and radios which are wound-up by a particular handle, flashlights which are pressed by the user to produce charge or fly wheels which stock up energy from a cord that is dragged.

However, it is impossible to capture 100 per cent body energy under any circumstances. This is why body heat can only be converted in three per cent efficiency with current thermoelectric materials. The energy consumed by an individual is adequate for providing power to electronic devices if provided with a suitable method for changing a small portion of that energy into electricity. So it will not be wrong to say that very soon, we may possibly see children on bicycles where the pedalling will generates electricity to operate their headlights.

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    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      That is incredible. Kids pedalling now do this. But I think you talking on body electrics not mechanical. Which is the way they do it now I believe.

      Very interesting that's for sure. I would be great

    • hassam profile image
      Author

      hassam 8 years ago from Pakistan

      This Sure is an amazing thing and if successful could revolutionize the world

    • dutch84 profile image

      dutch84 8 years ago

      Cool.

    • profile image

      GAYBOY 8 years ago

      very interesting all it needed was a m16

    • profile image

      cozzymodo 8 years ago

      mmm.. very intresting.. any body no how i can get info on battery's that are powered by body heat, that can perduce more heat?

    • profile image

      mary 8 years ago

      This is great....informative...like me...i often encountered such like this...my friends..often saying that when they are near at my body..or their skin is touch mine..they felt like electrocuted lol....

      does it mean..i have more electricity in body ...maybe can produce much electricity...

      :P

    • ptshubs profile image

      ptshubs 8 years ago

      very interesting and informative hub....good

    • katyzzz profile image

      katyzzz 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This is very interesting and a revolutionary idea. the possibilites are enormous, nice to see you Hassam

    • packerpack profile image

      Om Prakash Singh 8 years ago from India, Calcutta

      Very informative Hub. Nano tech is gonna be next big thing. If as per the present research it could find itself into the mainstream of human life then it will be the biggest invention by mankind.

      You said that it could be easily implanted in human body. But don't you think that it will be harmful to body because after all they are foreign materials to body?

    • hassam profile image
      Author

      hassam 8 years ago from Pakistan

      Every technology comes with some pros and cons, so definitely if we are getting something good out of it, it may have some adverse effects also. That is also the case with this technology but currently that is the least concern because it is still in its development phase.

    • profile image

      mikraj 8 years ago

      coooooooooooool, nice one

      invent more of these

    • artfuldodger profile image

      artfuldodger 8 years ago from Earth

      dope hub. i linked to it. very well written and informative. kudos

    • profile image

      krish 7 years ago

      it's amazing..if we couls generate 200mv.it's very easy to convert into 4-5v by means of analog multipliers...easy to charge some devices..

    • profile image

      Iamnotabattery 7 years ago

      stumbled across this recently. Now all we need is some intelligent machines to have a war with, and they can turn us into batteries as their power source. Interesting how science ends up mimicking science fiction.

    • profile image

      chiyaan 7 years ago

      superb ....!idea

    • profile image

      TMinut 7 years ago

      Lamnotabattery, ROFL! Could be true too, couldn't it? :-)

      I've got to show this to my boys, they'll love it - if they haven't already heard about it. Wonder what the latest is, I'm off to go find out!

    • sab_nep profile image

      sab_nep 7 years ago

      Great topic to discuss, if it happens it will be a big contribution to medical science. So, lets continue this topic by sharing more and more ideas.

    • oblivliz profile image

      oblivliz 7 years ago from Helena, MT

      This is quite interesting, I've been researching alternative energy sources, some of my own design. A few are a bit out there, but this is a great contribution. The shear fact that you can use body heat to generate electricity astounds me. I'm am impressed. The article is well written too.

    • profile image

      ameenurahman a s 7 years ago

      great topic to apply next generation

    • profile image

      Kim Garcia 7 years ago

      Fascinating article!! I truly believe we are advancing so swiftly in technology that it makes our heads spin. But this goes right along with the extensive study I've done on minerals, and quartz crystals, which obviously generate heat to oscillate. All of this sounds so Sci-Fi, but the truth is, we're living it. Thanks for this post, very interesting!!

    • profile image

      Ernest 7 years ago

      ohh I c, I also have much of this electrical current. Most of my friends get shocked when they touch my body too!

    • profile image

      Unknown 7 years ago

      I believe that body heat is something we can all use, in terms of technologie. It's funny, I can usualy generate body heat, but I really do not know how or why. I just usualy never get cold when i'm supposed to...It's either that or i'm just weird...

    • L3B0 profile image

      L3B0 6 years ago

      This hub really is something...extremely fascinating to know all this information..its amazing actually that our own bodies can produce small amounts of electricity.

    • profile image

      Peter Enmore 6 years ago

      It is so amazing what science is doing with electricity. It all started with simple resistors and conductors, and now we are on to generating electricity from body heat.

    • profile image

      me 6 years ago

      When was this written? Powering bicycle lights by pedaling has been happening for yonks!

    • profile image

      anwa paul 6 years ago

      amazing!may be an exclusive task in future

    • profile image

      Nishanth 6 years ago

      Brilliant...!!!

    • profile image

      Cannk Jr 6 years ago

      Brilliant!

    • profile image

      Mr. Dispenser 6 years ago

      I AM FASCINATED BY THE CONTENTS. MAY I SUGGEST TO INCREASE VOLTAGE GENERATED FROM HUMAN BODY HEAT TO CONSTRUCT A DEVISE WHICH WOULD ACT AS A CONVERTER OR INVERTER. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

    • profile image

      Ramesh  5 years ago

      email:rp_paradise_07@yahoo.com

      In my body there is excessive heat produced from time to time. Is their any solution to maintain the temperature of my body?

    • profile image

      j.aditya 5 years ago

      please send total information on this(i.e circuit diagram)

    • profile image

      s.nowroz 5 years ago

      amazing ,for an invention i was looking since long and which was unbelievable comes true

      i hve to work on this and will see for your(all working on this)help

    • profile image

      sairam 5 years ago

      ya its really good informative one...........

    • profile image

      Lawrence J. Carmalt Sr. 5 years ago

      It seems to me that this is backwards. First let me assure you I have a degree in electronics and now. I believe that like a stove or oven coil when electricity passes through it gets hot from the resistance of the coil, likewise I believe that the electrical energy passing through our nerves is what creates the body heat we experience, regulated by the brain through sweating or panting. Now the real question is where do we get the electricity to pass through our nerves? We are a combination of acids and base chemicals similar to a battery and that is where we get the electricity to power our nervous system's heater.

      This makes sense because animal's that hibernate, body temperature drops because of lack of brain activity and outside temperature. When this happens, they don't sweat to lower their temperature, but it lowers because of atmospheric temperatures and lower brain activity.

      Now this is just a theory, but it makes sense electrically.

    • profile image

      akshay 5 years ago

      i think it will be a very important invention

    • profile image

      HAROON MUNAWAR 5 years ago

      HELLO.YOUNG MAN.I NEED YOUR HELP?HOW CAN I GET IT?

      MY CELL NO.03137740601

    • profile image

      swamy 5 years ago

      really it is nice one but we have to work out lot to implement it

    • profile image

      abyss 5 years ago

      Awesome idea dude keep good work going

    • profile image

      sat 5 years ago

      ya im facing this problem...when ever im touching some things and my friends ...i feel like electric shock as well as my friends while touched me....some times my computer when im touched it will be turn off.and my television set also blasted once due to im pressing the switch...what should i do

    • profile image

      M Iqbal 5 years ago

      fantastic

    • profile image

      anjali 5 years ago

      it's a brilliant job .really it is very usrful for the coming society

    • profile image

      Manish 5 years ago

      I found the formula of electricity generate by human body heat.

    • profile image

      cbeuby 5 years ago

      Electronics guy. The heat would be converted into electricity with the implanted nanotech devices. Also electricity from chemical reactions in the cells could be harvested. The nervous system was not the direct source implied

    • profile image

      cbeuby 5 years ago

      The nervous system isn't the heater. The main source of heat is the processing of caloric intake, and friction from blood flow. Hence you sweat when your heart rate goes up. The heat from the electrical impulses in our nervous system is there but not as prevalent as the fomentioned bodily functions. As for the shock effect most people feel is ussually static, but there are people known to produce enough electricity internally that they don't require the ussual friction outside the body or the atmospheric conditions that cause it in most cases. Check out old episodes of Super Human. There was a man they researched that achieved this through meditation. Also a man that could control his body temperature in the most hypothermic prone conditions.

    • profile image

      venu 5 years ago

      could u can send me a slides for this in piwer point applications

    • profile image

      shashikant kumar 5 years ago

      Nice thinking. plz guide me also.

    • profile image

      Gm 5 years ago

      Thanks for posting such an ingenious idea.

    • profile image

      Farhan 5 years ago

      Hey guys:

      I don’t really read all the posts or the main post, I was just searching an answer of my question and came through this post. i am having terrible time these days, and getting so many minor electric shocks, not so high but strong enough to shake my body once, my question is.. Why my body is some kind of voltage, i know we have done so many experiments on human body heat and electromagnetic rays, but this thing is so weird and I am really a bit scared of it now, whenever i change my clothes for once i get an electric shock if i touch any metal by mistake, usually it happens when i change and hold the door lock or cupboard handle or even i touch the window, and its not end here, two days ago I changed my clothes and was moving out of my room and this electric fluctuation happened so I called my wife to bring me lighter ( just after changing my clothes) and as she handed over my the light mine fingers touches hers and we both clearly saw a spark with a little noise of TICH, I told my wife many times about it but she never believed me and kept laughing but that night she saw it herself, don’t know if you guys pay any attention to my post but might some of you can help me or guide me what should I do to avoid this thing, because no matter these shocks are not high but still it irritates me and sometimes I feel pain in my vain. Can you guys tell me why is it what is the cause, i would like to tell I tried different type of clothes but this happens all the time, if I took off my shoes or change clothes, even when I wakeup in the morning and touch any Metal,

      Kindly guide me if something serious is happening.

      Tanks and regards,

      Farhan

    • hassam profile image
      Author

      hassam 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Hi Farhan,

      As for as I know, this is static charge which is common in cold season and what clothing you wear. However, like you said it happens again and again, it might be that it is unique to you. You can try drinking a lot of water as it may be that you have a lot of electrolytes in you body.

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