Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Some Things are Just Cool #2: Walking Power.

Another fly-by Yahoo news item: the knee-attached battery charger.
According to an article in this month's Science Journal, researchers at Simon Frasier University in British Columbia have developed a new technology to generate electricity from the natural motion of walking. Assistant professor of kinesiology Max Donelan and other team members say their biomechanical energy harvester promises to revolutionize the way people charge the batteries that power all sorts of mobile devices, like laptops, cell phones, and emergency rescue gear.
A like product by a Japanese company (WSJournal/March 2007) connects chargers to StairMasters, etal., so that when runners use them power is generated and not consumed.

The self generated power supply is a growing segment. My sister gave me a hand cranked flashlight. No batteries needed, of course. Crank it 5 seconds and get 20 seconds of surprisingly bright light. I know another company makes hand crank radios, a good idea for survival equipment, overseas volunteers in remote lands, etc. This is possible because power storage capacity is a increasing while decreasing in size and weight. See: the SUV hybrid. Maybe the old starter crank will come back for cars. Crank for 5 minutes and drive for 5 minutes.

Unrelated philosophizing:
Power is a commodity. The means by which it is generated is unrelated to its value, except in the sense that the environmentally minded folks place a higher value on "green" energy as an ethical value added to its value as a labor/time saver. Like other commodities, the more of it in relation to the demand for it determines power's exchange value. Why is that important? Find a safe, inexpensive way to power things and we will be less dependent on foreign-oil power and consequently safer and wealthier.

I like the hand crank idea and wind power idea, it's fun to watch.


Steve said...

Seems like you demean "green" types. It's become obvious since 9/11 that we should no longer need to depend on the middle east to support our infrastructure (sp). It's these greens that are coming up with ingenious ways to fuel our economy in other ways. It's the entrenched oil/gas folks, embodied by out president, that don't want to shut off the profit tap. But, gas will run out, so I'd hedge my bets with the freaky liberal greens.

Francis Shivone said...

I'm actually sympathetic to the environmentally concerned, maybe from a different perspective than you.If I demeaned the "greens" it was unintentional. I do like to poke fun at groups because they take themselves too seriously. I include my own groups and myself.
Absolutely overdependent on foreign oil. If you applied Aristotle's definitions of causes to the problem of terrorism, the effective cause would be oil money. Without it there is no middle eastern terror network.
Anyway, appreciate the comments and man you are one hellova crossworder.

Steve said...

First of all, there should be a breathalyzer hooked to my laptop preventing me from posting after a certain BAC is attained. I'm a nicer fellow than I appeared in that comment.

Saw something real cool on the renewable energy front. Basically the same induction technology used on wind generators except attached to all revolving doors. If you think of major urban areas, those things spin constantly and the technology is simple...magnets and coils.

Francis Shivone said...

Hey, I appreciate the comments and they are well thought out.

I have seen something, somewhere on a vertical turbine looking deal that was wind generated, but never a revolving door generator. That is a perfect fit for the cool category.

I looked into the wind generator idea for a friend of mine 10 years ago, this was pre-Enron fall and it wasn't really financially viable. It is becoming so today.

Steve said...

Oil will eventually run out or become scarce enough to make other types of energy viable. I've heard this may be as soon as fifteen years from now (when natural gas would take over).

As a person not intricately familiar with the economics, I still have to think the payback period for wind justifies itself, even with moderate to high maintenance costs. Unless there's things about global warming I'm unaware of, the wind ain't gonna go away.

It may not be as cheap as Saudi petroleum today, but it will someday so let's get the infrastructure in place.

I know ranchers in west Texas that are against dotting their land with wind turbines. It reminds me of the scene in "Hud" when the patriarch refuses to allow oil drilling on his land, evoking the beauty of the land and the purity of ranching cattle. I don't think the windmill is near as intrusive and times are going to change.