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最新号のScienceに掲載された話なので、アメリカ方面のニュースサイトでは多く扱われているが、代表してScience Dailyのニュース(2/8)から。Knee Brace Generates Electricity From Walking

A new energy-capturing knee brace can generate enough electricity from walking to operate a portable GPS locator, a cell phone, a motorized prosthetic joint or an implanted neurotransmitter, research involving the University of Michigan shows.

The wearable mechanism works much like regenerative braking charges a battery in some hybrid vehicles, said Arthur Kuo, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at U-M and an author of the paper.*

Regenerative brakes collect the kinetic energy that would otherwise be dissipated as heat when a car slows down. This knee brace harvests the energy lost when a human brakes the knee after swinging the leg forward to take a step.

人の膝に取り付けて、歩行中に発電しようという装置の話。ポータブルGPSや携帯電話、あるいは体内に埋め込んだ電気機器などの電源に使おうということらしい。人の歩行エネルギーを有効に使って発電しようというのはいいが、結局人間がそれ以上に体力を使いそうな気がするがどうなのだろう? 今回の装置は、ハイブリッドカーが減速時にエネルギーを回収しているのと同様に、人間が歩行時に足を前後に振る際の、足の動きを減速しようとする際のエネルギーを有効に回収しようという試みであり、通常は無駄に失われている分とのこと。
"There is power to be harvested from various places in the body, and you can use that to generate electricity. The knee is probably the best place," he said. "During walking, you dissipate energy in various places, when your foot hits the ground, for example. You have to make up for this by performing work with your muscles.

"The body is clever," Kuo said. "In a lot of places where it could be dissipating energy, it may actually be storing it and getting it back elastically. Your tendons act like springs. In many places, we're not sure whether the energy is really being dissipated or you're just storing it temporarily. We believe that when you're slowing down the knee at the end of swinging the leg, most of that energy normally is just wasted."

The scientists tested the knee brace on six men walking leisurely on a treadmill at 1.5 meters per second, or 2.2 miles per hour. They measured the subjects' respiration to determine how hard they were working. A control group wore the brace with the generator disengaged to measure how the weight of the 3.5-pound brace affected the wearer.

In the mode in which the brace is only activated while the knee is braking, the subjects required less than one watt of extra metabolic power for each watt of electricity they generated. A typical hand-crank generator, for comparison, takes an average of 6.4 watts of metabolic power to generate one watt of electricity because of inefficiencies of muscles and generators.



"We've demonstrated proof of concept," Kuo said. "The prototype device is bulky and heavy, and it does affect the wearer just to carry. But the energy generation part itself has very little effect on the wearer, whether it is turned on or not. We hope to improve the device so that it is easier to carry, and to retain the energy-harvesting capabilities."

A lighter version would be helpful to hikers or soldiers who don't have easy access to electricity. And the scientists say similar mechanisms could be built into prosthetic knees other implantable devices such as pacemakers or neurotransmitters that today require a battery, and periodic surgery to replace that battery.




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この記事へのトラックバック一覧です: 膝発電は意外と効率的:

» [科学] 人間の膝で発電 [フラスコと万華鏡 --化学ブログ]
「人力発電」歩くだけで携帯10台分 平均出力5ワット  http://www.asahi.com/science/update/0207/TKY200802070397.html 走ったり歩いたりする際、ひざにかかる力の一部を吸収して電気に変える人力 発電装置を、カナダと米国の研究チームが開発した。平均出力は5ワット... [続きを読む]

受信: 2008/02/17 17:52

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