Body Heat as a Source of Energy

Even though solar-, wind-, and hydropower developments have been efficient alternatives to coal power plants and helped foster a cleaner environment, even the most agile renewable energy technologies can fail, hindered by their technical requirements.

The outer terrain & inner evolvement is a process of identical reflection. As long as we retain the poise balance between the two, we are in this to succeed.

Out of respect for the neighbor & gratitude for the planted field under our feet, we are at the stage of re-evaluating our relation to the source of essential needs. It would be wise to say that as much as automated technology gives us freedom of choice to rely on new advancements, yet we cannot be that complacent. Simply because for us to pursue this route of events de-attaches us from ancestral inherited wisdom. It is undeniably a controversial topic to touch upon as we see the split between science innovations & the value of past generations. The outer terrain & inner evolvement is a process of identical reflection. As long as we retain the poise balance between the two, we are in this to succeed.

I hope the information below we’ll give you a niche possibility spectrum. Keeping it away from overwhelming “what can I do?” let’s see what’s already coming our way. 

Despite the current political climate, enterprising developers have been driving the renewable energy market for decades now. But even though solar-, wind-, and hydropower developments have been efficient alternatives to coal power plants and helped foster a cleaner environment, even the most agile renewable energy technologies can fail, hindered by their technical requirements. With wind and solar farms showing characteristics of being inefficient and unreliable, there is a pressing need for increased reliance on novel, even shocking, sources of energy. Because types of materials that can be combusted are abundant, if not unlimited, a greater focus on the reuse of materials past their life cycle could contribute to a decrease in the amount of waste and dependency on finite fossil fuels. After decades of moderate success with recycling, more recently, scientists began looking into technologies that could recapture energy from organic matter. 

As it turns out, the answer may be right in front of us—or perhaps more accurately, inside of us.

The idea of converting the human body’s energy into electricity has tantalized scientists for years:

Fact: A resting individual put out between 100 and 120 watts of energy, enough to power many of the electronics we use: a cell phone (about 1 watt) and your laptop (45 watts). Eighty percent of body power is given off as excess heat. But only in sci-fi fantasies do we see complete capture of this reliable power source.

Thermoelectricity—electricity obtained from heat due to temperature potential differences—is one of the most promising areas of "green energy." This potential difference (the so-called temperature gradients) surrounds us everywhere—a building heated in the sun, a working transport, and yes even the heat of the human body. The problem is that modern thermo-electrochemical cells (thermocells) have a rather low output power. Yet.

Scientists have found solutions to this problem by developing a new type of thermocell consisting of metal oxide electrodes and an aqueous electrolyte. This combination will increase the current, while simultaneously reducing the internal resistance of the element. Due to the use of water, it will give the output an increase in power by 10 to 20 times compared to analogs—up to 0.2 V at an electrode temperature of up to 85° C.

A thin conductive material takes advantage of the temperature difference between its two sides to produce electricity. This is known as the Seebeck effect.

The high Seebeck coefficient allows the heat of the human body to be used as an energy source. There is another significant advantage of the new structure—the use of an aqueous electrolyte reduces the cost of production and increases the safety of the system.

Further, the scientists intend to achieve an increase in the output power by optimizing the composition of the electrode material and improving the design of the thermocell. In the future, it is possible to create a supercapacitor that would retain its charge for a long time.

More on details:

The thermoelectric effect is the conversion of temperature variances to electric voltage and the other way around via a thermocouple. A thermoelectric mechanism creates a voltage when there is a separate temperature on each side of the device. When a voltage is applied to it, heat is transferred from one side to the other, producing a temperature difference. If you were to apply electricity to such a device, one side would get really cold and the other really hot. 

If a thermoelectric device is located on the skin, it will produce power as long as the ambient air is at a temperature that is lower than the skin. A device that is one square centimeter in the area can yield up to 30 microwatts. If these generators are located side by side, the amount of power being harvested is increased.

Researchers are working to improve the effectiveness of the circuitry that harnesses the small amounts of power generated by standard thermoelectric generators. Some batteries need to work a long time, such as medical devices that are implanted, such as biomedical monitoring or treatment procedures. This new technology being developed could make battery replacement unnecessary. Such devices could be powered using the differences in temperature between the body and the surrounding air.

A thermoelectric device has the potential to produce energy. These devices are designed to take advantage of the differences of tens to hundreds of degrees. Newly designed devices have the ability to harness differences of just one or two degrees, producing small but usable amounts of electric power. The key to the new technology is a control circuit that elevates the energy output from the thermoelectric material and the storage system, such as a storage capacitor.

Few words on nature:

Humans generate heat as a side effect of metabolism, and to preserve core body temperature at approximately 98°F. This amounts to 58.2 W/m2 of the heat generated, although not all of it escapes through the skin—some is lost through exhalation and perspiration. The heat from the skin is transported to the lower temperature surroundings by convection and radiative transfer at rates of 1-10 mW/cm2 all through the body. The rate of transfer depends on the part of the body and arteries, which have the greatest heat transfer. Clothing also blocks heat transfer. Therefore, the average transfer over the entire body is approximately 5 mW/cm2. The best area, which can be targeted is the radial artery in the wrist which has a heat flow of about 25 mW/cm2 at room temperature.

So. Where are we at in the bigger picture & what other alternatives are coming our way?

Space-based Solar Power.

55-60% of all incoming solar energy does not make it through the Earth’s atmosphere. In a space-based solar power system, fleets of satellites with large reflectors or inflatable mirrors could be spread out in space, directing solar radiation onto solar panels. The panels could convert that solar power into microwaves that continuously beam down to power-receiving stations on Earth, ensuring no energy is lost.

Tidal Power.

Wave energy is technically a form of stored wind energy since waves are produced from winds that blow over the sea. It could be captured on the surface, below the surface, nearshore, offshore, or far offshore. 

Algae power.

Algae grows practically anywhere, and it turns out these tiny plants are a surprising source of energy-rich oils. Up to 9,000 gallons of biofuel could be “grown” per acre, making it one of many potential energy sources of the future.

Hydrogen power. 

A colorless, odorless gas, Hydrogen accounts for 74% of the mass of the Universe. On Earth, it is only found in combination with oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen; to use hydrogen, it must be separated from other elements. Once it has, the gas yields high energy while producing almost no pollution.

If many countries achieve their goals, we’ll be in a world largely powered by renewable energy. Many of us will be using electricity to power our vehicles, and using fossil fuels will be seen as an archaic way of doing things.

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