Energy Harvester and nPower PEG: Because kinetic energy isn’t slowing down!

Just how logical is kinetic energy? Extremely, I’d say, because unlike wind power that requires wind – too bad if it’s a still day – or solar that requires the sun – too bad if it’s a cloudy day, which is usually the case in the UK, well in Manchester anyway! – Kinetic energy relies solely on motion.


According to Shape Up America, the average person takes anything between 900 to 3000 steps every day! Given that as a species we are ostensibly always on the move, together with the fact we have cohesive motives to save our planet plummeting into irreversible destruction, it surely makes sense to harness the energy produced by walking.

This is the reckoning behind a team of British scientist’s creation of the simply named “Energy Harvester”, a device that converts body movement into electricity and is then capable of powering small gadgets, such as GPS trackers. The device was unveiled in July 2012’s issue of the journal ‘Smart Materials and Structures’ and is designed to be worn on a person’s knee.

What Michele Pozzi, the project’s leader, has referred to as a “compact and truly wearable harvester”, comprises of an outer ring that, which rotates as the knee joint moves and is equipped with a 72 plectra that in turn move four energy-generating ‘arms’, known as bimorphs, attached to an inner hub – In simpler terms, the vibrations caused by the movement is generated into energy.

According to Reuters, the “Energy Harvester” can presently harvest approximately two milliwatts of power but researchers perceive the gadget being capable, with a couple of enhancements, of exceeding 30 milliwatts.

Whilst Reuters may over-zealously refer to the “Energy Harvester” as being a ‘novel device’, the seemingly unanimous desire to yield kinetic energy into power has seen a splurge of kinetic energy devices sprout up in recent years.

The kinetic charger from nPower, the nPower PEG, – an acronym for ‘personal energy generator’ – for example, despite being first unveiled as a prototype in 2010 when it gained second place at the Consumer Electronic Association’s i-Stage competition for start-ups, became available to buy this month, at a retail price of $170.

This passive kinetic energy charger is designed for backing up the power supply of handheld devices has a 2,000 maH battery. According to nPower, the nPower PEG can be hooked on to a backpack or belt loop and meets customers’ demands for energy that is ‘away from the power grid’.


Move over World leaders: The Copenhagen Wheel

Whilst little may have been resolved at the climate change summit in Copenhagen last month, the unveiling of a bicycle, which moves by using the kinetic energy from its own wheels, could be described as the summit’s savior, marking a radical achievement in the global quest to slow down man’s self-inflicted destruction on the planet.

Humbly named The Copenhagen Wheel, this bicycle is like no other. Having the ability to recuperate kinetic energy by an electric motor which then stores the surplus power by batteries inside the wheel, the bike is an emblem of new urban mobility. Whilst the process of converting the kinetic energy of wheels into power may not be an entirely new phenomenon, as this technology has transformed Formula One racing during the last two years, the fact that The Copenhagen Wheel is also equipped with a Bluetooth connection and has the facility to connect an iPhone to the handlebars, turns the machine into a hybrid e-bike, and revolutionizes contemporary cycling.

It is perhaps the bike’s cybernetic qualities, which has led to some disagreement surrounding its name. As multiple information is available through an app, including personal fitness, travel data, speed, distances, pollution warnings and weather conditions, an iPhone can even be used to unlock the bike and change gear, some have chosen to call the creation, “Bike 2.0”, symbolizing a renaissance in biking and the design being the first prototype “e-bike”.

But its creators, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Senseable City Lab, chose to christen the bike The Copenhagen Wheel, and shrewdly introduced their mechanism when all eyes where looking, albeit at the world leaders in Copenhagen, who were desperately grappling for global harmonization to combat climate change.

The world’s leaders of course failed, but it hard to imagine that a design like The Copenhagen Wheel, using basic electronics and converting them into on-demand systems, and in doing so becoming a vanguard in tackling the perils of high-consumption lifestyles, could also fail.

Ritt Bjerrengaard, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, has announced that it is his aim is to have 50 percent of the city traveling to work on The Copenhagen Wheel, and with its lightweight frame, elegant but simple appearance, masking a medley of technologies at their most sophisticated, it is easy to envisage that The Copenhagen Wheel really will be the wheels of the future.