• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note

Air Date: Week of

Scientists demonstrate material that could be used to capture energy from respiration. (Photo: Jim Beal)

Scientists in Wisconsin want to turn your nose into a generator. As Raphaella Bennin reports, harnessing the air current created by breath might create enough electrical current to power a small medical device such as a pacemaker.


GELLERMAN: It’s Living on Earth, I'm Bruce Gellerman. Just ahead, why we have to give thanks to caterpillars. But first this Note on Emerging Science from Raphaella Bennin.


BENNIN: Take a deep breath. Do you feel energized? Pretty soon your breath could be recharging, not just your lungs, but a battery.

Today, when a pacemaker, or other medical device, is implanted in a person’s body it contains a battery- and that battery will eventually need to be replaced. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin are trying to help patients avoid that additional surgery by finding a way to power a medical device without a battery.

Researchers already know how to create electricity by exposing a piece of long skinny plastic to gusts of wind or even breezes. When the air forces the taught plastic to vibrate, an electrical charge is generated. The Wisconsin-based scientists are using that same principle with a piece of plastic so small and sensitive that the wind power of just breathing can produce enough electricity to keep a small medical device running.

The researchers hope to implant the plastic in the bridge of a patient’s nose. If all goes as planned, every time the patient laughs, inhales, or speaks the medical device is charged. And knowing there are no batteries to be replaced could help a lot of people breathe much easier. That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science, I’m Raphaella Bennin.




News report from the University of Wisconsin

A link to the abstract of the original article in the journal Energy and Environmental Science


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth