Hosted by IDTechEx
Off Grid Energy Independence
Posted on January 17, 2011 by  & 

Canadian soldiers testing bionic energy harvester

Bionic Power Inc. has entered into a collaborative agreement with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) to test Bionic Power's PowerWalk™ M-Series prototype on soldiers.
"Bionic Power has spent considerable effort working with DRDC and the Canadian Forces, taking into consideration their feedback in designing our product," says Yad Garcha, CEO of Bionic Power. "We have already proven that we can generate an average of 12 watts of power on mixed terrain. We now look forward to receiving feedback from soldiers once they have had a chance to wear and test our device."
Soldiers are currently testing the PowerWalk™ M-Series and will provide feedback on the product's comfort and usefulness while the research team tests its power generation performance and compatibility with the soldiers' tasks.
Bionic Power's energy harvester resembles an athletic knee brace and weighs about 750 grams (1.7 lbs) per leg. With a device on each leg, a user walking at a comfortable speed generates an average of 12 watts of electricity. The technology uses principles similar to regenerative braking in hybrid cars to unobtrusively generate electricity from the natural motion of walking and then use it to charge a wide range of portable battery-powered devices. In addition, the energy harvester generates up to 20 watts of power when used walking downhill and may offer other benefits to soldiers, such as a reduction of knee injuries and ligament protection.
Bionic Power's technology is intelligent - within every stride, an on-board microprocessor analyzes the user's walking pattern to determine precisely when to turn on power generation and how much to apply for optimal comfort and maximum power generation. The hardware underlying the technology includes a lightweight carbon-fibre brace to comfortably capture the motion of the knee joint. A gearbox takes the low speed and high torque knee joint power and steps it up into the high speed range required for efficient electrical power generation. An integrated generator then converts the mechanical power into electricity.
The company's energy harvesting technology is key in reducing the weight in batteries that soldiers carry while on patrol away from their base. According to the company soldiers currently carry as much as 13 kg of batteries on a 72-hour mission to power equipment such as night vision goggles, GPS and communications devices. This weight and reliance on primary batteries significantly limits their range and speed of travel.
Bionic Power is a privately-held technology company in Canada. The company's PowerWalk™ M-Series is the culmination of years of biomedical engineering research and is the focus of a growing intellectual-property portfolio.
Source and image: Bionic Power Inc
More IDTechEx Journals