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The Challenges of Tapping Blood Flow For Power

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the now-taking-test-subject-applications dept.

Medicine 143

joshuarrrr writes "Researchers in Switzerland have tested small turbines designed to fit inside a human artery, like an implantable hydroelectric generator. The turbines can draw about a milliwatt of power, which would be enough to run a pacemaker. The problem is that the turbines tended to create turbulence, which can cause blood to coagulate into clots. Competing systems avoid the turbulence but have trouble generating enough power."

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Another problem to solve (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146636)

As long as we're turning humans into batteries, we need to start pharmaceutical research on developing blue and red pills.

Re:Another problem to solve (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147420)

As long as we're turning humans into batteries, we need to start pharmaceutical research on developing blue and red pills.

I get e-mails from people offering me blue pills all the time.

Re:Another problem to solve (1)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147674)

Also, resistance if futile.

Re:Another problem to solve (1)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148390)

The basic premises of the Matrix is fundamentally flawed.
Why the ^%$^ would you grow humans when you can grow, you know, YEAST, for much more benefit at a fraction of a hassle?

Re:Another problem to solve (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148444)

Spite - I imagine that any AI we create that is capable of turning on us will have a sense of irony and a capacity for sheer spite and malice.

Re:Another problem to solve (2)

reilwin (1303589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149736)

The basic premises of the Matrix is fundamentally flawed. Why the ^%$^ would you grow humans when you can grow, you know, YEAST, for much more benefit at a fraction of a hassle?

I recall the director being interviewed and mentioning that the original promise was that humans were being harvested not for energy, but for brainpower, to act as biological computers. However, this idea was scrapped as too technical for the general audience to understand.

Nigger Power Plants (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36146638)

Since so many niggers have Sickle Cell Anemia and are so averse to working real jobs, this invention could kill two birds with one stone.

All we have to do now is round up all the darkies and out welfare and energy problems will finally be fixed.

Finally, a job other than infantry soldier that niggers are well suited for.

Re:Nigger Power Plants (-1, Troll)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146700)

Since so many niggers have Sickle Cell Anemia and are so averse to working real jobs, this invention could kill two birds with one stone.

All we have to do now is round up all the darkies and out welfare and energy problems will finally be fixed.

Finally, a job other than infantry soldier that niggers are well suited for.

To say something like that and do so anonymously? It's hard to believe someone dumb enough to say that had the brains to post as AC. :|

Re:Nigger Power Plants (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36146998)

I won't point out who is dumb enough to reply to an obvious troll.

Re:Nigger Power Plants (0)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147032)

Replying to trolls isn't dumb. The troll coming back again and again for abuse and never realizing that he's a masochist? That's dumb.

Re:Nigger Power Plants (1, Offtopic)

Worthless_Comments (987427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147180)

You do not understand the nature of trolls at all.

Re:Nigger Power Plants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36146988)

Also, we could hook up the people who have nothing better to do but post racist troll comments on message boards to just such a power plant. Instant electricity, no human rights issues (after all, it's only trolls), and it'll run on cheetos.

Plus, we could hook up a pump system to your dominant hand and use the constant wanking to generate even more electricity. Perhaps some sort of rectal tube to harness the endless supply of methane that only an obese man with a junk food diet can produce.

Then, when the "battery" is used up, we can rend it down into industrial grade lard and feed it to the rest of the "batteries".

goatse g oatse go atse goa tse goat se goats e goa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36146646)

I hear they use induction-chargeable pacemaker batteries these days, anyone know how good those are?

My guess is that their ultimate problem isn't the recharging, but rather having to be replaced when they finally wear out like any battery does. Is anyone here less ignorant?

Re:goatse g oatse go atse goa tse goat se goats e (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147014)

Induction has been in certain pacemakers for at least twenty years. My first job as a tech was diagnosing pacemaker electronics that failed pre-assembly testing. The induction coils were used to program the pacemaker for the patients particular condition (AFib, VFib, one chamber up to four chambers). I'm sure the battery tech has improved since then and even back then the battery would last at least 5 years so I would imagine today's models probably last at least 10 years give or take. So incremental charging during Dr. visits could probably extend that out a good 5 to 10 more years provided the battery itself continues to hold a charge.

Re:goatse g oatse go atse goa tse goat se goats e (1)

rpresser (610529) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149906)

My impression is that the ultimate limit of the life of the pacemaker is not its battery or electronics, but its leads.

Furthermore, with pacemaker tech improving every year, do you really want to keep trusting your heart to something 15 years old?

Glucose power (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146682)

I can't recall when, but I seemed to remember reading about an idea of converting glucose into electricity. Perhaps a next generation of pace makers will use that for a source of power.

Re:Glucose power (2)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146882)

That makes a hell of a lot more sense to me than what's discussed in TFA.

Any mechanical solution (using bloodflow to generate current) is going to impede the flow of blood through whatever vessel it's installed in, which is bound to cause complications of one sort or another. Not to mention the problem of tiny moving parts in a turbine operating in a tight, viscous environment. Why not run something like a fuel cell on glucose and oxygen instead? It's not like we don't have plenty of both to spare. Granted, you've then got to get rid of the resultant waste products, but that is one of the intended functions of the circulatory system.

It must be easier to mimic the metabolic functions of the human body. The support systems are preexisting.

Re:Glucose power (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147376)

And what if the failure of the circulation system (or what the circulation system dumps into) is the problem necessitating the need for these devices? What if there's a patch to new versions of these support systems that break backwards compatibility? What now genius? :P

Re:Glucose power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36149040)

One model of an artificial heart is using a turbine system to pump the blood forward. Additionally to clotting the problem was damaging to the blood cells by the spinning blades. These problems were solved, I believe. A power generator using a turbine could use the research made for the heart pump. Blood pressure might be harnessed as well with the help of novel piezoelectric elements with less interference to the flow itself.

Re:Glucose power (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149276)

I would like to think that a millions+ years of evolution have come to adapt to the pulsating heartbeat by relying on its effects. Perhaps the stretching effect on veins and arteries helps prevent clotting from occurring.

Re:Glucose power (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#36150032)

Or, it's simply the case a muscle has troubles creating that motion. Evolution is not a route to the perfect solution, but a route to a good enough solution.
Of course the arterial system may have some deficiencies that is prevented by the pulsating effect (like clotting).

If I'm not mistaken (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146712)

People with pacemakers are probably the worst people to give extra clots in their blood.

Re:If I'm not mistaken (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146842)

The Swedes are already putting together a study on how the magnetic fields from this will cause brain cancer. I'm thinking hokey B scifi movies are now going to be considered visionary when the blood turbine powered light emitting diodes in the bionic eyes of people shut off when they die.

Perpetual Motion (1)

trunicated (1272370) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146736)

This feels awfully perpetual motion to me. Granted, I'm not a heart surgeon, nor a medical doctor of any kind... but the idea that you use blood pumped by the heart to help pump the heart seems... wrong.

Re:Perpetual Motion (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146776)

The pacemaker just gives zaps to the heart which will beat on time. Its not supplying the energy to beat (which comes from glucose) but rather the command to do so.

Re:Perpetual Motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36146784)

Are you stupid? Stop eating, no more motion. All this does is send a signal to the heart to pump.. What do you think sends that signal to your heart right now? Your biological pacemaker...Is that perpetual motion? And what's wrong with perpetual motion anyways? It's one of Newton's Laws!

Re:Perpetual Motion (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146800)

Pacemakers don't exactly help pumping the blood. They only give the signal to the heart. If the heart isn't able to pump blood any more, a pacemaker will not help. It only helps to overcome broken signal flow in controlling the pumping.

Re:Perpetual Motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36146808)

It's not as off as you would think. A pacemaker doesn't actually provide the (kinetic) energy that pumps the blood in the heart, it just regulates the electrical signals that control the speed of the heart rate. The heart itself still does the work (i.e., a pacemaker is not an artificial heart).

Depending on just how much energy gets translated into blood flow, you might be able to run a pacemaker off of it.

Not sure how they'd solve that clotting issue though.

Re:Perpetual Motion (2, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146828)

You aren't, you are using blood pumped by the heart to power the signalling of the heart.

It's the same as spark plugs triggering ignitition in an internal combustion engine being powered by electricity being generated by that engine.

It's not perpetual motion because the actual energy for the work is coming from food or gasoline depending on which one we are talking about. Some of it is merely being siphoned off to use in keeping the device running.

Re:Perpetual Motion (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147730)

OMG!!! Somebody just posted a car analogy that actually made sense. It really is a happy birthday for me.

Re:Perpetual Motion (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146832)

With pacemakers, the machine is there as a supplemental timebase to correct for a natural one that is operating outside acceptable tolerances. Essentially all the energy used to pump the blood is handled by muscle metabolism in the usual manner, the pacemaker just triggers the muscle to act on schedule if the natural clocking system fails to do so. Not a zero energy job(but, like controlling a transistor) uses a tiny amount of energy to control the activity of a more powerful system.

A blood-flow powered assistive pump would, of course, be absurd.

Re:Perpetual Motion (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146840)

Once machinery driving the hydraulic pump that powers the pacemaker breaks down, no more 'perpetual' motion.

Metabolism (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146748)

Why reinvent the wheel. The body produces energy by metabolizing sugar. I would think that track would have more promising results than some mechanical process. Plus if done well I could maybe loose weight while using an IPad.

Re:Metabolism (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146770)

If I remember correctly, that uses a specialized bacterial colony, and is not very efficient, compared to its size. Probably even less than this turbine...

Re:Metabolism (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147780)

If I remember correctly, that uses a specialized bacterial colony...

First microscope turbines, and now entire germ colonies? This is scaring the bejibbers out of me.

Invention like this are the perfect tools to combat the growing obesity problem: "Stop eating fatty foods or your doctor will implant this germ colony into your heart that sucks sugar out of your bloodstream every passing second."

Re:Metabolism (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146892)

Ding! Ding! Ding! Give this man a Kewpie doll. The reason people get pacemakers is because the electrical signal from the brain isn't reaching the heart or isn't happening in the right rhythm.(don't want an atrial and ventricular valve both opening at the same time) If they would find out how the body does its electricity and just make a booster pack for it the patient might not need a pacemaker at all. Thus destroying another industry that employs so many people and keeps the economy going.

Re:Metabolism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36147704)

durrrr the brain doesn't generate the timing signal for the heart. There is some role for the brain in regulating that timing signal, but it's generated locally.

Re:Metabolism (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146976)

Probably because building a tiny machine that efficiently processes sugar into energy(without need for reagents that need to be replenished, wastes that the body can't handle, temperatures incompatible with tissue, etc.) is a task considerably more arduous than simply scaling down and producing in biocompatible materials a few simple mechanisms that some of the brighter classical greeks probably new about.... Biological metabolisms are impressive systems; but Not simple ones.

(Incidentally, if you want to lose weight without effort, throwing a wrench in your metabolism can do the trick, if done very carefully. A dash of 2,4-Dinitrophenol will cause the energy potential of the mitochondrial proton gradient, which normally goes into making ATP, to be dumped straight to waste heat. If you aren't careful, the hyperthermia will kill you; but so it goes...)

Re:Metabolism (1)

victorhooi (830021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148026)

heya,

You know, I didn't actually believe it at first you but you're absolutely right...lol.

This 2,4-Dinitrophenl stuff was actually used for weight-loss in the 1930's:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2,4-Dinitrophenol [wikipedia.org]

So basically, it's a cellular metabolic poison that screws over your metabolism and makes it incredibly inefficient, causing it to just dump heat. Hmm.

People seem to be still selling the pills on the internet as well as "dieting aids". Surely that's dangerous?

Cheers,
Victor

In other news, (-1, Offtopic)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146754)

Scientists show that they can drill a hole 16 miles into the earth, and lower down Bar-B-Q ribs, and cook them in 30seconds....
Am I the only one seeing scientist welfare here ?
I guess you have to give them the benefit of a doubt, and say that you don't know where research will lead you, but this seem particularly stupid and pointless.

Re:In other news, (2)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146852)

A pacemaker that never needed to have its battery replaced would be quite an accomplishment.

Re:In other news, (3, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147292)

You mean like they had back in the 1970s? [comcast.net]

Re:In other news, (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146856)

Having a pacemaker you don't need to include a chest zipper with would be very convenient.

Blood contains iron... (1)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146756)

Instead of turbines, isn't there some funky way a non-invasive device outside the artery could make use of that fact on such a small scale?

Re:Blood contains iron... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36146806)

Instead of turbines, isn't there some funky way a non-invasive device outside the artery could make use of that fact on such a small scale?

inductive coils around an artery. load up te blood with some more o'that magnetic iron.

Re:Blood contains iron... (1)

WonderingAround (2007742) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146866)

Would applying solar panels to bald spots be considered funky enough?

Re:Blood contains iron... (1)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146914)

In theory, you could partially clamp the artery into a U-shaped device to make a peristaltic generator (the opposite of a peristaltic pump), but that would impede blood flow and could have potentially dangerous consequences. It would also "wear" on the artery walls, which could cause leaks and the like. But it *is* another option.

Re:Blood contains iron... (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146928)

Hemoglobin is not magnetic, I'm afraid.

Re:Blood contains iron... (1)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147326)

Damn. Well, my other idea was a turbine in another place with a regular water flow. Surely that'd work...

Re:Blood contains iron... (1)

JustinCredible (699073) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149298)

Don't tell that to Magneto.

Re:Blood contains iron... (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#36150136)

While hemoglobin isn't ferromagnetic (able to keep a magnetic field and thus become a magnet itself) it is paramagnetic [wikipedia.org] (it is attracted to a magnetic field). That is the property that Magneto used.
Oh yeah, there is also diamanetism [wikipedia.org] but that's just weird (although very common).

Re:Blood contains iron... (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149044)

You could have a small coil implanted around an even smaller tube that contains a magnet which can move up and down through the coil. (I should get a patent for that.)

Now all you have to do is to shake the patient to recharge

Re:Blood contains iron... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36150202)

For single patients the magnet could be mounted in the penis and the coil in the hand...

Eureka! (1, Interesting)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146778)

A pacemaker powered by the blood it pumps. by golly, I think we found a perpetual motion machine!

Re:Eureka! (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146878)

Well, until the machinery that drives the hydraulic pump that creates the power for the pacemaker breaks down.

That's the problem with perpetual motion machines: once you remove it from it's closed system parameters, it falls apart.

Re:Eureka! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147048)

No, what you're creating is a device that you think must be working, until it's too late.

Re:Eureka! (3, Insightful)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147480)

A car powers its own spark plugs. Same concept here.

Re:Eureka! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148564)

The pacemaker charge does not power the pumping of blood, it only stimulates the heart muscle into using aerobic metabolism to pump the blood.

Re:Eureka! (1)

sharky611aol.com (682311) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149344)

Not quite. To put this into Slashdot friendly car analogy form, the pacemaker is more like a spark plug. It just starts off the reaction (myocardial contraction), much like the spark plug gets the piston moving, but it ain't doing the moving itself. You need an external fuel source (i.e. gasoline or oxygen/ATP) to do any real work. So yes, it's totally feasible to power a pacemaker by the blood it pumps, b/c it's not a closed circuit. Now an artificial heart would be a different matter, but I digress.

With the power of Heart! (1)

Dave Emami (237460) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146786)

Perhaps I'm missing something here, and I realize the article just used a pacemaker as an example, but isn't there a cart/horse chicken/egg problem with a device for regulating the heart being powered by the heart?

Re:With the power of Heart! (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146868)

Pacemakers don't power the heart. They trigger it. As mentioned upthread, this is equivalent to the spark plugs in your car being powered by the alternator that is driven by the engine. The energy for both is coming out of the gasoline.

Re:With the power of Heart! (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146930)

The pacemaker doesn't power the heart, it just maintains its rhythm. The heart burns calories from food, so there is no chicken and egg issue here.

Re:With the power of Heart! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147244)

Except in the case where the heart isn't moving and the pacemaker is still trying to make it move. Then the pacemaker will quickly run out of charge and that will the that.

But without the pacemaker, that would have been that long before, so it's a tradeoff of risks.

I guess what we really need is a source of power that is more powerful the less the heart is beating. So instead of a generator, implant a Life Alert dialer, and tie the pacemaker to the bumper of the local paramedic wagon, with the power broadcast back through the dialer and into the pacemaker. You'll be up and running laps in your living room when they burst through the door.

Re:With the power of Heart! (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148546)

Unless you eat the chicken, and the egg to power the pacemaker.

Re:With the power of Heart! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36150112)

... so there is no chicken and egg issue here.

Unless you really like Oyakodon and your doctor has told you not to eat it.

f--- ya! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146790)

Well that just sucks!

Soylent Tubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36146858)

less blood for more vampire shows/movies please..

what's next:

Weekend At Bernies 3: vampires revive Bernie for fun
Caddyshack 3: vampires are hunted under golf course
Ghosthunters 2: a new TV series hosted by vampires
Vampireman: vampire survives in the wilderness
The Soylent Green Hunter: vampire explores the world

Lisa! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146908)

In this house we obay the laws of thermal dynamics.

The energy used to power the pacemaker will either cause the heart to pump harder or reduce the flow of blod.

Re:Lisa! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147072)

The amount of energy needed to mimic the vagus nerve acting electrically on the heart is nearly infinitesimal compared with the amount the heart puts into an average beat, most of which it wastes in its own movement against the tissues within and around itself. If this worked, the heart would never notice.

Excellent Example (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146912)

I would conjecture that this will be an excellent example of something that sounds great hypothetically, but cannot be made to work acceptably in practice. Far better to capture energy from the kinetics outside of the body rather than its interior. From the standpoint of FDA approval alone, external attachments will be far easier to pass than anything that has to be implanted due to the possibilities of infection, toxicity, blood clots, leaks, inconvenient maintenance, etc.

Re:Excellent Example (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147106)

They're missing a trick.

The heart itself is making big movements constantly.

Instead of using blood flow to move a generator to create electricity, use the motion of the heart itself to move the generator to create electricity.

Something like an automatic-watch winding mechanism glued inside the pericardium ought to do it. A few healthy beats and you have enough charge on a capacitor to discharge into the heart as a pacemaker signal. A few thousand and you might have enough for an automatic defibrillator (these can be much less powerful when you have direct access to key points on the heart, and an intelligent sequencer).

About the whole glucose into energy thing... (2)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146934)

Not strictly on-topic, but as lots of people posted about the whole converting blood-borne glucose into electricity thing...
Woudn't having some device consume some of the glucose in your blood for its power then make _you_ feel rundown/lower in energy generally?

Re:About the whole glucose into energy thing... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147124)

In the same way that exercise would. It's temporary, then you get used to it and hardly notice. One more gummy worm a day and you're good.

Re:About the whole glucose into energy thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36147150)

DC offset. Eat more candy.

Re:About the whole glucose into energy thing... (2)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147178)

It might, but the hundreds of calories that our bodies consume every day are relatively huge when you are talking about a device that needs a few milliwatts.

(1 kilocalorie / day is equal to about 48 milliwatts of power)

Alternative? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146974)

Since the heart is beating and therefore expanding and contracting, wouldn't piezoelectricity work?

Re:Alternative? (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 3 years ago | (#36150034)

Or how about a series of plastic stents [wikipedia.org] with coils of copper filament around them, and generate electricity through induction (since you're just pushing all that iron around anyway)?

Re:Alternative? (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 3 years ago | (#36150204)

(Hemoglobin is diamagnetic when bonded to oxygen, and passing a steady stream of it unidirectionally through the coil would create flux.)

Tesla Turbines (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147010)

tesla turbines do not cause turbulence.

Re:Tesla Turbines (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147186)

In a pig's ass they don't.

Everything causes turbulence at a significant Reynolds' number.

At the varying and fairly high speeds of blood flow in a major artery you could mix a frozen margarita with one of those things.

Re:Tesla Turbines (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148570)

They would if you didn't give the pig too much fruit.

Re:Tesla Turbines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36150150)

In a pig's ass they don't.

Well given that pigs and humas are anatomically similar, they should definitely consider that when placing the turbines. Any volunteers for the first round of human trials?

Use muscles (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36147028)

Why not put some kind of device on the larger muscles and generate the power with mechanical motion when people walk. you would need some kind of battery to store power when they were not moving for longer periods, but i wouldn't think that would be a huge problem.

Re:Use muscles (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147100)

You'd also need to have a number of extra wires running around the body... The nervous system is pretty nicely designed and compact, but I doubt you can fit the wires in the spine as well, I don't think having wires running around is much of a good idea.

Re:Use muscles (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147194)

Because a lot of people with pacemakers aren't using their larger muscles, usually for good reason. The only muscle in operation continuously while they're still alive is their heart. Unless they're on some sort of replacement, and then the issue of a pacemaker is moot.

Fictional version (2)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147082)

The alternate earth people in Robert J Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax [wikipedia.org] series used turbines like that to power implanted personal computers.

How about putting the turbine in the urethra? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36147298)

No, seriously. It doesn't run full-time, but should provide plenty of power several times per day that can then be stored.

Say hello to Frank's heart! (1)

Vidar Leathershod (41663) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147438)

What would you say if I told you I've invented a low cost, low maintenance household device that could easily last for a decade or more?

Say hello to Frank's heart!

I've harnessed Frank's heart. I was cleaning the snakes out of the pantry yesterday when suddenly it hit me... Nothing works harder than the human heart, especially when it's clogged with cholesterol. Now, Frank's heart was a mess, and it's getting worse all the time.

The rest was easy. Frank eats, I surgically attach a generator to his heart, and voila! The Cholester-Do-All! At some point, this will kill Frank, but I think it's worth it.

(courtesy of Dr. Forrester)

Theres a better place to stick a turbine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36147588)

Theres a better pipe you can stick a turbine on, especially in flatulent people

Re:Theres a better place to stick a turbine (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148588)

See the comment above about the pig's ass.

Draw or produce? (1)

lscotte (450259) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148038)

The turbines draw power? You probably mean produce power. There's quite a difference between the two... *sigh*

Strengthen the flow of my blood. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148180)

I would rather have something strengthen the flow of my blood. I got enough circulation problems as it is.
Also if I have a heart attack I could switch on that secondary heart.... blip!
If they are going to harvest anything for energy, why not some body heat... I can wear an extra sweater.

Wireless Power Internship (1)

sc0p3 (972992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148454)

One internship I did developed highly efficient wireless power specifically for this purpose... 4 years ago.. not sure why this is news. Similar to SplashPad but for biomedical devices, its quite easily done. http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2005/10/1401.ars [arstechnica.com]

body heat? (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148896)

Why not try generating energy from the body heat? I'm not a medical researcher but wouldn't this be reasonable? If they can get electricity from light why can't they do the same with heat?

A thermoelectric device has no moving parts (1)

Marko_Doda (1434879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149054)

Can't you just use the heat of the body somehow?

beware! (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149088)

Blood magic is always evil!

Why bother (1)

JustinCredible (699073) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149350)

This is fairly ridiculous, people with ventricular assist devices (blood pumps) need to take blood thinners to reduce their risk of clots. This would probably lower survival rates of pacemaker patients.

Horrible Horrible Idea (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149758)

I'm a biomedical engineering student in my last year of school. This idea is a non-starter. Regardless if the turbine could be redesigned to be more efficient, even the POSSIBILITY of a clot forming and causing the patient to develop a PE means it's never going to happen.

And there are more subtle effects than mere clots that happen when you put a medical device in contact with blood. Current technology does not have any solution for these problems, and has failed to find a fully blood compatible material for 40 years.

A much easier idea would be to make pacemakers rechargeable via electromagnetic induction. I asked one of the St. Jude reps why we don't do it this way, and the reason has to do with legal reasons : the non rechargeable pacemakers are less likely to fail and kill a patient.

Re:Horrible Horrible Idea (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#36150450)

+1
Wish I had modpoints.

self winding pacemaker (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 3 years ago | (#36150092)

ok, seriously, what's wrong with the idea of using motion to generate small amounts of power like they do with watches? just put that mechanism in the pacemaker and you dont have to worry about this other garbage.

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