Exploring the Possibility of Generating Electricity from Our Bloodstream

electricity from our bloodstream
Red blood cell in blood vessel of body. Science graphic for education of school. 3D rendering.

Wouldn’t it be crazy if we could get electricity from our bloodstream?  I mean, say your phone loses power and you have no way to charge it. Imagine being able to rely on your own body to supply that power. Well, scientists are currently working to make this a reality. Find out how getting electricity from our bloodstream could be a viable option in the near future.

The Research Behind Harnessing Electricity from Our Bloodstream

The research that is happening to enable getting electricity from our bloodstream to become a reality is taking place at Fudan University in China. They have developed a lightweight power generator that can convert flowing blood in the vessels into power. This can be possible by a fiber that is made of carbon nanotubes that are electroactive. This thread of fiber (called a fiber-shaped fluidic nanogenerator or FFNG) is attached to electrodes and immersed in a solution that imitates the bloodstream. The electricity is generated from the movement between the FFNG and the solution.

The concept behind getting electricity from our bloodstream was inspired by hydropower which uses steam or water to turn a turbine to generate electricity. Similar to hydropower, this blood-based electricity would be a source of renewable energy that would not rely on outside factors like solar and wind energy does. Research has been yielding some amount of success with the ability to harness twenty percent of the energy generated from a test with saline solution. These results show a higher success rate than previous models.

The Benefits of Blood-Powering Devices

When we think about blood-powering electrical devices, the possibilities are endless. For internal medical devices like pacemakers, this could be a great way to generate electricity without having to rely on any outside sources. Researchers also site elasticity, tunability, lightweight and one-dimensionality as being advantages to using blood for conducting electricity. This could allow the FFNG material to be woven into fabrics so that you can use yourself as an energy source by wearing these power devices.

This also has the advantage of being stationary. Previously, there were concerns regarding the possibility of the occurrence of blood clots with energy generators that floated in the blood.

We still have a long way to go before we actually see this type of electricity generation being used in practical applications. Questions are still being raised concerning how much power can be generated by this technology. Also, as of yet, testing has only been done using a frog’s nerves. We still have a way to go before we can determine how effective this will be in human applications. Regulatory approval will be needed as well.

Despite an ongoing need for testing, scientists are very excited about the feasibility of being able to generate electricity from our bloodstream. It could definitely be a convenient way to rely on natural resources.  Beyond that, the possibilities are endless when you think about medical breakthroughs, not to mention the ways in which we can create and use electricity.

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