A team of Canadian researchers has developed a prototype piezoelectric chin strap that can harvest energy from jaw movements. Although not yet feasible, the concept illustrates the possibility of powering small electronic devices such as hearing aids.
A team from the University of Canada’s École de technologie supérieure de Montréal (ETS) has developed a chin strap to harvest energy from jaw movements. This product is a prototype chin strap made of piezoelectric composite that has the potential to generate enough electricity to power small electronic devices such as wireless headphones and hearing aids.
In their scientific article published by the journal Smart Materials and Structures; “Jaw movements that occur while a person is chewing gum, eating or talking represent the most promising muscle activity for harvesting energy from the head,” they explain. According to his calculations, jaw movements during an average day can produce up to 580 joules, which equals 7 milliwatts.
18 µW of power in approximately 60 seconds of chewing
The ETS chin bar is made of a Piezoelectric Fiber Composite (PFC) layer that encloses the electrodes in a cohesive polymer matrix. This will respond to jaw movements. This band is placed under the chin. The PFC strip itself is connected to a load resistor and a digital multimeter.
To demonstrate their concept, the researchers conducted an experiment in which one of the subjects chewed gum for 60 seconds. The maximum stored power reached 18 µW, but averaged around 10 µW. The ETS team acknowledges that the amount of energy produced by the system is currently insufficient to be used in practical applications.
Therefore, one of the goals is to increase the number of piezoelectric elements so that they can generate enough electricity to power small portable electronic devices. This can be done by overlapping several PFC layers.
Scientists say twenty layers would be enough to power an electronic hearing protection device. But it is the ergonomics that will undoubtedly present the most difficulties, since the tape will then be 6 millimeters thick. Ensuring that one can wear such a chin strap without attracting prying eyes will not be an easy task.
First visual resource: Unsplash