Sciences

The Next Energy Powerhouse: Human Body

With energy becoming such an issue in the world, everyone is looking for renewable energy which is consistent with nature. With the population rising so much any source of energy seems small. But what if the people itself are the source? Body Heat!

Body Heat can be a great source! You dont believe it? Yeah, and you think how much of heat could be generated by one’s body? Good question. Make a guess. Enough to toast a bread? A house? A building?

Well, the Stockholm Central Station which is the largest train station in the country and in the Nordic region with around 250,000 persons passing through it every day is preparing to use the body heat of all these 250k visitors to heat the station, buildings, hotel and the retail section.

How does it work? quite simply, the heat generated will warm up water running through pipes which will be installed in the station. The water will be pumped to the new building and used to heat the spaces inside.

They are not the only ones! Even Prof Arun Majumdar is working on this kind of idea using nanowires. Using his technique –

a person anywhere in the world would be able to use a simple power-jacket utilising his body heat to stay warm. The same body heat could even be used to recharge a cell phone.

Ok, lets look at some numbers now.. how much are we worth:

According to the Center for Space Power and Advanced Electronics, a NASA commercial center in Alabama, the human body is on average 15% fat, capable of producing 11,000 watt hours. When the average Joe eats his daily bread, he takes in 3,300 watt hours. The charge rate is about 7kW if the waiter starts pushing you out the door after a half hour lunch, according to the Center. “Clearly the amount of energy consumed by an individual is sufficient to provide power for electronic devices if a suitable method can be found to convert a small fraction of that energy to electricity,” the Center concludes in a report on the subject.

Broken into usable terms, waiting to be harvested are 81 watts from a sleeping person, 128 from a soldier standing at ease, 163 from a walking person, 407 from a briskly walking person, 1,048 from a long-distance runner, and 1,630 from a sprinter, according to the center. But of course there’s not 100% capture. Body heat, for example, can only be converted with 3% efficiency with current thermoelectric materials.

Sounds great? So, now suddenly countries like India and China, which seemed like doomed places on this planet may be the greatest energy generators! And India has a tradition of Yoga and Meditation. All the above figures are for non-yogis.. or the normal people. Let us see how much Yoga and Meditation can help. A Harvard University study was done using the Buddhist Monks from Tibet to see the effect of meditation on naturally increasing the body temperature several times more than a normal person can.

In a monastery in northern India, thinly clad Tibetan monks sat quietly in a room where the temperature was a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a yoga technique known as g Tum-mo, they entered a state of deep meditation. Other monks soaked 3-by-6-foot sheets in cold water (49 degrees) and placed them over the meditators’ shoulders. For untrained people, such frigid wrappings would produce uncontrolled shivering.

If body temperatures continue to drop under these conditions, death can result. But it was not long before steam began rising from the sheets. As a result of body heat produced by the monks during meditation, the sheets dried in about an hour.

So, forget the next Oil Field discovery – just find a country with a huge population which are so interested in Yoga. Suddenly you have enough energy to light up the planet.. with NO GASES (well, ok some gas if too much beans are for breakfast!)

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Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh - the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and "drishtikone".

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