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Engineers says self-charging pacemakers are only about five years away

By Cal Jeffrey · 7 replies
Feb 5, 2019
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  1. Pacemaker batteries need to be replaced every five to 10 years, which requires surgery. While considered routine, these procedures are expensive and do come with some risks. Infections and complications are inherent in all invasive procedures. However, there may soon be another solution to surgical battery replacement.

    Engineers at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College have developed a device that can convert the kinetic energy of the heart into electricity. The invention is about the size of a dime and can generate enough voltage to power various types of implants.

    “We’re trying to solve the ultimate problem for any implantable biomedical device,” said Dartmouth engineering professor and lead researcher on the project John X.J. Zhang. “How do you create an effective energy source so the device will do its job during the entire life span of the patient, without the need for surgery to replace the battery?”

    "Lin Dong, one of the study’s authors is learning the business and technology transfer skills to be a cohort in moving forward with the entrepreneurial phase of this effort."

    The breakthrough involves modifying the lead wire of the implant using a material called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). When a thin polymer piezoelectric film of PVDF is combined with a porous structure, a lattice of “buckle beams” is created. This array can be used to convert even minuscule movements into electricity. The energy can then be fed back into the implant’s batteries keeping them charged continually. The researchers also said that these modules could be simultaneously used as sensors for real-time heart monitoring.

    The results of the three-year Dartmouth study were just published in Advanced Materials Technologies. The team still has two more years of funding from the National Institutes of Health to complete the pre-clinical trials and to gain regulatory approval. Zhang says this timeframe puts commercial applications of self-charging pacemakers and other implants about five years out.

    “We’ve completed the first round of animal studies with great results which will be published soon,” he said. “There is already a lot of expressed interest from the major medical technology companies.”

    Lead Image courtesy Thayer School of Engineering

    Permalink to story.

  2. noel24

    noel24 TS Evangelist Posts: 523   +468

  3. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 877   +425

    Why not use wireless pad instead? You lie on it, and in twenty minutes you are charged.
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,496   +5,063

    @noel24 - I did think your link to Matrix was funny.

    In the movie though humans were the batteries and didn't use their muscles. This tech uses muscle movement. Because apparently power produced by the body is not enough.

    My question is the shelf life of the battery, even if it is continually charged. Should the battery still be replaced every 5 or 10 years to prevent sudden malfunction?
  5. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,219   +1,657

  6. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 396   +423

    The team still has two more years of funding. The new system will be ready in five years. I doubt it will be. Whether it will or not, there certainly is a PR push to obtain more finding at this time. Typical researcher move. I do hope they're successful. But, I would prefer that the new device have a dual charge system with a Qi charger being used as the main one, and the muscle movement, which won't provide as much power as they want us to think, be used as a continuous trickle charger.
  7. JamesSWD

    JamesSWD TS Maniac Posts: 331   +182

    Dr. Rudy Wells solved this over 40 years ago with nuclear battery packs. How else do you power a Six Million Dollar Man with the ultimate implants?
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,072   +4,080

    Speaking of implants, those typically acquired by women, (breast augmentation), should be re-sizable to mesh with her current dates preference. Or even to mix it up a little such as, large to go with clothing which shows a lot of cleavage, or much smaller, so that she can go for a nice jog without all the bouncing and discomfort.
    JamesSWD likes this.

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