Harvesting Energy through Humping

By Marine Cpl. Cedric R. Haller II
Defense Media Activity

Yes, you read that right. “Humping” or hiking, as it is more commonly referred to, has always been the primary form of travel for infantry units. Entire armies would march for weeks upon weeks to reach their destination. As technology advanced, more efficient forms of transportation arose. Commonplace within this new technology is electric batteries.

Every moving object needs a power source of some kind. The Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, along with a privately-held technology company, have developed a way for troops to fuel and replenish those power sources with their own moving bodies.

The PowerWalk Kinetic Energy Harvester is a wearable walk-recharge technology that allows the wearer to produce 10-12 watts of power as they walk.

The bionic power knee harvester (pictured here), also known as the PowerWalk, is an energy-harvesting device. The device may reduce the number of batteries a warfighter needs to carry, potentially lightening the load and freeing up space in backpacks for other supplies, including food and water. (Photo Credit: Bionic Power Inc.)

The bionic power knee harvester (pictured here), also known as the PowerWalk, is an energy-harvesting device. The device may reduce the number of batteries a warfighter needs to carry, potentially lightening the load and freeing up space in backpacks for other supplies, including food and water. (Photo Credit: Bionic Power Inc.)

Just imagine you’re hiking for five miles or more and for whatever reason your radio battery wasn’t properly charged. With this technology the user would be able to charge the equivalent of up to four smartphones in just one hour.

The PowerWalk is designed to generate electricity from the natural action of walking, similar to the way regenerative braking works in hybrid cars. With every stride, the harvester’s on-board microprocessors analyze the wearer’s gait to determine precisely when to generate maximum power with the least amount of effort. Meaning, basically, that it is designed to be almost unnoticeable to the wearer.

“The power generated by the device charges the main battery,” said Noel Soto, a project engineer at NSRDEC. “The goal is to reduce the amount of batteries used by Soldiers, or to be able to extend the mission with the same load. We have found out through studies that Soldiers are carrying a heavy load and a lot of that weight, 16 to 20 pounds for a 72-hour mission, is due to batteries.”

The bionic power knee harvester (pictured here), also known as the PowerWalk, is an energy-harvesting device that is attached to both the upper and lower areas of both legs and generates power from movement. By wearing the device, Soldiers can generate power to recharge batteries for themselves or for others. (Photo Credit: Bionic Power Inc.)

The bionic power knee harvester (pictured here), also known as the PowerWalk, is an energy-harvesting device that is attached to both the upper and lower areas of both legs and generates power from movement. By wearing the device, Soldiers can generate power to recharge batteries for themselves or for others. (Photo Credit: Bionic Power Inc.)

This technology will not only change the face of the battlefield but also has potential for use in other theaters such as areas stricken by natural disasters as well as remote worksites.

The PowerWalk Kinetic Energy Harvester for military use will begin multi-unit field testing with the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps next year.

Follow the Department of Defense on Facebook and Twitter!

———-

Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

About