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Scientists Test Mini Turbine Implant To Power Pacemakers

Scientists Test Mini Turbine Implant To Power Pacemakers

Mini blood powered turbine will harvest energy from your arteries…

Renewable energy is a logical solution to several of the world’s problems; reduce energy consumption and preserve the surrounding environment. And now scientists are applying this efficient logic to power implanted medical devices therefore eliminating the need for external or replaceable batteries.

A team of Swiss scientist, led by biomedical engineer Alois Pfenniger, is currently testing 3 versions of a miniature microwatt-producing “hydroelectric plant”, a single mini turbine, which when implanted in the arteries, can convert the kinetic energy of the bloodstream into electricity strong enough to power such as pacemakers, glucose meters, drug-delivery pumps or neurosimulators.

heart powered turbine 550x309 Scientists Test Mini Turbine Implant To Power Pacemakers

Heart Powered Turbine Powered Implanted Medical Devices

These devices do not require much power, but because batteries do not last forever, the devices must be placed in easy to reach areas so doctors can easily recharge or replace them. The implanted miniature turbine however, would need less maintenance and could therefore be place in more effective positions, closers to source of the problem.

Biomedical engineer Alois Pfenniger. Swiss team from the Bern University of Applied Sciences has put three different turbines in a tube that simulates the thoracic artery, millimeters-wide blood vessel. The mini turbines are designed to fit in the internal thoracic artery – a blood vessel a few millimeters wide that typically gets removed during surgery because it is redundant.

Pfenniger explained that the ‘heart produces around 1 or 1.5 watts of hydraulic power,’ and that these device only need 10 micro-watts.

The current turbines have not yet been tested on live subjects; the system undergoing trails consists of tubing made to mimic the thoracic artery. However, the mock system has already been shown to produce 800 microwatts of power.

Some experts are concerned the turbulence created by the turbine could increase the risk of blood clots, which could prove fatal if they move through the bloodstream.

However, Pfenniger and his team are still working hard to improve the design, using computer simulators to measure turbulence, and hopefully reduce the effects so the devices can be deemed safe.


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  1. Lucas Laursen: Swiss Scientists Design a Turbine to Fit in Human Arteries. IEEE, 05/16/2011.
  2. Clay Dillow: A Tiny Turbine in Your Veins Could Harvest Power From Your Blood Flow. Popular Science, 05/19/2011.

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